Friday, March 16, 2018

5 Marketing Tips for the Indie Author

If I had a nickel for every time I've said, "If I could just stay home and write books, do nothing else, and earn enough of an income to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge..." well...You get the idea. Marketing oneself as a product is one of the hardest hurdles for an introvert to cross. Writing's difficult enough and now you want me to actually get dressed and promote the book? Can't we just send somebody?

Fact is, this is a business and, just like any successful business, a fair stretch of marketing is required for people to actually KNOW about your product. This means social media banners, book signings, promotions, connections and attending a sprinkling of events where you may or may not have to shake hands, take photographs and smile a lot. Scared yet? You should be.

All right, all right, I'm only kidding.

While every new book published throws out its own life lessons--marketing included--here's a few I've learned along the way:

1. Connections Matter. As in...making connections. This not only means you meeting people, talking with people, shaking hands, asking what they like to read, engaging discussions about great stories, plot points, memorable characters and then throwing in a dash of Game of Thrones nerd-ism, if the mood is right, but also immersing yourself in the world of other authors. As authors, we help each other. It's what we do. If someone you've been following on Facebook releases a new novel, share it, offer to interview the author on your blog and WRITE A REVIEW. I can't stress how much this means to an author and how willing they will (usually) be to reciprocate, once your book drops.

2. Engage Your Audience. Young Adult author Sabaa Tahir's got it going on in this department. The third installment to her Ember in the Ashes series doesn't drop until June, but she's been teasing us with promo posters, excerpts from the book and engaging us in conversation about her characters. In a nutshell, she's gearing up her audience to snag this book off the shelf the day it drops and gobble it up like a cheesecake. If you're an indie author, you can easily take direction from those who have a big publishing company behind them. Use free sites like and to make promotional banners. Slide in excerpts from the upcoming novel. Do a quick video snap when you're in a store and see something that reminds you of your book. Engaging your reader well-before release day will yield boosted sales and get everyone talking about your story.

3. Ask (Nicely) for Reviews. Oh, it hurts just thinking about it, right? Straight up, people, I am a terrible salesperson. The only product I ever sold well was makeup and that's because I'm in full face almost every day of my life and have been since my mother started letting me wear the stuff. You'd think an author would be eager to promote their blood, sweat and tears--their baby!--to the world, but that's almost never the case. But reviews are a necessary evil, if you want to sell your book. Be nice, offer to reciprocate (if it's a fellow author), get your friends and family in on it (they want you to be a bestselling author, right??) and remember to always ask for reviews when you do promotions on social media, etc.

4. Offer Pre-Ordering. This is pretty self-explanatory, but opening your book for pre-orders will boost sales off the get-go. Humans love anticipation! Amazon has a very user-friendly platform for this. If you do autographed print pre-orders, make SURE your books are, one, in stock and, two, you've kept great records. Microsoft Excel is your friend. :)

5. Use Previous Releases as Leverage. No, we're not talking about blackmail. But flashing books you've already published (especially ones with great reviews!) will encourage new buyers. You can also put teasers for your new novel in the back of the one released right before it! Promote your upcoming novel by running a previous book for free. If readers like your voice and fall in love with your characters, they'll stick with you.

What are YOUR marketing tips for indie authors?

1 comment

Andrew Leon said...

It doesn't matter how nicely (or what incentives I've offered) I've asked, it's super hard to get reviews. People won't even sit down and write two sentences.
Or maybe it is just me.

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