So, you’ve just written your first or second book, and you’re not sure where to go from there. A year ago I was in those shoes. I started out with absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I have learnt a lot over just one year, and today I’m going to share my current knowledge with you.
1- Establish good relationships with other writers, agents and book reviewers
This is key because the writing community is quite tightly knit. Almost everyone is lovely and you’re bound to make some really good friends. While it’s nicer to have friends with authors who write the same genre as you, don’t feel limited, you can talk to everyone. This is important for a few reasons. For one, on social media, you’ll have a consistent audience. Secondly, you can approach them to ask for reviews (in exchange for an ARC) or to be a beta reader or critique partner. Thirdly, word of mouth. It doesn’t take much for one success to spread through the grapevine once you’ve got a good collection of friends in the writing community.
2- Contact local indie book shops
Since it’s very unlikely you’ll get your book onto a mainstream bookstore’s shelves, it’s best to aim for indie bookstores. These shops are usually much more open to supporting smaller, local authors, so see if there’s any in your area. If they agree to stocking your books, you’ll have to come to some sort of deal regarding money, but once they’re in any bookstore you can start promoting that on social media like mad.
3- Use social media a lot, but don’t be self obsessed
When going through social media, the last thing anyone wants is someone constantly saying ‘Buy my book!!!’ over and over. You should be on at least 2 social media sites and keep them updated regularly. Be personal if you’re comfortable- share a selfie or two, or a picture of your cat, whatever you want. Let your audience into your everyday life and let them see why you’re relatable. People like to talk to people that get them. If every one of your posts is about buying your books, you come off as desperate and trying too hard.
4- Use targeted ads on Facebook
If you use Facebook, definitely use targeted ads. This means establishing a clear, concise audience that the advert will be aimed at. Firstly, the advert itself should be the blurb of the book (maybe followed by a review) and the link/picture. Cut to the chase, make people interested. Narrow down who would be interested. Is it young adult? Or is it Historical? If so, target people who like The Witcher, Game of Thrones, and so on. Think of any hobbies, jobs, education, books, TV shows and films that your reader might be interested in and add it.
5-Play to your special bits
What I mean by this is, if there is something unique or different about you, utilise it. For example, I am a mentally ill autistic female writer. A fairly big minority. Therefore, it gives me a unique insight and experiences that help me write different stories. I’m also very young for a writer, so it’s easy to make headlines such as ‘Youngest author in Gloucestershire’ and I can use that title to target schools for talks and workshops.
6- Contact local schools
Speaking of school, this one is good since everyone has contacts. If possible, contact your local schools- bonus points if it’s one you went to! This works out me personally since I’m young and my old secondary school is quite tightly knitted. You can do a creative writing workshop, or a talk about the life of an author, or if the audience is more intellectual you could even go into the nitty gritty bits of publishing and marketing and whatnot. Choose a talk that fits you and your books.
7- Put spare copies of books into charity shops
Not everyone has spare copies of their books lying around, but if you do, consider donating them to a local charity shop. You won’t get money obviously, but loads of people visit charity shops for cheap books daily. And who knows, if someone buys it and likes it, they might check you out on social media! It’s a shot in the dark but it can play off. At the very least, your book is out there and in new, different places and getting exposure.
8- Contact your local newspaper
If you have a local newspaper, try and contact them about your book launch. Now’s not the time to be hugely humble, you have to really sell yourself. Any past achievements, good reviews or awards should be mentioned here- after all, newspapers want people to pay attention. Some places might not bother, but definitely give it a shot. It’s always nice to see your face in the local newspaper!
9- Do giveaways
Everyone loves a giveaway. If you do a giveaway of one of your books, plus maybe something else (if you’re an artist, you could do prints of your work!) it means that even people who haven’t had the chance to buy a book can get involved. Make sure it’s signed too- everyone loves a personal message! Almost anyone will take part in a giveaway if possible because there’s no risk, you just have to sell the giveaway right. In other words, make your book sound really good, and there shouldn’t be any problems. I did a giveaway last year of my first book signed, and all people had to do was review any of my books on either Amazon or Goodreads. To go along with it, I made some of my other books free on Amazon for a few days, to give some people a chance to read some of my work before taking part.