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Mastering Book Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors

Gone are the days when being a writer was quasi synonymous with standing aside from commercial pursuits. When authors were few and books would sell themselves.

Today there are many wordsmiths: it has become easier to get education and to travel, factors that are often conducive to the inspiration needed for writing, and as per the writing itself, today it is made so much easier by online tools and online publishing.

And that translates to readers nowadays having a vast landscape of options to choose from. There is a lot of competition for the attention of the audience.

Author Marketing Tips for Indie Writers

And so, as a modern writer, you cannot base your success just on writing. You need to stand out, especially if you are an indie writer.

For that, use the tool of marketing, but see to it that you use it in an effective way. 

Plan your strategy!

Selling Books

Selling books is easier for writers who specialize in a genre because the readers of that genre will often walk into the bookshop of their choice, and go straight to the aisle marked with the genre they prefer.

The genre itself sells.

I have a friend who works as an IT Consultant. She loves her work, has two masters and works long hours with pleasure rather than with pain.

But in that still male-dominated world, as a woman, she needs to put in more energy than her male counterpart, in order to be taken seriously. And, she puts forth a more masculine self, to avoid being hit upon.

To compensate for this, in her leisure time, she loves to get immersed in romantic novels.

It provides the balance, I guess, for that part of her as a woman, that needs to be hidden away during work, so that her professional skill is seen, instead of her womanhood.

So, she will always grab a romantic novel when she shops for books.

Another friend just wants to disconnect, and so he goes for bestsellers.

Both friends are readers of mainly one specific genre, whatever the reason.

Romance, mystery, fiction, horror – these are set genres, with a set audience who knows what they are looking for, so writers of a particular genre have a ready-made audience, so to say, though they also have their challenges.

An indie author offers something different, and so, as an indie author, you need to become known for your own writing.

In other words, you need to become your own brand.

Publishing Your Book

As an indie author, you probably don´t write in a mainstream genre, and so you won´t easily get the support of a bigger publishing house.

Publishing houses are choosing the authors they promote carefully, because also for them the competition has increased. Even J. K. Rowling had a hard time to first find a publisher!

After the success, everything becomes easier, of course. But – first we need to get there.

Indie authors sometimes also just prefer to publish themselves, or publish with independent publishing houses, because bigger publishing houses want a good return of their money.

They don’t want to just support your work; they get a big piece of the cake, which pays not only for covering the cost of publishing and marketing your book, but also adds to their own pocket.

And so, for them the commercial success is sometimes more important than the art, which leads them to promote mainly authors where they can foresee the success, and mainstream literature has that visibility more than indie titles.

Think Strategically

So here we go!

Even as a writer, creating alternate worlds, you need to be realistic when dealing with the real one. And that means you need to think in commercial terms if you want to sell your book.

¨A book should be the culmination of lots of different things¨ (Ted Weinstein. So You Want to Publish a Book 1:42)

This is a very practical view of book publishing. But what I want you to take out of this video is following idea:

You need to know yourself. And you need to know your audience.

The next step is to reach it – and for that, you need to think strategically.

As a writer, you know that spoken text differs from written text. So also, the different ways to market yourself need to be understood in order to be effective.

How to Market Yourself

A website is a basic must-have, and will be helpful.

It will be your online representation, and the anchorage, in the online world, of your different marketing strategies – since all of them will basically have a link leading potential readers to your website.

There you can promote your books and publish their reviews permanently, and you can also use it as an additional selling point.

And you can create a following by maintaining a blog: write regularly about your work in progress, about your tours, about your life as an author.

But a website is not enough for you to become a brand, as an author.

Social Media

Indie author promotion is especially important, because you don´t have an industry backing you up.

And so, an organic, passive presence is not enough. You need active marketing strategies to drive additional traffic to your website. You do not only want to nurture your followers, which is important by itself, but you want to also gain more followers and do so steadily.

The different social media platforms will be very useful for achieving this goal. 

How to do so? Does it mean you post something on one social media platform, and then copy and paste it in the next, and in the next, and in the next?

It is here that we need to think twice about how to use every single platform, in order to achieve our goals. 

Pinterest and Instagram, being more visual, can be used for author promotion; photos of yourself, of events, or photos with fans will establish your image as familiar. Near and dear mostly go together, and here this means in the process you will be creating your own brand. 

The former Twitter, now X, is a debating ground known for brevity and sharpness of communication and thought. So, it will allow an additional interaction line between you and your followers, that provides for easy interaction that can lead to many an interesting exchange, while making you a living presence for your readers.

Facebook allows you to grow – and nurture- a faithful community that will follow your every post. Here the nurturing part is essential.

In each one of these platforms, you will find different followers – and provide them with various ways to interact with you. Which is what you are aiming for as a marketing strategy, when it comes to you as an author, as a brand of your books.

Leverage them all, and remembering the importance of consistency in visual branding, use the same picture of yourself in all of them, as well as putting the link to your website in each one of them.

These are all ways to become more present, and that means having a greater following to buy your books. There are other social media, less known, that can be researched into, but it is through these platforms that you can reach your present and new readers.

But, social media has also a negative side. If not understood and used properly, it might take much time with little results.

Book Tours

Book tours are a classic, and even though they require collaborations with external event’s organizers, they are, for many readers, a moment of magic, their one in a lifetime chance to connect to their favorite authors.

We should not minimize the importance of this personal connecting – the impact is huge, as the author creates a personal experience for the reader, and ensures an even stronger bond of the reader with the author.

Therefore, choose well in the location. The event venue allows for a certain closeness and comfort: a café, a bookshop, libraries.

A book tour is also meant to foster a personal bond, so it should not be a place that is too big and impersonal.

What will happen during a book tour?

You will have to talk a lot, answer question, sign books, take pictures with fans, maybe do some reading or participate in a debate.

You will get visibility – reviewers, maybe journalists, or publishers, might attend, or you can invite them – and get possible new deals, reviews, articles on you written.

Book sales will go up. During these promotional events, you can expect to a lot of books being bought in order to get that special close moment, and to get a signed book.

There are also other aspects of book tours that need to be carefully considered before choosing this option. Read through one or the other first-person accounts of fellow author’s personal experiences with a book tour.

Book Reviews and Email Marketing

Book Reviews will increase your credibility and your sales.

But you should know how to get worthwhile reviews, as some will have no impact whatsoever on the readers. There are bots’ reviews, did you know? But readers of reviews look for a book they will really like.

The best way to go about it, is to first take the time to do some research about the different reviewers there are.

Remember to add sign-ups links in your different social media sites for email marketing.

Create original sounding campaigns, whenever you have a new event coming up, or whenever you publish a new book. You should then add a brief book description, which, by the way, you can also do when reaching out to reviewers.

You can also just send out some bits and pieces about yourself and your work, like a personalized newsletter.

And create a calendar for yourself, so you send these emails regularly.

A community will slowly develop and build up, strengthening your public image and brand, as their interaction will amount to added publicity and informal reviews, as well as recommendations.

Keep the newsletters brief and sparkling, inspiring, or profound. Whatever comes to you. But write short, personal pieces; not everything you write belongs to a book form.

See it as a type of prime membership that your following gets on you – and a way for you to market your books and events: include always a section with next events with dates and locations, and a link for those who might want to attend.

View It as a Project, Not a One-Stop Journey

It is crucial, as an indie author, to understand the timeline of the process.

You should start your book marketing tactics early on, even independently of your book – through the marketing of your person. That will later aid in selling your book.

Next: let the readers have a peek at your creative process. Post small ´trailers´ of the process: pictures of the work in progress; of the writer at home, a cat on the lap during a break; brief glimpses of the writing.

As you see, the process of marketing should begin even before you write your book, and will finish only after the book is published.

In a way, the whole process is as part of the making of your book.

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