Do you feel yucky when you send out a tweet with the amazon link to your book? Do you apologise for retweeting praise or a good review? Do you just want to hide in your writing cave until your book is no longer 'recently published' and you can go back to normal?
Or maybe you don't say anything about your book at all?
Promotion is increasingly becoming part of the author's job. Publishers don't have big marketing budgets to spend on every book they publish. Or maybe you've gone the self-publishing route - which means all of the marketing falls to you anyway.
However. This goes against the grain of how many writers feel. An author friend of mine confided that she's hugely uncomfortable about blowing her own trumpet. And she went on to say that there is a balance between promotion and over promotion.
Yes, I agree.
After all, we all get annoyed when we follow a writer on twitter and immediately get a DM from them saying 'buy my book its only 99p on amazon'. Or maybe every five minutes you see the same auto-tweet promoting a book. Or an author endlessly retweets reviews of their novel. Or it keeps coming up on Facebook. Or they might send you *shock horrors* a direct message after you've followed them on Twitter pointing you in the direction of their book on Amazon.
Your response as a reader? Immediately you unfollow. Or mute them. Either way this completely goes against the intention of the writer who hasn't realised, perhaps naively, this is an extremely annoying thing to do.
But as an author of a book you cannot do nothing. You've just poured all your creative energies into this book. It has been a labour of love. You've invested maybe a year of your life.
Why would you allow the tumbleweed to blow? This is HUGE. And a massive achievement. The book deserves to be read.
You know this. So you close your eyes tightly and press send on a number of tweets about your book. You don't want to, but you know you have to.
There are a number of issues with the scenarios I've mentioned above.
1. You're adopting a sales strategy towards marketing. Personally I don't think readers like being 'sold' to and I'm sure authors feel uncomfortable doing it. So it's a half-hearted sales marketing strategy. The author comes across as apologetic about their writing and who is going to buy a book the author is apologising for?
2. You're hard selling your book to other writers. Yes, these people need to know about your new book. But, unless your book is about the craft of writing you need to attract other readers, too. And you're risking alienating those that do follow.
3. You're also hoping your current followers will share to their followers in order to reach more people. You're effectively giving the control to somebody else.
4. You're think about marketing or sales AFTER you've written the book. It's the irritating thing you have to do. Oh, *sigh*, now I've got to market my book. And this irritation and reluctance shows in your messages.
So, what's the answer?
The answer is to stop selling. And start engaging.
Yes, I'm putting that in large letters. And adding it again with an image.
Stop reacting to the fact you have a book to sell. Stop being a reluctant salesperson.
And put those energies into building an online author platform.
And when I say platform, I don't just mean creating a twitter account and connecting with fellow authors and following publishers. I mean creating a solid presence online and leading people to it via a broad spectrum of social media.
You can't just wait to be spotted. You can't cross your fingers and hope your book will be bought by a supermarket. Or that Amazon will bring your book to the attention of thousands of readers. Or that someone with thousands of followers will retweet the link or share it on Facebook.
You need to take the control back and stop relying on others to sell your book.
By creating an author platform you might write about something unrelated to your books but it's still something your potential audience is interested in.
Or you might publish a short story on your blog or in a newsletter once a month. (Joanne Harris regularly writes small stories on Twitter). You might share recipes, or tips. You might describe an unusual hobby you have. Or you might write about your writing process or journey. Or parenthood. Or where you live.
Whatever you decide to do you'll be creating a relationship with an audience. This audience will become engaged and connected. They'll look forward to reading your blog, or seeing you on twitter, or the funny anecdotes you share on your Facebook page. Your Instagram account is one they love to follow.
They follow you because they want to. Because you entertain. You give them a lovely read, an inspiring photograph.
So it goes without saying they're also highly likely to buy anything you might publish.
Because they TRUST you and they're already fans of your work that you're providing online for free.
And this doesn't just apply to those already published. It applies to those looking for representation or a publishing contract.
I know it works. An agent signed me when she read my work online. Yes, she found me. This is not intended as a brag, by the way, but to emphasise that marketing yourself and raising your profile through social media does work.
Now I want to build up my social media platform even further. I decided in 2015 to market myself as a brand. And this is why I created A Bookish Baker.
The aim was and still is, that by the time I finish writing and editing my book I will have a generous amount of followers who enjoy my writing. An audience who enjoy my content (which is, incidentally, related to the novel I'm writing and the other non-fiction book ideas I've had) and would naturally want to read a book I've written. Hopefully this would then convince a publisher that I'm a good bet because I already have an audience out there.
This isn't a cynical way of looking at things. Conversely I like being a social media fan of a number of other people out there and would buy any book they write in a heartbeat. It's a natural progression. In fact, I've already done so. I'm a follower of Laura Jane Williams' blog, Superlatively Rude. And the smaller stories she writes in the captions on Instagram. When her book was released I happily bought her book, Becoming, in hardback.
Why not try it? Whether you're published; traditionally or self and want to stop 'selling' your books when it comes to publication day, whether you're looking for a book deal like me, or after an agent, or for any other reason you want to bring attention to something you've created.
Create an author platform. Create your brand. And get yourself out there.
What have you got to lose?
Tips on how to create an author brand
1. Where is your audience? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn? Find out and create a presence there.
2. Spend some time thinking about how you want to be seen. Think about what you want to write about. Bear in mind that many readers love to 'know' the writer behind the blog, or the book, or the magazine article (though being completely open isn't compulsory - you can create a 'curated' view of your life).
3. Don't rush into social media until you've thought it through. Think about consistency. Have the same name for all your different social media accounts. Think about what you'll post and how this will show your brand in the best light. Incidentally you do not have to be on all social media platforms. Be strategic.
4. Write a plan. This doesn't need to be pages and pages. But plan ahead. This will also save you time in the long run.
5. I've found the best way to create your brand is to combine a number of platforms (though you don't have to be everywhere).
6. Create a blog. I think this is incredibly important as all your other platforms will point towards it. With all these other platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc), you're dependent on them being around. (Remember MySpace? Friends Reunited?) If all your followers are on Twitter and it folds tomorrow or your account is hacked and wiped - you've lost all your followers and readers. In addition algorithm changes can wipe out your engagement over night. You should never be reliant on one platform.
7. Create a mailing list. This is a way to reach your raving fans. And, with number six in mind -writing a newsletter and capturing email addresses is essential.
8. Learn how to take photographs with your phone. Social media is increasingly visual - it's not just about the words. You are at risk of alienating people with fuzzy, badly lit photographs. Upgrading to a phone with a better camera changed everything for me.
Twitter: The Yorkshire Shepherdess @amandaowen8 and Herdwick Shepherd @herdyshepherd1 both created twitter accounts and gained a large amount of followers simply by showing their fascinating life and have now written books.
Facebook: The Unmumsy Mum is a great example of someone who built a huge following on there before getting a book deal.
Instagram: Learning to take pretty pictures with an iPhone and creating a curated feed is a great way to build followers and a community of people who like your work and writing.
Newsletter subscribers - newsletters are being seen as increasingly important and becoming more popular especially as social media algorithms are changed.
There is also Snapchat, Steller, Medium, Periscope. Lots to have a look at. But do not get overwhelmed at this stage. Take it one step at a time.
From there you could then pitch other websites, magazines both on and offline. The possibilities are endless.
And the audience is enormous.
I have a FREE mini ebook which goes into social media marketing for writers in much more detail.
It will cover the whys and whats of social media marketing as well as giving you practical steps to take.
If you'd like to receive a copy sign up to my mailing list and the link will arrive in your inbox.