No, I’m not a highly successful self-publisher – I have only put out one book, and it’s not on the bestseller lists! I haven’t put in the time or utilised all the possible ideas as much as I could have, to be honest.
But the following are still very useful tips which I’ve picked up from various sites and books. Some require basic to medium internet knowledge, but mostly they are simple and cheap ideas.
Some may work better for you than others, but there’s very little cost involved, so they’re worth trying out. It’s more about learning to put yourself out there – you can write a great book but people need to know it exists!
- It’s preferable to start publicising yourself before you launch your book – try to build a following first. Start with a website (sites such as WordPress & Weebly provide free, simple sites which you can upgrade for a cost later) on which you can blog and post other writing such as poems, short stories, essays, travel writing. People who know and like your writing are more likely to buy a copy of your book once it’s out.
- If you self-publish, definitely invest in some paperback copies – I ordered 100. These are great to give as a thank you to people who helped with your book; or as giveaways to people to review; and to sell to those who don’t like eBooks – I’ve sold more paperbacks than eBooks so far. Digital print-on-demand is relatively easy and inexpensive these days , and they do an excellent job. Ask them to send you a sample copy to inspect.
- With that, remember to organise ISBNs/barcodes for your eBooks and paperbacks – if you go with one company who does it all for you, they’ll provide them. Otherwise go to your national provider and buy them – it’s far more professional, allows for easier database searching, and sets you up for future bookshop sales.
- Tweet and/or have a Facebook page for your book or you as a writer (save your personal pages for your friends and family). Facebook is easy to use and probably the most common social media page used by potential readers. Twitter has a surprising community of authors who are very supportive (and ones that will flog you with their book, but you can mute them). Plus the 140-letter message constriction is a GREAT writing exercise!
- Organise business cards with your name, book & website – cheap, simple, and very useful when you’re chatting to someone and they say ‘Ooh, I must remember to look up your book when I get home!’ Give them a card – it saves them putting details in their phone and it’s hard for them to not take it! You can take advantage of offers for free business cards using companies such as Vista (they regularly offer free cards to get you interested in ordering other promotional items, which you can accept or not).
- Put a signature on your email with your author name, book title and a link to your website. A very simple and effective idea which I picked up from Maria Murnane, an author and CreateSpace blogger.
- Give a free copy to the National & State Libraries as per the Legal Deposit requirements (this is an Australian law, so check what is required in your own country) – being a library nerd, I considered it an honour! Your writing is then recorded for history and the listing comes up in web searches. Give or sell your book to your local library, too.
- Enter competitions with all or part of your book, or short stories, essays, etc. It gets people’s attention and gets your name out there, and you can meet some great authors and readers. I got some amazing critiques out of an online competition for YA books (the Chapter 1 Blitz run by Freshly Squeezed), and the chance to get my work read by an English agency.
- Start an author page on the Goodreads website – you can use their Giveaway your book to gain reviews and attention, however, it’s hit and miss, and it can become expensive to post books overseas. It can be done before publication or within 6 months of release. You must have paperbacks available to send out.
- Give free copies to people to review, on Amazon or the other book-selling sites or Goodreads. More reviews attract more people – don’t be afraid of ‘bad’ reviews, as some readers happily ignore them if they like the book’s concept and writing style.
- Put your first chapter up for free on your website, Goodreads, Amazon or the other bookselling sites. It allows people to get a taste of your book, just like flipping through a hard copy in a bookshop. My last one for the day is somewhat harder – it’s one that I’m working on now. Have more than one book available to interest people. The more you write, the more they read, so the idea goes! But that’s time and creativity and hard work, so it’s all up to you in the end 🙂