Promoting Your Work
So, you’ve written that book, short story, compilation of poems, screenplay or anthology and you’re ready to share it with the world. As much as I would like it if all you have to do is say “hey, here it is”, the truth is it’s going to take a lot more than that to get the word out. In fact, I’m sorry to tell you this, but once the work is ready and released, the real work is just beginning. Promotion is the bane of most of us.
Now, before I get into the meat and potatoes of this blog post, I wanted to say a bit about promoting your work. I know when we all set out to be writers and authors, we never thought we’d have to have a degree in advertisement or know the ins and outs of promoting your own work, but the reality is much different. Unless you happen to work for a large enough publishing company that they have a promotions budget and team that takes care of that for you, you’re going to have to find ways to do it yourself. That means, for the largest percentage of us, we’re on our own. I hope that this helps you, even if only a little.
Let’s cover some of the things that I’ve tried, with different levels of success.
Social Media. Advertising on Social Media does work, but not as much as you would hope. While it does get your work before a large audience, Social Media sites have this funny way of limiting your posts reach. Yeah, that’s right, they limit your posts on purpose. Then they can sell you ways to boost your post and based on how much you pay them, they’ll open that up a crack and let you reach a few more people. I’ve known quite a few people who have paid this with only minimal returns. Use this method with caution, because it’s designed to help the social media site more than it is to help you. There are plenty of groups, pages and people on social media that will happily allow you to post your links there to promote your work, but remember that hundreds if not thousands of other authors are doing that, too. You also run into the possibility of over-posting. If you go onto, say Facebook, and you post in a dozen groups/pages in a day, then people who know you will see that dozen posts show up in their feed. Then you run the risk of people either unfollowing you, ignoring your posts or unfriending you. People get tired of seeing a glut of posts from a single person. Be careful how much you post at a time. Also, keep the posts brief and on topic. Longer posts tend to get ignored. Use Social Media sparingly. Also, don’t use it just to post links and ads for your work. People on social media want you to engage with them. Failure to do so will get your posts largely ignored. Fair Warning.
Book Promotions Websites. Yes, they exist. Yes, they can be effective. No, most of them aren’t free. Use caution when looking at this option. Google the name of the website and see if there are testimonials out there about the effectiveness of their services. Some places charge you and don’t give you much bang for your buck. Some may or may not do anything at all. Just listing you on their website is fine, if they’re a high traffic website. However, if you’ve never heard of them, odds are no one else has either. Now, some of these sites are totally legit and deliver what they promise. Just do your research before you start paying for services that don’t really deliver. Googling the website can be very illuminating. Also, check out websites like “Predators and Editors” and “Writer Beware.” They will post websites and publishers and other services that have not been beneficial to the writer community, to put it mildly. You can learn a lot about them on those two sites. A little research now can save you a lot of money in the long run. Again, some of these sites are fantastic and deliver exactly what they promise. But, some are there just to make money of struggling writers. Use caution and do your research before you buy.
Interviews. Getting yourself booked onto shows and doing interviews does a good job of promoting your work. It gets you in front of audiences that you might not have reached before. It allows you to not only showcase your work, but to connect with audiences on a personal level. It can be a lot of fun, too. Some interviews are written, where they send you a list of questions and you answer them and return them to the sender. Then you’ll appear on a blog or website or magazine or something along those lines. I’ve done quite a few of those and they’re great. Especially if it’s with a high-traffic website or larger publication. Then there are the audio/video interviews. Podcasts, radio shows, TV shows and other places are constantly on the lookout for content. You can have a lot of fun with these. I’ve done numerous interviews like this and loved them all. Don’t worry, if you’ve never done one before, most hosts are more than happy to walk you through the process. I had the good fortune of having a couple of different hosts take me under their wing and teach me how to do it. It’s a great experience and I highly recommend it. You not only learn about how to promote, you get to be involved in the experience and connect with potential readers. Plus, I’ve made some very good friends along the way. Interviews are a great way to promote, engage and grow your audience, and the only cost you a bit of your time. That’s a win.
Trade Shows and Conventions. Bringing printed copies of your books and booking tables at Trade Shows and Conventions is a lot of fun. I’ve been doing shows like these for years and it’s always a great time. You connect directly with potential readers, talk about your books and other things of common interest, meet really interesting people and get the chance to show you’re more than just a picture inside the back cover of the book. Sometimes this isn’t easy for you to do, but it’s good for you and your writing career. Get out there, engage your target audience and maybe make some new friends. You can’t sit at the table and say nothing, then expect throngs of people to line up to buy your book. You’ve got to shake the trees, shake a few hands and show people that you, and therefore your book, are interesting and worthy of reading and getting to know. Get out there and engage your audience. It’s not just fun, it’s a great way to market, network and meet people in the industry. You never know when you might meet the one person who was just waiting to find a book just like yours to showcase in their next article, interview, television show or production. You can do it.
Blogs and Newsletters. Writing your own or getting featured on someone else’s, blogs and newsletters reach a lot of people. They connect across multiple media and across continents. You should never underestimate the reach of a blog, even a small one. Because sometimes the small blogs are noticed by bigger blogs and they share the posts. Then suddenly, that little blog just reached a much larger audience. If you do start your own blog, try to be consistent in your posts. That doesn’t mean you have to dedicate time to writing a blog post every day, but try to do it weekly or bi-weekly. Have a schedule and try to stick to it. Consistency in a blog is everything. Newsletters are sent out from an email list and sometimes get forwarded to other email lists and then the reach can get astronomical. Building your own email list and therefore a newsletter is a great way to connect, let your fans know about upcoming releases and appearances as well as keep everyone informed of news and relevant happenings. Newsletters can also be time consuming, so be careful about how often you create one. Never underestimate the power of a blog or a newsletter. They can go a lot farther than you think.
Hiring a Publicist or Advertisement Agency. Honestly, I have no experience with this method. I included it just to show you that it exists as an option. I operate on a shoestring budget. Hang on, scratch that. Since my back injury, I operate on a budget so thin, it’s practically monofilament. I can’t afford this method but I’d love to know if you have had success with it. It’s something I would like to try, if I could. I know that publicists and ad agencies don’t come cheap and I would imagine that they would be as effective as you can afford. I mean, that they would work harder the more your budget was. Some work on a percentage of your royalties, so there’s that option. It certainly makes them more invested in your success. The more you make, the more they make. I’d love to know if you have had any experience in this. Feel free to drop me a line or post a comment on this blog entry. Thanks.
Well, that about wraps up everything I can think of. I know that there are more methods out there. I just don’t know what they are. If you do, please share with us, here at the blog. Well, by us, I mean me but I’ll share what I learn here, too. So, if you send new things my way, I promise I’ll make future entries about what I’ve learned. Any website, event, trade show, convention, publicist, ad agency, promotions page or whatever can be googled. Do a little research before you commit to anything that costs you money. Predators and Editors along with Writer Beware is another great resource. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be safe, be savvy and be informed. Good luck promoting your work. I wish you all the success in the world.
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