Today I turn over this space to author and book marketing consultant Michael J. Sahno. Congratulations to Michael on today’s re-launch of the novel, Miles of Files. Check back in later for a review.
Marketing for Indie Authors
Before I started my own publishing and consulting firm, I spent about 15 years working full time as a writer. The job I had was marketing writing. What that meant is that I had to market, or advertise, to readers. I still do this type of work through my own company. Articles I’ve written have appeared in Fortune, Money, Good Housekeeping, Entrepreneur, and Woman’s Day.
If you’re an indie author, you are the Marketing Department for your company. So you have to know how to do more than just write a book and call it a day. You have to do (or hire someone to do) the marketing for your book. Unless it’s a children’s book, i.e., mostly illustrations, you’ll need content for that marketing.
Writing a press release requires a slightly different skill set than writing a novel. Writing an effective article for your blog requires a slightly different skill set than writing a press release. Even if you feel like you can “write anything,” you might find all the extra work of marketing a book to be a very heavy lift indeed.
Build that Platform
Building your author platform prior to publication can involve any or all of the abovementioned tasks, and a few more. Simply stated, an author platform is a line of communication between you and readers, a built-in fanbase.
Not long ago, I was running a meetup group, and during the meeting we were talking about publishing. One of the participants said she figured she could upload her debut novel to Amazon, click Send, and the money would start rolling in. She literally used the words “rolling in.”
I use this example not to poke fun, but to illustrate just how delusional we creative types can be, prior to publication. It sounds funny, but many people erroneously believe such things.
When you’re writing your literary masterpiece, you have zero objectivity. You are “in it,” and you think it’s the greatest thing ever. Of course you do. You need to think that, and keep thinking it. Believe in the work. Believe in yourself.
But in the real world, it’s a different story. If no one knows who you are – if you have no publications out there – then you have no platform. No built-in fanbase = no sales.
So ideally, before publication, you want to build that platform. That means posting on social media, learning different strategies for different media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, and so on; building a presence for traditional media like radio and TV; having an Amazon Author Page as part of your marketing strategy; and optimizing your author website for search engine optimization (SEO).
I always suggest you build that reader platform out over a year prior to publication. If you are primarily a novelist, and don’t have other content, you need to create some: start a blog, post on that blog, write a short story you’ll give to people for free if they join your mailing list, etc.
All this stuff is basically Marketing 101, and a lot of authors balk at it. Or, they want to find people to do things for them for free. When it comes to help with marketing and PR, you get what you pay for…at best. But if you don’t pay anything to anyone, you’re not going to get much in return.
You can do a lot of this work yourself as an indie author, but most people don’t really know how to do it well. And let’s face it, you can only promote yourself so much before people tune you out. It’s much better to have someone else promoting you.
For that reason, I created a program for authors that I offer on a one-to-one basis. As a busy professional freelance writer and author myself, I don’t take on many clients, but I’ve decided to make it available again once my latest book launch ends. Best of luck to all my fellow indie authors out there!