Promotion. If you’re an author — you’re either bouncing happily or you’re cringing in your seat. Me, I’m more than likely doing the latter. It’s not that I hate promoting, it’s just that sometimes promotion and I don’t always go hand in hand. However, with some creativity and dedication, I’m getting learning the art of organization and preparation for how to be more effective at promoting myself and others. Does this mean I promote every day? Not necessarily, and it’s not always a good thing for me to promote daily.
Promotion is a many splendid thing. It’s also a hydra that can drown you if you’re not careful. What promotion does is help you get your name out there. It helps put your book out there for others to enjoy as well. There are authors who can promote daily and make millions. Others who don’t and make millions. The rest of us are in the middle. We promote, we don’t promote- but either way, we don’t make millions. Yet, the goal is the same– to let people know we’re there and we have something for them. In my case– it’s stories. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and they’re available for the reading. The idea is how to do it effectively without breaking the bank, my mind, and my time constraints? That’s when a few books I’ve been reading got under my skin and helped me to change how I’ve been looking at promotion.
I’m not a huge newsletter person. But newsletters work. Which means, I’m rebuilding my newsletter from the ground up and I’m doing it in a new way. If you look here on my website, you’ll see a signup for my newsletter. It’ll come out either monthly or bi-monthly, either way- my goal– to let you know what’s going on, what fun things I’m reading– and other fun things going on. It’s in a way an overview of what I put up on my Facebook author page and on my daily Facebook page. It will also have special content you can’t get anywhere else. Why? Because it means those people who read my newsletter will know about special sales of my self-published books that will be for a limited time only that others won’t be aware. There will be special giveaways aimed only for my newsletter readers. It’s rewarding loyalty. They’re loyal readers– thus I will reward that loyalty. Having a good relationship with your readers is imperative. That’s right- imperative. You might be shy, reticent and perhaps have agoraphobia. But when it comes to the reading public online- you need to step out of your shadow and corner and showcase yourself. No, you don’t have to be in the spotlight constantly, however, regular interaction with your readers will draw new ones. It will also encourage word of mouth from those who treat you as an auto-buy. They love your books and will talk your books up to anyone who listens. This is why I do spend time talking online to my readers and to my fellow authors. I am not super shy. People will think I’m not shy at all. But the truth is– part of me gets nervous talking to new people. I have a slight fear of putting myself out to people and that I might get rejected and hurt. Yes, we all do, but I do have a slight higher nervousness about it. Yet, when I was in eighth grade, I learned to push through that nervousness and fear. I started in forensics–speech group. Through the years- I’ve worked my way to going to Nationals all because I learned to talk about any subject doing limited amount of research and to be convincing. It’s served me well through the years because I love to give talks. I love teaching. But personal interaction–that’s still tough for me. So, I work on it.
Facebook, Twitter, blog, vlog, Tumblr, Flickr, Google + — which ones do you do? Which ones don’t you do? Should you do them all? Which ones work best? That depends on what you write, where your books are sold, and your preference. No, you don’t have to do them all. In fact, trying to keep up on them all would be very tough to do. But you should have a personal author page on at least Facebook. If you like the joy of Tweeting because you like short, succinct posts– go for it. I’ve discovered I’m not great at it, but I do have my account that I use regularly, but not as consistently as I should. I have my blog where I blog at least twice a week, sometimes more. It’s on my website, which is one of the most important things you can have for promotion as an author. It helps condense the space where people go to read more about me and my things. I enjoy Facebook a lot. My family, friends and more are there. I also love hosting Facebook parties where I post new books I’m reading, books I’m waiting for, and I post recipes, music and other fun things. I invite other authors to join in the fun because it’s always fun to party with people. Plus, I find sharing the love means the love gets shared back. Consider this when you’re doing your accounts– where can you share promo time with other authors? Because when you can– you should. It relieves some of the burden from being all on you. Also, if you do Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you should be doing Triberr. It’ll help you reach more people and at the same time, you’ll find people with similar interests as yourself. That’s always a great thing.
Goodreads. I’ve put this separate for a reason. I have a Goodreads account. I use it infrequently because I find the site to be a bit overwhelming and some of the things happening there to be a bit off-putting. But that’s me. Maybe once things settle down, I’ll be there more and find more interaction between readers and authors. Right now, things are so jumbled and with the politics happening, I’m waiting for things to settle back down before I wade in. I’ve known authors who use Goodreads and find it a fantastic way to reach readers and expand their readership. I’m learning my way. Others haven’t found it as helpful. There are books out there to help you get started and what to know to keep within the boundaries of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. I’m hoping once I learn the ropes more- I’ll feel like joining in more. But consider it if it’s something you can devote an hour a week to keeping up.
Time is the biggest thing when it comes to promotion. I won’t lie. There aren’t enough hours in the day to write, promote, deal with everything else we have to do and be sane. There have to be priorities. This is when it comes time for the lists. I know which days for the most part are my promo days. I try to keep them organized to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They might change a bit if I’m going to a chat with other authors or if I’m going to a conference- but still, I try to keep to this schedule. On those days, I might still do my writing- but I do my promo things FIRST. I dedicate a finite amount to my promotion. I will start and end those days either on Twitter or on Facebook with a book promo. I will work on blog posts for the coming week, or if I’m doing guest posts– those must be done ASAP. Then I’ll start spending time asking readers questions, or posting snippets of books, I might even put up recipes I’m working on. The idea is that I’m bonding with my readers. I’m not just an author- I’m a person too. I just write stories of that people want to read. But those people do want to know more about me. So, I share some stories about my dog, Shango. I even talk about my fiance, whom I refer to as the male. (This is an ongoing thing for 6 years and it might never end, even once we’re married. Poor man. Even when he becomes Mr. Tregarth, or as I’ve been teasing him– Mr. T. LOLOL) The idea here is work your plan, don’t let your work overwhelm you. Plus, if you have an idea of what you want to do- have a FB party, a Twitter party, etc- you’re setting it up on your promo time or your admin time, getting everything ready and checking back in with everyone. That way on the promo day you’ve chosen, you can focus for those 1-2 hours just on that. It makes life easier. I make sure on my promo days, I check into Triberr and approve the blogs I like and want to send out because they interest me and those I know who are on my lists. That’s part and parcel of my promo days. But I try to limit that promo time on those days to under 2 hours. That way, I still have 1-2 hours for writing– depending on my day job and other factors. Plan accordingly.
Promotion doesn’t have to be a four letter word, though sometimes it does seem that way. For writers, we think our next book should speak volumes. It does. But we do have to also showcase ourselves in this digital age. Even the most shy among us need to connect with others and let people know they’re there and why their books should be bought. Choose your media wisely- not just because you like it and understand it, but so that you’re not stretched so thin that you can’t do anything at all. Where possible, combine things together– like your website and blog. Link your Twitter and Triberr account. Make sure that your Facebook author page posts your blog posts. Make sure you check in at least once a day on your FB page if you have one. If not once a day, at least every other day. Whatever is best and most comfortable for you. Talk to your readers. Tell them how your new writing is going. They want to know. Give them a snippet or two. They’re curious. When you get a new cover– showcase it. It’s promo for when the book is released. Build up that need for that book. Plan your promo time to 1-3 times a week. Small doses of time. Make sure you do the easiest things first. Get them out of the way so you can focus on what will take more of your time. Make sure you check in during that time if part of your plan is hanging out with your readers. Make sure you develop your newsletter if you don’t have one. It will help! Plus, figure out what you can do to make yourself not only available to readers, but special. Showcase your strengths. Make yourself memorable in a good way– not a way that makes people think of you as one of the authors behaving badly. Promo needs to brand you and move you forward in a positive light. When that happens, you’ll find it easier to do because it becomes part of your routine. So plan your routine, even if you’re not a plotter. It will help, trust me.