WRITING: Book Advertising For Broke Slackers

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Book Advertising For Broke Slackers

Let me start this off by saying: I don’t advertise often enough. I’m terrible at it, I have a job, life, family, etc. So if I ever start giving you in-depth marketing strategies, run for the hills. I don’t know what I’m talking about, and, frankly, I find the ‘paste your novel everywhere’ card a little annoying. I mean, I’m sure it’s effective–sheer numbers suggest it has to be, right? But damn.

But there are a few common-sense type things I do that everyone should at least try once. And the best part: they’re for lazy broke people, like me. So, if you don’t have the time and money to launch a proper campaign, here are some things to do.

1) A link in every blog post.

Sure, I forget occasionally. But for the most part, I have a discreet link to Aurian and Jin embedded in everything I write here (d’you see that? See it? Discreet. Totally.).

As much as we’d all like to think new readers see your posts in their blog feed, are immediately awed by your versatility and eloquence, and go straight for the ‘about’ page, this isn’t true. Most people aren’t going to go further than that one post, or maybe your home page.

So make sure you drop a link in the place they’re looking. Make it EASY for them to find your story. And you can do it again and again and again, a new link with every post–increasing your visibility with very little effort. Almost every time I do this, I get at least one click on that damn link–which might not sound like much, but hell, it’s better than not doing it.

Best part is, it’s a nice and non-invasive way to do it. You aren’t bothering your fans and frequent readers, who’ve already read it/know about it. And keeping these folks happy is sooper dooper important, right? HI FREQUENT READERS, I LOVE YOU.

On a related note: SHARE YOUR BLOG POSTS. Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, whatever you’ve got an account on. Hit that ‘autoshare’ button if you have to, just do it. This way you’re giving folks information and not just a static link to your novel–and well, there’s a link in that information too, if they want to click it.

2) Let your buddies help you.

Sounds basic, right? But the best advertising is word of mouth, and your friends and family can’t tell everybody about this great book Johnny at the bar wrote if they don’t know about it.

So make sure your friends know. They’re your friends–they’ll be super proud of you. Don’t pressure them into reading it–your friend Li who hasn’t cracked a book since high school probably isn’t going to give two shits about the fineries of your plot development–but your friends will be proud of you, and those of them who’re interested in that sort of thing will probably read it just because it’s you. And even the ones who don’t have friends who do, and they’ll likely mention it to them. And those friends’ll mention it to their friends, etc., on and on. A lot of my readers who’ve talked to me have some weird six degrees from Kevin Bacon style relation to me– they’re friends with the mechanic who fixes my aunt’s car, children of the substitute teacher who once taught my friend AP English, etc. It’s fun to figure it out, and it starts a neat conversation.

3) Make your visibility count.

I know we’ve all seen the ‘you need an online presence to sell books’ sort of posts. And it’s true, don’t get me wrong. You need someone to see your link for people to click on it.

But quality over volume every time, people. If you can manage both, go you–but not all of us have a job where we can sit there checking the phone every time it beeps in a Twitterward fashion.

So be pithy. Be clever, be funny, be sweet. Make the time you spend on the internet look like YOU–not just a collection of links, retweets, and jumbled characters. Fill out the ‘about’ sections on profiles when you have one, and make it funny and/or informative. Show your personality, not just your product. This does the dual task of warning away possible haters (‘well, I don’t like what this person has to say, so I probably won’t like this book they wrote’) and inviting possible fans to the table (‘Haha, that was funny! I wonder if this book here is just as funny.’)
Again, it seems basic. But judging from my Twitter feed, we could use this reminder.

4) RESPOND. RESPOND. RESPOND.

Has someone messaged you? Commented on your post? Sent you an email?

For the sweet and salty love of Jesus Cashew-crunching Christ, RESPOND TO IT. How would you feel if you plucked up the courage to send a note to a stranger, and it totally never got responded to? This is alienating behavior, and nobody who wants a fan base should engage in it. Especially if, like me, you only have like five fans.

People like attention. Of course we do, we’re needy bastards and our emotional lives are complex and fraught with peril. And it takes so little, little effort to recognize somebody. Just a simple ‘so glad you enjoyed’ goes miles, and takes half a second to type. If someone has a complaint or a question, answer honestly and non-violently. You’ll get a happy person out of it, possibly a fan, someone likely to remember you and pass the remembrance on to others.

If they reviewed your book–even if it wasn’t a positive review–well, don’t respond. That’s kind of bad manners. But on Amazon, you can always click ‘yes’ on the ‘was this review helpful to you?’ question. A sort of tacit acknowledgement that you noticed the review and you appreciate the time it took, without getting into the nasty territory of responding to reviewers.

AAAAND–

5) Free books, baby.

I’ve already written a post about KDP Select and how I feel about it here, so I won’t trouble you with more of the same. You’ll either do Select or you won’t, and there’re legitimate gripes about it amongst Amazon authors. I happen to love it, and I see a sales spike every time I do a free giveaway.

That being said–nothing gets you advertisement quite like the word ‘free’. Just as an experiment, I did a cold-sell style KDP giveaway a few months ago–even though I did absolutely nothing to advertise it, except (I think) mention it on Twitter, I still gave away about 300 copies in one day, and sold quite a few the day after (I think it was, like, nine. Not one hundred percent sure).

I’ll be honest, the thing I like most about KDP Select free giveaways is my ability to get a spike and some oomph for very little work.

I’d like to repeat: these things won’t make you an instant best-seller. They won’t catapult you to the Top 100 Paid section on Amazon. But, for very little work and no money, they’ll give you positive results. If you want breathtaking results, the sad fact of the matter is you need to put time and money into selling your book. Which some of us don’t have. So. Priorities.

Much love.

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8 thoughts on “WRITING: Book Advertising For Broke Slackers

  1. I always reply to comments and even took the time to respond to a spam comment the other day. I told them to fuck off and then felt guilty, so deleted everything. (Reply and comment.)

    I still have ambitions to carry out a guerrila marketing campaign, but my primary idea risks causing a motorway pile up and multiple manslaughter charges, so I’m holding back on carrying it out. I’ll stick to blogging for now.

      1. Very true. Reminds me of a tale I once heard in a pub one night about an insurance salesman who tried to sell a life insurance policy to a man having a heart attack. I couldn’t be that pushy.

      2. I worry, sometimes, that my last words are going to be ‘buy my book’. Arthur Miller style tragedy. Death of a Book Salesman.

        …which you can purchase now on Amazon for ONLY 99 CENTS!!!exclamationmark!

        *shuffles off mortal coil*

  2. When I originally got on WordPress it was to shame myself into finishing, and hopefully connect with other writers. When I hit a problem, it’s a problem others have had. The insight has been excellent. My writing has improved 10x as a result. One of the things that came into focus right away was the importance of building a ‘platform’. Now I’ve got twitter, instagram, and a facebook page as a writer. I don’t have anything to sell, so I didn’t start off with ‘buy my book!’, – a happy accident to be sure. So instead, I do my best to engage folks, even if I’m dead certain they’ll never read anything I publish. It’s a network, and one of the goals in marketing is to reach folks outside of your own network. If you’re friendly and responsive on social media, this is a whole lot more likely to occur. Then, perhaps, we might reach someone who does want to read the book. All that said, I don’t mind a daily update on twitter from writers with the ‘buy my book’, but there are folks out there who are constantly blasting the message. It really makes me question the quality of the work, and I usually pass those over. Perhaps they’re selling a load of books this way, but are they really reaching the holy grail of marketing – word of mouth? I doubt it. In conversations, I’m far more liable to remark on something a responder may have said on twitter or wherever, then follow that up with a: ‘you should check out their book’. As a ‘consumer’ on twitter, wordpress, or wherever, I’m far more likely to pick up and share a book from a person who is genuine. You see a lot of famous folks tweeting, blogging, whatever, doing just this. They may talk about their project, but it’s not a direct sales pitch. So, anyhow, yeah, lots of us are in the same boat. All of my project $$ is going into computer equipment and eventually an editor. Will there be $ for marketing? Maybe a bit, but I’ll be out there with you and everyone else, and generally following your guidelines, they’re good ones.

    1. Yeah, Twitter’s gotten less and less thrilling to me as I go on for that reason…I think the real problem is, I didn’t start making a ‘people whose tweets I genuinely want to see’ list until I had like a thousand followers, and by then it was pretty hard to sort through the list and figure out who was a real person and who was just a spam city cowboy.

      I have to say, on the rare occasion I’ve bought a tweet-spammed book, it certainly hasn’t lived up to the voluminous hype. 😛 Then again…to do that, it’d have to be Harry Hunger Games and the Song of Ice and The Lord of the Rings, or something similarly titled. Lord.

  3. As someone who is also broke and lazy, and has self-published on Amazon, I found this article very helpful! Right now I am actually resisting the urge to fill this comment box with hundreds upon hundreds of links… I will resist!

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