… the ONLY three options.
You worked very hard for a year or two on your books’ manuscript. You even paid for professional help to write a convincing query letter and you got a list of agents to contact. All your friends and family promised to buy your book once it hits the shelves. You write query after query, contact lots of agents and you play the waiting game. Nothing happens. You assure yourself that many famous writers such as Stephen King, John Le Carre, J.K. Rowling, George Orwell, William Faulkner, or John Grisham experienced dozens of rejections
After a year or two, maybe your manuscript is picked up by a (real) publisher, not those POD’s or Vanity Publishers. You are happy to be published and even receive a small advance – in exchange of not owning the book anymore, at least until your contract ends, and to have no or very little influence over the cover and to be forced to make lots of manuscript changes. What the publisher doesn’t tell you is that they will NOT market you book other than list it and distribute it to book stores. They are only delivering your book from where it is ordered.
Actively promoting is the job of the author – unless you are a famous and established author. And even those are marketing their books, just watch the Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and Google+ pages of bestseller authors.
You are well-off and after many rejections from big publishing houses you decide to invest in your book, spend hundreds for a good editor. Your book cover is fabulous. You found a professional book printer for several thousand dollars and contracted distribution to book stores who might order your book – if someone asks for your title. And you even found a great ebook formatter and uploaded your work to Amazon, Kobo, B&N etc.
You spend a tremendous amount of money in advertisements, printed and online, through an advertisement agency. Barely any sales, and a very poor “ROI”, return of investment.
You decide to go where your readers are: in bookstores and at book faires. You contact stores and even get some book signings, but you have to advertise them, as the stores don’t do anything to promote your event or your book. Same with your presentations at book faires, where you have to pay for your booth or table, electricity and other expenses, such as travel costs. After all these expenses, not much is left from your book sales.
You are not so well-off as the author in scenario 2. You have to find out how to do your marketing on a shoestring. Before you write your book you research the competition, the genre, the potential in readers. You do your research and draft a marketing plan. You expand your already existing Facebook and Twitter presence with Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr etc. as you learned you can easily connect them all together. You write a blog post at least once a week and “feed” automatically your Social Media posts. Your next step is a website from where you can sell your book as well, once it is finished.
While you write your book, you make already “friends” and “followers”. You join Goodread and Wattpad or Biblio Connection, interact with readers and writers alike and leave single chapters of your upcoming book for readers to comment on and to “test the waters”. These folks might become even your beta readers and book reviewers, once the manuscript is finished. Once your book is finished and formatted as an e-book you join more reader forums and list it not only there, but also on several dozens of top websites for book lovers.
What else can you do:
To get 5,000 or more followers or thousands of email addresses, social media is invaluable.
Social media provides a good opportunity to reach readers, however, you might consider public speaking e.g. at writers conferences or free workshops at your local library, and publish lots of articles (always with a link to your website, blog or book sales page) at local newspapers and to use for other media, even for TV and Radio shows, or send out regular newsletters to your readers. It doesn’t mean you have to write completely new articles, just spin and re-purpose the ones you already have.
You leverage the power of free: Giving resources away allows skeptical readers to get enough content to talk about your book – and to make it easy for them to share content with their friends. Sample chapters, quizzes, special reports, and how-to articles are all good giveaway possibilities. If you haven’t yet landed on the radar of most people, you need an entirely different strategy. If this is your first work, give away as many books as you can and get your words out there.
A few authors with inexpensive books made even more money on Amazon while on the KDP Select program through Prime Member lending than by way of regular sales.
E-books are a way of “testing the waters” for print books and there are ways to “real self-publish” and to distribute your book(s) worldwide
There are so many ways to do “Book Marketing on a Shoestring” (this book is available soon). If you want to get help and valuable support, sign up now for a Book Marketing online seminar, where you get hundreds of more tips and practical support to market your book for free.
As an author of hopefully soon several books, you are a brand. Start thinking and acting like one, and create a serious marketing strategy. Seth Godin, Marketing Guru, once said: “Be patient, do good work, keep doing good word and then do more good work… and it will pay off.”