Adventures in Indie Book Marketing

Happy 2019! The year started off on a fun note for me, with all the excitement of a new book release. Though it’s my 13th time publishing a book, I pushed myself to do a lot more this time in terms of both increased editing cycles and release marketing.

I think the former was far more successful than the latter, but the marketing was an interesting experience overall. I followed a helpful BookBub list of ways to promote a book release. Some were obviously not viable, some would have been cool if I’d known how to do them, and some were straightforward and practical.

It’s a big learning curve for indie authors, doing most if not all of this on our own. Those of us who are savvy with social media—and that does NOT include me—have a big advantage in today’s market, but it’s only one element to book promotion. I suppose it’s like any independent creative work; you have to keep stepping in and trying, stepping back and taking stock, stepping in again with a fresh idea. I made graphics, prepared and purchased ads, researched similar authors, posted and tweeted things, updated my website. I didn’t set specific goals, which might have been a mistake, but which ultimately took most of the pressure off the process. I sold a small number of the new book on pre-order, doubled that when it launched, and continue to sporadically advertise and promote it as the mood strikes.

Is this casual approach to promotion going to get my books on a bestseller list? Definitely not, no way, NOPE, but it’s just a shove or two beyond my comfort level, and that’s not a bad place to start. Not to mention it won’t hurt my sales to push a little harder, even if it doesn’t work a self-publishing miracle.

Other than more rigorous editing and more attempts at marketing, something else has felt markedly different this time: I’ve had a lot more faith in my book from the start—in this book and in all my novels, which has translated to less internal awkwardness about offering and promoting it. While I don’t believe my books are the best things ever written, I believe that they’re good enough, as good as a lot of what’s out there, entertaining and interesting.

Coming from a more confident place allowed for a more ambitious investment in my time as well as money, made me want to do more rather than feel like I should. I just released the new book in paperback as well as the initial Kindle, giving me more options in terms of sales, events and giveaways, and am hoping to plan a small local book launch party/book signing next month, which I could even possibly (gasp!) feature on Facebook Live. At the very least it’ll be a chance to get together with friends and family and drink beer, which I’d consider a win even without a single new sale.

I’ve always found any self-promotion challenging, but I don’t think that’s too surprising—not for any of us who thrive through the solitary, private process of creating. Though I love sharing my thoughts and experiences and process with others, ultimately the part that makes me most comfortable and fulfilled is sitting in front of a computer, by myself, getting lost in the words as I type them onto a page. Even writing a blog post pushes my limits to a degree, while the idea coming up with a clever tweet or Instagram caption gives me a highly unpleasant twinge and no satisfaction whatsoever.

I’ll probably set up another BookBub ad in the coming months, depending on how much I feel like spending, as that gave me a better return on investment than either Amazon or Facebook with the current algorithms in place, and am organizing some giveaways. Honestly, though, I can’t think too intensively about a larger marketing plan, as I very quickly get very overwhelmed. I feel most confident when I take it in small, manageable bites, breaking each bullet down to identifiable and straightforward tasks, taking one faltering step at a time outside the boundaries of my personal comfort zone.

Every step, no matter how small or feeble, gives me new opportunities to learn from this daunting, exhilarating and challenging adventure, and do it even better next time.

For those who may be interested, these are some of the ways I promoted the new release, most of them out of this BookBub article.

  • Created and ran a 5-day BookBub ad
  • Notified BookBub of the new release so they could promote to my followers
  • Changed my website landing page to feature the new title
  • Changed my social media account profiles (Twitter & Facebook) to feature the new title
  • Promoted the title via social media using a series of different ads
  • Boosted a Facebook post for the new title release
  • Included the first chapter of the new title at the end of previous books as a preview
  • (In planning) Holding a contest to giveaway copies of the new title in both formats
  • (In planning) Throwing a book launch/book signing event at a local business, promoting on blog, Amazon author page and social media

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