The self publishing road is never easy. In the past, I noticed a note of distain in some people if I happened to mention my book was self published. At many writing conferences, mentioning you were self published would be the first step before getting a traditional publisher.
But these days, the rules are changing. What matters is that you published a good book that people want to read. The hard part is getting the word out about your book. It’s all a new frontier. Since the rules are being rewritten, I’m keeping track of my round three try at promotion, and seeing what sticks. It all could be new additions to the rulebook.
I’ve been self-publishing my books since 2005. I’ve learned a lot of dos and don’ts, and really put together a well thought out third book with a freelance editor and illustrator. With my previous book, I’d learned a lot of how to promote and where not to promote. This time around, I’m following as many dos as possible, and picking up a few new dos along the way.
My second book didn’t win awards or get as much notice as I would like. It might have been because I was still learning. It got reviews, some mentions on reader blogs, and helped some people to continue with the fantasy series I’ve created. I think of it as a bridge to understanding in many ways. It helped lead to a greater understanding of where to promote for my next book.
With the release of my third book, The Lost Secret of Dragonfire, I decided to try some new areas to promote, awards, and target areas that welcomed self published books. I talked to local bookstores, and found a very receptive owner that immediately welcomed me into her Indie community. I felt that this new approach was starting to finally be my niche.
I entered the deadlines for Indie awards in the spring using a fellow blogger award list. I won honorable mention in the San Francisco Book Festival. In mid May, I drove to San Francisco for the weekend, and accepted my first literature award. I am since working with the promotional company to get the word out about my win, and of course, have a seal to affix to my third book.
While having a conversation with Bruce Haring, the marketing manager of the SF Book Festival, he pointed out, “Ahh, you’re the author that plays the harp.” Immediately I realized that just being an author or a teacher wasn’t making me stand out as an author. It was that I played the Gaelic Harp that was making me stand out from the crowd.
Lead into my first book signing for the third book at Booksmart in Morgan Hill, CA. I had already plastered the flyers with the fact I would play the harp, read from my new book, and answer some Q and A about the Crystal Keeper series. I was greeted by the owner warmly when I entered, with a table and all my books set up. There was a regular crowd, some of my diehard fans, and those people that had come in from the heat for ice cream.
I started with playing the harp including walking around the store to let people know about the talk going on. I did mention about how I play at Renaissance Festivals, which helped me make a connection with people that had attended.
Now, most of the people I was speaking for were children and their parents. So, I preceeded into a prior knowledge questioning strategy before my read aloud, and then read a part of the new book that fit that audience. Yes, it was a very teacher thing to do, but I find using some teaching strategies during book talks works very well during my author talks to my readers, usually ages 8-12.
The turn out sold 22 books at last count. This is considered a good turn out, and I had a lot of fun. I even had one parent ask about speaking at their school and trying to get kids interested in books. Of course, this is my middle name, wanting to get kids interested in books. I gave her my card, and said we’ll talk about how I can help with that, explaining that I was mostly available for talks in the evening.
So, what has this Indie author learned about promoting her book in this round 3 event? Pretty much, the best way to promote a book is to start with yourself. What can you give to a signing or event? You also have to start with a good book. Get that editor and illustrator to help. Then, when it comes time for promotion, don’t think in terms of just your book, but yourself as an author. Promote yourself with your new book.
The one thing I had trouble realizing was that it wasn’t the book but the author that needed promotion. You will write more books. If you get a following for yourself, then the readers will come. But they come back for you and your new book.
Plus, don’t go down the roads that deny self-published books. If you book is a good book, you will be read and accepted as the good book it is. A lot of websites or awards will specialize in self-published books. There is a community forming on the new frontier, the internet. Figure something to promote yourself, some tie in or skill you might have to go with your book, you’ll get noticed out of the tidal wave of new books released. Getting yourself noticed is hard, but having the tools and reliance in yourself will get the work done for you. Remember, if you’re self published, there is the Indie book store and self published community that has grown over the years to help. Come find us. We’ll play!
Here are some links to start:
Groups for Independent Authors
1)Association of Independent Authors-Authors Group
2)Indie ReCon-Great Online Resource and Writing Conference
Indie Award Links
3) Independent Publisher Book Awards (Ippy Awards)
4) Indie Excellence Awards
5) San Francisco Book Festival
In the end, there is a lot out there to promote with, awards, book reviewers, and book bloggers. But targeting to specific reviewers and awards that except Indie and self published books has really helped set myself apart. Plus, just getting to know how I can help sell myself as an author has made all the difference.
I’m still working on getting books out for review, but now I have editors I know from review sites already. I’m targeting my review copies to them. Plus, getting ideas from my writing boards, such as kboards.com, always is a way to get new ideas. I might have to add “To Be Continued” for this part of the story. Round 3 will continue.
**This post is part of the monthly
“Indie Life” posts linked on the Indelibles Blog.