Okay, I’m going to be completely honest here…when I started self-publishing (October 2015) I had no freaking clue what I was doing. (SPOILER ALERT: I still don’t 😳 )
I wrote a decent book, found a great editor (shout out to Vivid Words Editing 🙌🏻 ), hired a cover designer, booked a one day release blitz, and released live on Amazon.
Literally….that’s all I did and I expected sales. I know, I know….commence eye rolls and sarcastic What was she thinking?! comments now. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you that sales for my first book, Snowbound, were pitiful, yet I was still happy (read: ecstatic) when I sold 35 copies. I write under a pen name and literally no one in my *real life* besides my husband new I had written/released a book, so these sales were all from strangers who were interested enough in my cover/blurb to take a chance on me. Score!
Here’s the book –>
Fast forward to August 2016, Book # 2: Off Key. As with all things in life, I lived and learned. I did a bit more to get the word out, but nowhere near what I should have done. I didn’t utilize my mailing list (however small it may be 😉 ), I didn’t tweet or post daily, I didn’t blog or release excerpts. Are you screaming at me through your screen yet?! Because this shit is freakin’ sacrilege to indie authors. Here’s what I did do: I hired a PR company (they were expensive — at least for small time author like me), hired a company for a book review tour, hired a separate blog company for a cover reveal, release blitz, and five-day blog tour. I should also mention that I did some author takeovers in various blog groups/reader groups on Facebook. And yes, I sold more books—YAY!— but not enough to cover my expenses. Still (with a lot of encouragement from Mr. M.) I kept a positive attitude.
Personal note: Mr. M is a successful business owner and is super comfortable with the idea of “spending money to make money.” I am ultra-conservative and have mini panic attacks when outgoing money supercedes incoming money, but I digress.
Cover of Book # 2 –>
Okay, so here we are October 2016 and I’m set to release my third book, Knockout. By this point I’m a little beaten down and question whether or not this whole “writing thing” is working out. I hire the same PR company and book review tour company, and participated in a few author takeovers. Sales? Not great, but you already knew that didn’t you?
Cover of Book # 3 –>
What did I do wrong? How much time do you have?!
No but seriously, here’s the list:
1.) Didn’t utilize my mailing list to its fullest potential (if at all)
2.) All of my books are standalones — which is great — but the story lines are completely independent of one another which is not great for building a fanbase.
3.) Didn’t have a website or blog
4.) Didn’t post nearly enough on social media.
5.) Did not use FB effectively.
6.) Had unrealistic expectations about how readers would find my books…because if I’m being 100% honest I’m a minnow in a sea of freaking sharks! There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of romance books. Why should a reader take a chance on mine? Because I’m special? (I’m not.) Because I work hard? (We all do.) Because they owe me something? (They don’t). I’m a reader just like you and guess what? I’m incredibly picky about what I read. Big names mean nothing to me (I’ve read NYT Bestselling authors that have me scratching my head and saying really?) But reviews DO matter to me. One negative review can sway me from one-clicking. And my guess is you’re exactly the same. Low reviews/no reviews make me question: Why isn’t anyone reading this book? It’s a terrible catch-22. A new author doesn’t get reviews but needs reviews to entice readers. #TheStruggleIsReal
6.) Didn’t release consistently enough—I’m cutting myself some slack on this one because I do have a full-time job (and a life!) outside of my writing career but still I could have used my free time more efficiently.
Now comes the part where I list everything I did right. Ha! I see you laughing at me! I did hire a professional editor and book cover designer but this post is about marketing and I think we can all agree that I did very little right in terms of promotion.
I wish I could say I have all the answers…but I don’t. Even more frustrating any seasoned, successful author will tell you this business isn’t a one size fits all. Translation: what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander 😉
I can refer you to some great resources. J.A. Huss’s Blog and her Marketing Tip Monday posts are incredibly helpful. Also, check out Whitney G. and Nicole London’s new blog: The Indie Tea. I’ve been subscribed to their newsletter for quite some time and have gathered a lot of useful tips/strategies. They are also hosting an indie authors retreat June 2017, so maybe we’ll see each other there?
My goal for 2017 is to do better 🙂 My time has been spent researching and learning on how to be a better business woman because like it or not, authors are equal parts writer and entrepreneur. I can’t compare myself to big-name authors, but progress is progress…even if it’s only 1 more book sale a day than before… and that’s good enough for me…at least for now!
Questions, comments, encouragement, random thoughts…be sure to leave a comment. I promise I’ll answer. Seriously, I will, probably immediately 🙂
Until next time friends,