Marketing? Is there any time left for living?

Twitter, bless its tweeting heart, is awash with authors who generously share with you their tips on how to market your novel. Now that I’m ready to publish The Girl with the Haunting Smile whenever I wish, I’m working on a marketing plan. The problem is in deciding which tips to follow. Adopting them all would consign me to the cuckoo’s nest.

Here’s a quick digest of the main tips I’ve had. Build your presence on Twitter. Build your presence on Facebook. Build your presence on LinkedIn. Build your presence on Pinterest. Set up a blogsite. Join in on the Goodreads, Kindleboards, Nookboards, Amazon Kindle and World Literary Cafe forums and the Facebook Indie Author group. On Twitter, use multiple hashtags to connect with authors and readers and get industry information. On some or all of these platforms, start a chat thread about any theme from your novel e.g. football, flower arranging. Nearer to publication time, create a personal website. Go in search of professional book reviews, promos and interviews. Arrange blog tours, contests, Q & A sessions and book giveaways. Write and distribute a press release. Pay for short promos on sites like The Kindle Book Review.

All these ideas are highly sensible but life is short and I plan to keep the cuckoo at bay, so I’ll cut corners. I haven’t yet got off the ground on Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, so they will be sacrificed. I’m not convinced the time spent on forums like Kindleboards and Nookboards would repay itself, so that may not happen either. Nor do I see myself getting round to blog tours, Q & A sessions or contests, though I don’t doubt their value. I’m prepared to have a real go at the rest and hope that will do the trick.

Okay, many writers will no doubt disagree with me (the harder you try, the more you deserve to succeed etc). But that’s a risk I’m ready to take in the interests of sanity and life-extension.

That’s my thinking, anyway. What’s yours?

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About Richard Louden

Maybe it was because languages were my thing but I loved writing at school and I've loved it ever since. Obviously, I hope others will enjoy reading what I write but, now that I am turning my hand to novels, what matters most to me is to write what, as a reader, I would like to read. As a journalist with UK papers, I've written widely on education, business, sport and law. In the creative writing field, I've written the scripts of two TV dramas (BBC and ITV), contributed sketches to TV and radio comedy shows and had short stories published in national anthologies. That doesn’t make me a novelist but I hope it gives me a push in the right direction.

Posted on September 9, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Richard, I use Twitter a LOT. I spend a lot of time adding followers, RTing people. Because of this, I get about 200 RTs a day. Many of my readers have come to me via Twitter. Now, the rest of it.

    Yes, Goodreads is great, too, but you don’t have to participate in all those discussions. Just make sure you’ve got lots of ‘friends’ on there, and get some of them to mark your book as ‘to read’ – thus, it will appear on their news feeds and those of their friends and get known. Add READERS, not just author friends. To find these, go to authors who you think write a bit like you, and send friend requests to their readers.

    Now, facebook. Facebook is a social site, and should be treated thus. If you have a personal page, don’t try to flog your book on it or people will get fed up with seeing it, and hide your posts from their news feed. Even an author page should be used for interaction, not just book flogging.

    I’ve never participated in any other forums, I don’t know what LinkedIn or Pinterest or any of the others are. You don’t HAVE to do all this stuff at all; I manage to sell books and get loads of reviews without it.

    Blog tours and guest blogging, author interviews? Yeah, you can do them, but I’m not convinced they sell books. They probably get your name out there a bit; who knows? There are so many blogs out there that most of them don’t get read by more than a handful of people. I hardly blog, either; about twice a month – only when I’ve got something to rant/write about that might amuse/interest others.

    I think Twitter, used correctly, is the best and most effective way of promoting your book. The other way is to increase your visibility on Amazon, which you do by getting people to ‘like’ and ‘tag’ your book, and by getting new reviews, new sales, choosing search tags wisely when you first publish your book.

    Hope that’s some sort of help, and good luck!

  2. Hi Terry I can’t thank you enough for taking the trouble to share your marketing thoughts. You’re a darling.
    I haven’t as much social media experience as you but everything you say resonates with me. Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest weren’t created for writers. As such, their value must be limited. Blog tours and guest blogs are time-consuming and, instinctively, I feel I’d rather spend my time on Twitter.
    I’m particularly interested in what you say about Goodreads as I’ve been struggling to work out how to build my profile there. I have over 1,200 friends but, as yet, haven’t really related to them. I’ll now take your tip and focus on acquiring reader friends. When my book is out there, I’ll try to get them to mark it as ‘to read’. I’ll also follow your advice about Amazon, which seems to me eminently sensible.
    My thanks again for sharing your wisdom. I really appreciate it.

  3. Richard, have you heard of Mywana? As in Kristen Lamb’s book, “You Are Not Alone.” There is a wonderful community of writers that participate within that community and are extremely supportive. Some are NYTBS authors, some are newbies. But talk about putting the word out there for your new novel. Oh yeah. Come hang out at #mywana, or WANATribe, the new world-wide social network community set up exclusively for artists and writers.

    And by the way, I am in the midst of writing a mainstream romance with a male MC, so you’re not alone.

    Thanks for connecting through Twitter. Nice to meet you! 🙂

    • Hi Karen Good to meet you too. Yes, I have a Tweet Deck column set up for Mywana and it’s a strong community, as you say. So you’re writing a romance with a male MC? That’s very interesting. I wish you the best of luck with it. I don’t know if we’re trailblazers but we’re certainly part of a very small minority. Unlike your novel, mine is anything but mainstream. Only time will tell if it catches on.

  4. With you on the social networking comments 100 per cent. Life is for living as well as writing. But then, when my book comes out, I’m not that fussed about making money (I don’t expect to).

    • Agreed, Melanie. I don’t expect to get rich either. But I don’t like to do things by half and, as this is my first venture into self-publishing, I don’t want to end up wondering if I could have done better.

  5. Hello Richard, Thanks for following me on Twitter. I don’t tweet as much as others, but I do tweet, and I retweet a lot, supporting those who I follow and who follow me as well as new ones I find. I’m trying to structure my time on marketing because I came to the same conclusion you did. I want a life too, and really more than that, I wanted time to write and the “marketing” on social networks severely ate into that time. I tried ads on FB and that went no where as far as I can tell. Spent too much money there. I use Goodreads (their giveaways get my name out there), Twitter and my Facebook novelist page as well as a bit on LinkedIn, but am not really pushing it until my next novel comes out. Figure I’d rather spend time/money on two books than one. I enjoy your blog!

    • Hi Lisa Many thanks for your useful comments. It’s all about trying to find the right places to focus on, isn’t it? I take your point about Goodreads and will work harder there. When my time to publish comes, I’ll try to get as many good reviews as I can. That influences me on Amazon, so I assume it must influence others too.

      • Yes, I’d love more positive reviews, but am, at this point, not pushing too much. I am watching what happens on Amazon/Kindle right now as I opted into the “exclusive” (as in the ebook only being sold on amazon for 90 days) which puts EM into the lending library program as well. I’ll let you know how that works out.

      • Hi Lisa Good luck with that. I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

  6. Hi Richard,

    Great blog. It made me smile. You’re dead right. Following all of those marketing tips will send you bonkers. I know because I’ve only attempted a few of them and I’m already reaching for the Porzac.

    I’ve been meaning to post a reply for the past two weeks but, funnily enough, I haven’t had the time.

    I published my novel Purple as an eBook in September 2011 and in June 2012 I made it available as a paperback with Createspace. My marketing strategy can best be described as Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey. I’ve been learning as I go along, reading lots and trying to digest and implement what others recommend. I’ve finally come to the conclusion there is no definitive recipe for success. Everyone has a different story about how they sell their work.

    I have a website and, like Terry Tyler above, I only post a blog once or twice a month. I tweet when I can, but because of my job (the non-writing one that pays the mortgage) I’m regularly without internet connection for one or two days. I like Terry’s advice about re-tweeting and it’s something I’ll try. I have an author facebook page and I also have a presence on Goodreads (thanks for being my friend). I try to be sociable and comment on other writer’s blogs ☺ I don’t bother at all with LinkedIn. I do post my blogs on Pintrest, but I have no idea if anyone reads them! Doing a blog tour sounds exhausting and ridiculously time consuming. I’ve recently discovered the World Literary Café and their services and support look great. I also recommend Jeff Bennington’s book The Indie Author’s Guide To The Universe and The Kindle Book Review website.

    One thing I do regularly is talk to people about Purple. How old fashioned! I’m long haul cabin crew for a large airline and I work with different colleagues all the time. I try not to make a nuisance of myself but when it feels appropriate I hand out flyers. I know for certain this has boosted my sales.

    I sell exclusively on Amazon and last weekend, for the first time, I used my promo days with Amazon’s KDP Select to give Purple away for free. The giveaway days were Friday-Sunday (I didn’t advertise or tweet about these free days as it was a last minute decision) and the results were incredible – I think. In the USA I gave away 1,719, in the UK 2,857. Since the promo ended my sales have rocketed and Purple is currently #4 in Books > Fantasy > Horror which is the first time it’s been in the top ten of any paid category.

    Considering the last twelve months, I’ve come to the conclusion there’s a bottomless pit of online information and advice for us indie authors. If I’m honest, it’s been stressful trying to keep up with it all. My intention for the next twelve months is to spend less time worrying that I haven’t done enough marketing and more time writing my next novel.

    I hope this helps, Richard, and I wish you the best of luck with your novel The Girl with the Haunting Smile.

    • Hi Graham This is an extensive and very helpful post and I can’t thank you enough for it. I’m delighted for you and congratulate you on your #4 Amazon ranking. Your success with your free promo is amazing, especially as you didn’t advertise it or tweet about it in advance!
      Your comments about the plethora of advice and info available to indie authors strike a chord with me. There is so much help and goodwill out there. It’s all about achieving a balance and choosing which marketing ideas to follow up. Like you, I’m interested in what the World Literary Cafe and The Kindle Book Review have to offer and they’re on my shortlist of websites to cultivate for promotion, along with the likes of Digital Book Today and Kindle Nation Daily.
      I’ve now decided to go for it and I have a target publishing date around mid-November. The best I can do in the meantime, as you say, is to keep blogging and chatting to folk on Twitter and Goodreads and get ready to line up some reviews.
      Thanks again for being so helpful and more power to your writing elbow! I’m Purple with envy!

  7. Richard, you’re welcome.

    I forgot to say, I have no idea why Amazon have listed Purple in the Horror category. I’ve never categorized it as such or described it as horror or used horror as a key word or phrase when registering it. Your blog post Genre? What’s the Big Deal? highlights the confusion in this area and I have to admit I’m still baffled. Purple is a mixture of fantasy/paranormal/ghost/humour it could even be described as Visionary & Metaphysical (yes, that’s a category).
    I’ve contacted Amazon for an explanation and they replied, ‘We’ll need a little time to look into this issue as to why your title “Purple,” is listed under “Horror” ctegory.’

    One day it may all become clear!

    Congrats on making a decision on the publishing date. I’ll keep my eye out mid November

    • Hi Graham That’s a bit of a mystery. I was under the impression that Amazon always left it to the author to decide which category or categories to list under. Still, maybe it’s no bad thing that Purple was listed as it was. You would have been hard pressed to improve on your #4 ranking if you had been listed differently!

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