I’ve decided to start blogging about my marketing and promotion plan as an independent author in the hopes that other writers, debarking on the path to publishing a book, might benefit from my process, mistakes, and ideas.
First of all, a little about myself. I am a college English professor who has published books before. But until now, my books have been either academic scholarship or poetry with small presses. I just wrote and published my first novel, Ivory Tower. Because I wrote what I consider to be a commercial piece of fiction, I decided to start with getting an agent who could sell my book. After all, agents are mostly sales people who know the publishing world and connect authors with that world for a piece of the action. Why not get them working for me?
After searching for months for an agent, I decided to go with a hybrid publishing house, Atmosphere Press, run by a colleague of mine, Nick Courtright. I respected Nick as a poet, so I trust that he would give my novel a close read, and he did, which is why I agreed to go with Atmosphere and pay its reasonable fee for services. You can learn more about what they do here.
Although Atmosphere provides many great services, particularly at the editing, copy writing, and design stages, their promotion and marketing is limited, which means authors, like me, are pretty much on our own in hawking our wares.
Since I’m a researcher, the first thing I did was research self-publishing and marketing. There are a lot of great resources for self- and semi-self-publishing authors on the internet and in print, and I recommend starting with ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, a nonprofit dedicated to helping us independent writers reach our goals. Another great resource for agents, publishers, and review outlets is Poets & Writers, a one-stop shop for writers at any stage. Nick turned me on to the latter, though I should have known better.
Anyway, through my research, I was able to formulate my own marketing plan that involves getting my book on Amazon and other web sellers (I had help with that from Atmosphere, another great service they provide), using social media, getting reviews, placing my book in bookstores and libraries.
Oh, and a major part of making your marketing plan is having a reasonable timeline. Word to the wise: you should start planning marketing at least 4 months your book before your book is going to be released. Not accepted for publication, released. I wish someone had told me that sooner. But don’t worry, there are plenty of success stories about authors who marketed their book even after it was published, like best-seller, Rachel Abbott.
The key to promoting and selling your book, it seems to me, is persistence. Once you have a plan, you have to follow through and stay up on it because it’s a long haul. That’s my biggest problem, I think, sustaining my efforts at a finished project while life goes on.
Today, for example, I spent about 4 hours working on promotion, including an hour-long conversation with author, Cheryl Pallant, in which I ask her to write a blurb/review and to which she gracious agreed. I also corresponded with Nick Courtright about some questions I had, and he informed me that pre-order is now available on Amazon, so I linked it to my website, as well as linked it to my Amazon author page.
I also requested reviews today from writers, Rilla Askew and Jeff Martin, two local literati that I highly respect. I have to admit that I really don’t know many fiction writers that I can call on to write reviews, sad to say. I gotta work on that. I have been corresponding with Kyle T. Cowan on this book, so I might hit him up for a blurb. I lengthened my review list, by the way, and sent a copy off to City Books for their Tulsa edition.
Up until now, over the past month or so, I have done other things for promotion:
- Purchased and made an author website
- Got Barry Friedman to agree to write a blurb
- Submitted to Austin review magazine, Newfound, I’m not sure it will be a good fit, but the worst thing they can do is say “no,” right?
- Wrote an advance info sheet (a marketing tool that publishers us to promo their books – google it)
- Read and researched various aspects of self-publishing, including how to get your book in bookstores and libraries.
- Been scouring Poets & Writers for review venues