So you’re self-publishing a book. Great! You’ve amassed the number of sentences necessary to form a plot (…hopefully, for the sake of sales, you’ve tossed in a vampire or two and a gray-bearded wizard.) Your copy editor has polished your prose and your book cover (a glistening, bloody dagger or maiden of burgeoning bodice) is certain to hook the unsuspecting passerby. Your digital files are finalized and approved by your self-publishing service and all you have to do is hit the “publish” button to go live. Do this. You’re now live! Your book is out there and ready for the millions of fans to purchase and devour. But wait, your work has just begun! Before anyone will read your masterpiece you have to get the word out, and promoting your book is the final step in the self-publishing process.
When it comes right down to it one of the most important aspects of making a self-published book a success is how well it’s marketed and promoted. Your book may be greatest thing since Njal’s Saga, but if you fail to generate publicity, it won’t stand a chance. Effective marketing and promotion is essential. Follow the tips below and in no time you’ll be silencing critics and cashing in on an indelible, self-made literary career!
Disappear for six weeks. The news is out: you’re a new author and you’ve just published your first book! But wait, you’re nowhere to be found? This is because you’ve taken a bus trip to a secluded town in Iowa—and told no one of your whereabouts! (Not even your mother… unless she totally promises to keep it a secret.) Your friends and dear ones are concerned. The national press picks up on the story. By the time you return, your legend will have solidified and any doubt or question over the motive for your “disappearance” will be lost in the haze and confusion of your newfound celebrity! Remember to steal away for at least six weeks: just enough time for your loved ones to file a missing person report and not too long for them to suffer unendurable grief.
Schedule book readings—UNDERWATER. Even indie bookstores are reluctant to sell self-published books (let alone give self-published authors the time and space to give readings), so it’s important to come up with an original way to present your book to the public. Create the publicity you need by organizing underwater SCUBA readings in school pools, public pools, aquariums, reservoirs, lakes or near beaches in coastal areas—anywhere you can hold a good-sized underwater crowd. You’re sure to get a write-up in the local papers when news gets out! Just remember… when signing books, stay dry and on land!
Drop into a professional sporting event. Skydive, with the title of your book printed across your parachute, into the middle of an open arena pro sporting event. Sure, this may disrupt thousands of paying spectators, but the publicity (and possible jail time) is well worth the trouble. As you spiral down toward the bright lights and sprawling field on game day, sow your seed by throwing out thousands of thumb drives loaded with a sample chapters. When you get home, jump online and watch your sales stats for a precipitous spike!
Crash a famous author reading. Publicity (any publicity) is hard to come by, therefore, feel free to use the publicity that some authors have in excess. The next time a famous author comes to town to do a reading (Nobel winners and self-help authors seem to draw the biggest crowds) make certain to attend one of these events. At the end of the reading, when the line begins to form for author signings, set up a card table next to the line with a stack of your books and see what kind of interest you attract? Here’s a secret: Most major authors with big publishing house contracts love it when they get a chance to help out a little know self-
published author. It’s true! It’s highly probable that, once you’ve got your table up and begin signing your books, the headlining author will call you over to join him or her at the main table. Before you know it you’ve got yourself a great friend, an industry insider and a perfect launch for your new self-publishing career!
Price your book like you mean it. There’s a lot of discussion right now about how much an author should charge for his or her book. Some are even saying that giving away your new ebook is the best thing to do… to get that well-needed exposure and to get the book in the hands of people who might develop into future readers and fans. Nonsense! Charge what you want to charge for it! Charge no less than $100 for a physical book and no less than $75 for an ebook. The thought that will come to the customer’s mind is that, if the price is so high, there must be some good reason for it! This pricing scheme may seem counter-intuitive at first, but by doing the opposite of what the mainstream publishing industry is doing you are bound to be doing something right!
Self-publishing can be fun if you keep your chin up and stay optimistic. If you follow these tips, there’s no telling what might happen to your self-publishing career! Good luck and keep writing!
About Martin Fossum:
Martin Fossum is the author of Faking Smart!: Get Hired, Get Promoted and Become a V.P. in Six Short Weeks – GUARANTEED! He currently lives in Seattle with his girlfriend and their mildly psychotic and lovable terrier, Max.