Here be a guest post by my dear friend and now freshly baked indie author of asskicking, villainlicious thrillers — Renée Miller. She’s known for her bluntness, her intimidating work ethic and her knack for psychopaths.
Give her a warm welcome!
Renée Miller is a freelance writer living in Tweed, Ontario. Small town life is busy, but she’s managed to sandwich a book or two between the demands of housewifery and hiding from the neighbors. Her debut novel In The Bones is now finally ripe for your picking.
Marketing is a bitch. Anyone who has ever had to promote or sell anything knows this. It’s not just a bitch; it’s stupid hard and rarely shows results right away. I don’t like waiting for anything. Writing a novel is an exercise in both ecstasy and agony for me. In addition to my impatience, I have this thing about meeting new people. I hate it. Inside this crunchy exterior is a very shy person. The very thought of putting myself out there and asking folks to do something for me (as in reading my book) makes me physically ill. But I chose this path, so I suck it up and out I go into the world as Cyberspace’s newest Indie author.
My marketing plan when I decided to publish IN THE BONES was to simply talk about the book and give lots of copies away to whoever would take one. Yeah, I suck at marketing. I thought I might convince a couple of bloggers to join me in a virtual tour. Problem is, reviews are hard to come by if you’re not paying for them, and if you pay for them, they’re rarely honest. I don’t want to lie to my readers. I hate spending money. Asking for reviews gets sketchy results too, because a lot of reviewers simply don’t reply to your request. It’s kind of like querying.
But then, a friend (who is also a kickass author) introduced me to a little book she’d written called the Self-Publisher’s Punch List and shit got real from there. I realized I had no clue what I was doing. The author of this book also held an event on Facebook, where authors discussed marketing and more. It was then that I decided I was going about this all wrong. If you want to be perceived as professional, you must behave in such a way. That means you tackle the task of getting readers seriously.
I don’t have all of the answers to what makes a book sell, but I’ve learned that every good marketing plan contains a few key elements.
Giveaways are crucial. I know many Indie authors are warned about the evils of publishing and then giving the book away for nothing. Pricing your book so low it’s practically free is not the same as strategically giving it away. While I think the 99 cent or free model we see on Amazon and Smashwords devalues the hard work authors put into a single book, giveaways are a different animal.
The key is to give the book away to the right readers. This means you don’t put it up so the world gets it for nothing, you give it to readers who will post a review, and so that potential readers will say, “Hey that sounds pretty good. I might just spend my hard-earned cash on it.” Goodreads is an excellent platform for Indie authors, and their giveaway “service” is a fantastic tool. Launch parties are also a great way to give away a few books while also introducing yourself to new readers. You don’t even have to change out of your jammies to host one. I hosted a virtual launch party on Facebook and while it wasn’t a huge event, it was fruitful. Plus, I met some new readers that current readers brought along for the fun. More importantly, I got reviews. We do love our reviews.
Since I mentioned pricing, I should add that the price you slap on that book is also important. You have to find the price that says “Hey, this is worth something,” while not saying, “I’m out for all the money I can get.” I haven’t figured out the magic price range for paperback and eBooks, but I’ve noticed that if authors place value on their work, they seem to sell books just as they would if they practically gave it away. The difference? You aren’t perceived as begging for readers, and you’re gaining readers who aren’t just looking for a cheap read. They might actually stick around for the next book. I priced IN THE BONES according to other books in the genre. I tried to put it midway between the best sellers and the average Indie. Has it worked? Well it’s selling, but a definitive result has yet to reveal itself.
Finally, Indie authors should consider paying for a professional marketing something-or-other to help with increasing visibility. Seriously. Blog tours are not expensive and the rewards are many. You gain visibility, as many offer options like guest posts, interviews and promos on a wide range of blogs. You also gain reviews. Many bloggers review on their blog, and later post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. We need this exposure. Yes, you must give away copies for this, but hey, the reviews (if you’re careful which service you choose) are fair and honest. I chose a basic package, which provided me with a pretty decent tour full of reviews, promotional spots, interviews, and most importantly, visibility.
Self-publishing is much more difficult than I expected, but I can see why many authors are choosing this path.
For me it’s not about the control. It’s not about besting those bastard traditional publishers. I want a publisher. I’d prefer to have someone in my corner. Self-publishing, for me, is a way of proving I belong in this industry, not just to the publishers, but to myself. I didn’t venture into this easily. I fought the very idea every step of the way (as Veronica can verify). But I’m glad I took the leap. This industry is changing. Newbs aren’t going to get the opportunities we used to. Self-publishing lets us take the lead and show what we’re made of, but you have to do it right.
Think long and hard before publishing your book. Make sure it’s edited (preferably by a professional) and have your marketing plan in place BEFORE that book is ready to sell.
If you want to find out how this is working out for her, you can spy on Renée’s blog tour — here there be [expand title=”times & places.”]
March 18 — Reading Addiction Blog Tours
March 20 — The Book Faery Reviews
March 22 — Mallory Heart Reviews
March 23 — Andi’s Book Reviews
March 24 — Crazed Mind
March 25 — Mythical Books
March 26 — Gimme The Scoop Reviews
March 27 — My Cozie Corner
March 29 — Bean Counting Mommy
March 30 — Fictional Reality
March 31 — RABT Reviews
Or just give her snappy novel a try. I’ve even written a brief review (which is something I rarely do, since I don’t read stuff outside my self-educational sci-fi must-read-or-die-stupid list). And trust me, I’m not just being nice because she’s tall and scary. I’m not scared of her.
*scowls fiercely in the random direction of Canada*
And @ all the brave indies among you — what’s your experience with marketing been like? Any tips & tricks you can share that would make this trial by fire a bit less painful?