I took on the task of self-publishing my little memoir, wanting to share my story but realizing it wasn’t going to be a blockbuster, riveting, must-buy book for the general public. Memoirs are very personal, sometimes controversial, always revealing. Having the nerve to write about and share a difficult, yet joyous, time in my life was only the beginning of this book journey. Marketing a self-published book has been another world altogether.
The most critical question after the words are finished, the cover design is commissioned and created, the book is available by print-on-demand (definitely a plus since my first published book where I paid to have printed many more copies than were sold) and on Kindle, and a few kind friends write reviews on Amazon: WHO IS THE AUDIENCE?
Answering that question is like finding the needle in the haystack or Goldie Locks’ relief when settling down in Baby Bear’s bed after Papa Bear’s bed was too hard and Mama Bear’s bed was too soft. You might think it’s one group of people, e.g., runners or friends or wives who were betrayed by their then-husbands or single mothers, and find out that another group of people, e.g., men who’ve experienced painful divorces or former colleagues who are interested in your backstory, appreciate the book as well. All of this is good but it makes defining how to reach these diverse groups of people more challenging.
Once the audience is identified, you must figure out how to get them to take notice of your little book. Social media abounds with ways to interact with the world or a subset of it, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You could email everyone who’s ever been in your contact list or at least those with whom you have a more personal connection (who may feel compelled to purchase it in case you ever ask them about it). You could gather every ounce of nerve and walk into your local, independent book store and inquire whether they feature books written by local authors (I haven’t done this one yet), or would promote an author’s night where you could read excerpts from your book, or maybe a friend owns a book store (Eureka Books) and invites you to a book signing (Ah, how awkward to sit at a huge table at the front of the store with a few of my books only to have two people request a copy and a signature); maybe someone will write a review for the local newspaper.
Marketing venues are potentially infinite, so I started slowly and with what I was comfortable:
My son created a website for me with discrete pages for and descriptions of my books, along with my other writings, and links to Amazon to be able to purchase them. http://www.paburgess.com
I created a Twitter account to tweet about my book, running, musings, and post photos (yes, I probably should also have an Instagram account). A website-guru friend advised me to tweet promoting my book every several days, given the fleeting nature of tweets. Ah, easy enough to do but I don’t like to be saturated with the same stuff so I’m hesitant to do that to others. It is rewarding (for a few seconds) to see some “favorites” and “retweets,” but I’m not sure it’s led to any books being purchased. https://twitter.com/pburgess314
I have a Facebook page where I post musings about hiking, running, family, and ideas for future projects. It’s been one of my primary marketing sources along with Twitter for my book. Again, the goal is that something will spark one of my friends (or their friends if they share a post) to consider my book. Like Twitter, the posts soon scroll to the bottom of the page, and not wanting to overwhelm friends with the same thing (please buy my book), I find this is only partially useful. https://www.facebook.com/patricia.burgess.5496
I reviewed a book for a women’s running website to which I’m a contributor. http://www.saltyrunning.com. The author of the book emailed me and after a few exchanges, I mentioned my book and whether she’d be interested in reading it. Yes, “Have your publisher’s publicist contact me.” Ha, that’d be me! Maybe she’ll read it and recommend it on her website. That’d be great!
That same son who created my website has recently created Connect A Book, a social community for lovers of books. I was the first guest author and delighted to have the opportunity to share books that inspired me in my writing. My hope with this connection (no pun intended) is another venue for marketing my book. Daunting given the audience and the talented authors but we all start someplace, right? http://www.authors.connectabook.com/patricia-burgess-on-first-friends/
I post longer writings on Medium, finding it a good platform to read other writers and to gain some readers to my writing. I haven’t yet determined exactly why certain of my essays engender better visibility and viewers than others, but I enjoy the task and tracking my readers and referrers. https://medium.com/@patriciaburgess
No matter what the marketing medium is, of course, there’s the smaller group that might actually purchase my book, read it, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or (the best) recommend it to a friend. I read an article recently about an author’s “dismal” sells of a book (500 copies): I’d love to reach that number! My bookstore owner friend says it only takes one person’s recommendation to spark the engine of interest in my book. Who will that be?