“So that’s it? I set up a blog and a webpage and I’m done marketing my book?”
In addition to a web and blog page, you will also need to establish an author’s account on some of the various social networking sites (SNS) available on the Internet. Facebook, My Space, and Twitter are the most common ones, although there are dozens of SNSs available. Set up profiles on as many of these networking sites as you want or on the ones where you feel you can have a greater presence. A great website for the serial social networker is Ping.fm, which allows you to post to numerous networking sites simultaneously. Just bear in mind that Ping should not be used as an excuse to establish a presence on every SNS available, because the more time you spend maintaining these sites and networking means the less time you spend writing.
You will also want to join a few forums and chat groups to make your name known throughout the community. I suggest a mix between those directed primarily to writers and those frequented by fans of your genre. A good place to begin is Goodreads. This site is dedicated to writers and readers and maintains numerous chat groups that span all genres. Beyond that, do your research and check out various forums/chat groups until you find a few where you feel comfortable and enjoy the discussions. As with the social networking sites, moderation is the key.
“Cool. I love Facebook. I have a couple of dozen zombie pets that I’m taking care of.”
You’re missing the point. Your goal is to market your book, not to steal your friend’s zombie rabbits or create photo albums of your last trip to Europe. Always remember that you need to market yourself as much as your book. The best way you can accomplish that is to establish a reputation as a reliable expert in your genre. Although it’s important, don’t use these sites just to talk about yourself and update people on your latest writing project. Discuss the latest books and movies in your genre, provide links to other sites that are of interest to you and may be of interest to your readers, offer the latest news in your genre or the publishing industry, or maybe write a series of blogs on how to get published. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a thousand followers at the end of the first week. This is a slow process, so be patient. If you market yourself correctly and give it time, slowly but surely you’ll build up a following of fans who will want to read your book, who will tell their friends to read it, and who will eagerly await your next novel. (NOTE: Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It!, available from Amazon, provides an excellent step-by-step approach on how to achieve this.)
There are two important things to keep in mind when blogging and networking. First, always use your writing name when posting. While it might be fun to call yourself zombiebunnies on Facebook, it makes it almost impossible for your fans to find and follow you. Second, avoid controversial subjects and flame wars with fans and colleagues. This is one of those instances when bad publicity is worse than no publicity. If you take sides on political issues, militantly support certain causes, or publicly and consistently lambast a colleague as a hack who can’t write for merde, you run the risk of losing major portions of your fan base.
Finally, there are other things you should do to market yourself and your book:
Book signings. These are your most important venue for building your fan base. And don’t limit yourself just to book stores. General book and genre conventions are also a big draw for fans. Of all the horror conventions I’ve attended, authors are among the most popular celebrity guests. John Lamb, author of the Teddy Bear Mystery series, once told me that he sells almost as many books at teddy bear conventions as he does at book signings.
Guest blogging: These are vital for new authors to get their names out in the public domain. There are many established blogs that allow aspiring or first-time authors to guest blog on their sites. I am indebted to Dawn's Reading Nook for allowing me the opportunity to talk about my writing and the industry on this site. Patricia's Vampire Notes once posted an interview with me, and Raven Kelly - Vampiress has posted my author’s bio as well as a link to my book. I’ve made several new friends and fans thanks to their generosity.
Look for every opportunity you can find to get your name out there. See if you can convince your local radio and television stations or newspapers to interview you as a hometown celebrity. Try and arrange virtual book tours (which is especially important if you’re an e-book author) where you have chat room discussions on various forums. Spend the time and effort to create a video trailer for your book that you can post to YouTube. Donate autographed copies of your book to charity events, or do book signings at such events with all the proceeds going to that charity. These are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of things you can do to publicize your book, all of which inevitably increase sales.
Well, that wraps up my blog series on how to get published. Any questions?
“Yeah. You just described a hell of a lot of work to go through to be a mid-list author. Why would anyone in their right mind want to write for a living?”
Good question. Let me answer that… next week.
FINAL BLOG: Why Would Anyone in Their Right Mind Want To Write for a Living?
[This blog was originally posted on Dawn's Reading Nook (here) on 29 May 2010.]