When I self-published in 2009 my first novella, “Act of Redemption,” I was so excited that I could find it on Google and it was for sale in Denmark (well, I think Denmark). I thought surely since it had such a wide listing for sales, somebody must buy it!
What an immature attitude, I say to myself now. Not that having your book available for worldwide sales is a bad thing, but how many even see your book for sale, let alone purchase one? So I realized that I needed a marketing strategy. Who else better than a marketing expert to consult?
Don’t get me wrong, I like the person that helped me; but I do miss my ten thousand dollars as well. A publicist was assigned to pitch my book to various media outlets and to send review copies, which I had to purchase as well; another eight hundred dollars later. My first review was from a fundamental religious website who was pitched to review a children’s book. Just imagine, this strongly religious group was sent a book about a teen assassin smashing and killing demons with swords, daggers, and a skillet! Well, leave it to your imagination how that worked out. But outside of the details, that story had a happy ending. I called the editor of the site and he gave me some great advice: “Yes, you got a bad review. You don’t like it, and you will be angry for several days. But don’t let that stop you from writing.”
So, what happened here? The publicist never read my book. I was told they didn’t have to; only general knowledge was standard practice. But for a novella! Couldn’t the back cover have been read? After that, the publicist was replaced and I did make some great connections with radio/blog interviews and some print/internet features of the book. Did it affect sales? Minimal at best! But I do still maintain a working relationship with the company and it’s not all bad; but it is expensive. I’ve learned to be very selective on who I trust to publicize my book, and keep up with the costs.
Then I met a group of local bright young people that read my book, saw the website set up when my book was published, and assured me that with a better looking website and the use of social media, sales would follow for a mere ten thousand dollars. I didn’t fall for that one. They sat aghast at the conference room table when I told them I didn’t have social media accounts. Their recommendation was to get with my friends on social media and mention my book. What friends in social media? I graduated from undergrad college in 1985!
So after reading more about Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, I got accounts and put my book out there. I “tweeted” myself for about a year before the light bulb finally went off and I’m still in the process of getting followers, and I’ve grown to see its value. Facebook has rules that I have yet to figure out. Some people get to have 5K friends and they threaten to block my page if I attempt to get friends period. What I suspect happened was either by automation or by a person checking, I got labeled as a spammer.
Great. I write on a book for years trying to recover from my sister’s death, and have been accused the equivalent of “sex offender” in social media: spam. Stupid me, I grew up thinking it was canned pork shoulder and ham (and I’ve had a casserole during my poverty childhood my mom made that wasn’t half bad). I had to learn that social networking was not making everything about myself; I had to bring more to the table than my little novella that stood up poorly competing with accomplished, traditional-multi-published authors.
So now instead of self-righteous anger that I don’t have a Pulitzer Prize (please, that’s a joke, and an exaggeration), I’m still learning to embrace social media. I like Twitter, because I meet many talented people that are in the same boat with me. Also, I’ve met people that spend their time advising us “newbies” on how to use social media. Accomplished authors also reach out to help and advise us new authors. Facebook is getting better as well, as I’m as careful at inviting friends as I am for accepting friends, and I use a fan page, so I can show my books to those interested. I’ve met several outstanding people through Goodreads, who’ve helped me learn about social media promotion. Those are just a few sites I’ve found helpful, but many more are out there, and I recommend checking them out and seeing what is the best fit for you as a new author.
So again, new authors, go forth, and show us your writing via social networking. Beware of the spam-factor, but that’s OK; we all learn by doing. And if anyone slams you with profanities and calls you a spammer, just forget about them because that’s not who you want in your writing journey.