Did you know, Best selling author, John Grisham’s book “A Time to Kill” was rejected by fifteen publishers and thirty agents before he ultimately decided to publish it himself? Being a self published author represents a mountain of challenges when it comes to breaking into the industry. We?ve all heard the various stereotypes about writers who decide to self publish versus traveling the traditional route. For instance, if you?re self published, it?s because no publishing house would pick up your manuscript. Or, self published authors aren’t talented enough and their work doesn’t measure up against writers who are traditionally published. The truth of the matter is, some of the world?s best material has been written by individuals who, for one reason or another, decided to go the self published route including the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Gertrude Stein and even Mark Twain. So it begs the question, if there are currently so many great writers who have decided to self publish, then why are they having such a difficult time selling books?
Fact of the matter is, self published authors personally finance the marketing and publicity of their work versus traditionally published writers who have the financial backing and marketing expertise of a larger publishing house. It is much easier to promote and sell while on a twelve city book signing tour where the publishing company is footing the bill for travel, hotel, food, marketing and media coverage. Let?s take a look at a couple of ways self published authors can level the playing field and experience increased success in sales and promotion.
1. Develop a marketing strategy – I always tell clients “we must plan our work and work our plan.” Start by identifying measurable goals for your marketing campaign. How many books do I want to sell…do I want to develop a public speaking component to go along with my book business? Once you?ve answered these questions…you?re path will become more clear.
2. Leverage social media & the web-If you?re not currently using social media, i.e.Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to promote your work, you are losing the “WAR” (Walk Away Revenue). Social media levels the playing field for self published authors seeking to develop their personal brand and promote upcoming releases with the same professional approach as bigger agencies with a large marketing budget. A personal website is a must! Successful promotion starts with access to information and the place to get it is through the authors website. Here you can control your content and promote effectively based on the initiatives in your marketing strategy. The “official website” should be a one stop shop for everything YOU!
3. Timely PR - Public relations must be a self published authors best friend. By now you should have a professionally designed digital press kit that contains information about you such as a bio, any published work, press clippings from articles or television appearances and contact information for future bookings. Any time you have the chance to promote your work through various media such as print, TV, radio, webcast, etc. take advantage of it. When asked to speak at a local library, call your local newspaper editor or create a press release including all pertinent information about your event.
4. Promotion, Promotion, Promotion! – If no one knows you exist…you won?t sell books! It?s that simple. You may be the next great writer in your genre but if people don?t see you, they won?t know you. Depending on your budget, develop a regional book tour of your own. Start with local book stores in your area and contact them about setting up book signings or reading sessions. Once you?ve developed a following locally, expand your territory up to four hours driving distance and continue promoting in similar fashion. Sweepstakes are a great way to develop a database of potential customers and future followers of your work. Be proactive and engage your customer base…don?t wait for them to come to you!
While it is recommended that you seek the help of marketing professionals to properly and effectively promote your work, if you follows these four simple points on marketing and promotion, ultimately book sales will increase and so will your personal brand. No matter what your budget is or how much experience you have with marketing and promotions, you can be successful. Oh, by the way, The Bridges of Madison County….self published!
Ed Jenkins attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI and majored in marketing. He is currently the managing partner of Confab Marketing & Design, a Pittsburgh, PA based agency that specializes in brand development, social media and public relations for authors, publishers and professional athletes.