There’s That Ugly Word Again – Promotion

There’s no getting away from it. If you write and publish, you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of other writers and millions of books. Advice, good and bad, comes at you from all sides, and it’s almost impossible to distinguish the good from the bad. Or at least the useful from the useless. To make things worse, the sands are always shifting under your feet and what worked yesterday is a waste of time (and money) today.

What makes the most sense for me when it comes to self-promotion is to know what I am and am not willing to do to promote my books. How much time I’m willing to put into it. (Not very much.) How much money I’m willing to spend. (For promotion? Not even a penny.)

It also makes sense to read as widely as possible, to pay attention to the most successful writers when they tell us what works for them, and then ignore what doesn’t fit our own situation.

Every little bit of knowledge helps, so consider this my way of adding to your knowledge. And remember that everything you read needs to be taken with a grain of salt and with your own needs and preferences in mind.

1. David Gaughran has made Let’s Get Visible available for $.99 through Friday. It concentrates on using Amazon to its best advantage and offers a ton of information that you probably didn’t know about Amazon’s algorithms, best seller lists, etc.

2. Write, Publish, Repeat: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. This is a very chatty book with a lot of material that’s more entertaining than useful, but it does have a solid core of “how-to” that anyone can use.

3. “The Writer’s Guide to Building an Email List” from Your Writer Platform blog. The more I read about mail lists, the more I’m convinced that they’re an important method for increasing your readership. But only if they’re done right and are part of a sensible promotion strategy.

4. More on setting up a mail list, specifically with Mailchimp, courtesy of a Kboards member. A Total Newbie’s Guide to Getting Started with Mailchimp.

5. Mystery writer Louisa Locke explains the importance of using Amazon’s search bar. Lots of stuff I had no idea about, since my main interest in the search bar has been as a reader. “How to Sell Books in the Kindle Store with the Search Bar.”

6. Finally, if you’ve been wondering whether it’s worth it to blog and want to know how best to do it as a part of your author’s platform, Your Writer Platform comes to the rescue again. This time, with “5 Steps to Blogging Mastery for Fiction Writers.”

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8 thoughts on “There’s That Ugly Word Again – Promotion

  1. Thanks a bunch for the mention, C.S.! Much appreciated, although I have a bit of a different take on the idea of “promotion”. 😉

    For me, authors have two jobs: two create brilliant work, and to get it into the hands of the people who can most appreciate it.

    How you do that–as you mention–has to be real and natural for each writer. If it’s forced, if it’s painful, or if it leaves you feeling dirty, you’re doing it wrong.

    There’s nothing “icky” about sharing a message that you believe is important, with people who may benefit from hearing it. The key, of course, is finding those people. I think that’s where many authors struggle.

    Just my two cents! 🙂

    Best,
    Kimberley

    1. I agree. I think that, for a lot of people, the “ickyness” of promotion comes from too much bad advice and too many bad experiences in following that advice.

  2. 1. When I was setting up a Mailchimp account, and got to the the place where it wanted (and would put on EVERY email it sends out) my REAL address, I backed out. I’m not going to do that, nor am I going to pay for a box rental every month which will get NO mail just so I can use Mailchimp.

    2. People complain all the time about ‘indie crap.’ Yet if you take the time and make the effort to produce what you believe is NOT crap, it is hard to get that information out. ‘Organic’ promotion – word of mouth – takes forever, even for good stuff.

    I have some promotion planned, and it’s going to cost money, but I’ve done well over four years of thinking about it first – I am definitely NOT going to use the traditional indie techniques of writing a lot of books (short books) and promoting the heck out of them. I can’t (but I wouldn’t even if I could).

    OTOH, not being discovered until I am no longer with us (lovely sentence structure) is not an attractive idea, nor is not being discovered at all, or only by a tiny contingent of my beloved introvert followers.

    To write at all, one must have a healthy ego. Mine wants feeding. Ah, the eternal dichotomy – we want to be famous – and also J. D. Salinger-unknown.

    1. The idea of being Salinger is nightmarish. Being an introvert and famous? He spent his whole life trying to avoid the media vultures. It’s even worse these days. I would prefer moderate sales and no fame.

      I won’t pay anything for promotion, and have done little to none. I also haven’t published anything new in over a year, yet I’m seeing a small flurry of sales in the last couple of months. *Very* small, but anything more than zero is encouraging. I may blog about it now that you’ve dredged up the topic from the morgue files.

      1. Glad I’m good for suggesting blog topics.

        After what the media have done to Laura Hillenbrand – completely misinterpreting her in headlines, for example – I hope to avoid even the appearance of notoriety. I wouldn’t take the chance my heroine takes – even if it gave me an opportunity to advocate. Sales would be nice, though.

        I’m about to run another Kindle Countdown – see if that brings anything more than last time (zero, I’m pretty sure).

        Identifying your genre is the problem, but I think Contemporary Fiction works for me, as long as it isn’t misinterpreted as Contemporary Romance (which is still bound by the Romance genre conventions).

        1. I had to look up Laura Hillenbrand. I hadn’t read either of her books, so the name didn’t click. Read part of the NYT article and copied it to read the rest later. I don’t remember what the controversy was about, though I vaguely remember there was one.

          Yes, genre is a problem. I never could find a good one for my first two novels. I’ll probably never join Select because I’ve had decent sales (when the books were still selling) on Smashwords.

          1. If you like non-fiction, Seabiscuit is an amazing – and amazingly-researched story – and it took her a long time, very slowly, to write it.

            I haven’t read Unbroken, but both were made into movies – she couldn’t even go to the premieres.

            1. I’m so far behind in my reading that the only nonfiction I have time for is research. I’d like to read Unbroken someday. If I live long enough to get caught up.

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