My (limited) view on promoting books

Dear Indie writer. Yes, I am specifically looking at Indie writers now, although of course everyone is welcome to read this article.

I do not claim to be a professional in marketing and promoting books. In fact, I don’t do a lot of that. For that reason, this post is not meant to be a lesson in promoting, marketing and all that, as there are many posts, articles, guides and how-to’s available online already. The fun thing is that often these writings, though well-meant, have contradicting contents at times.

I would simply like to point out how I think that Indie authors should not promote their books.

1. Don’t use Twitter/Facebook/Google+/other social media as an automated machine-gun to fire off the same text every so often.

Why not? Most people know how to use a search engine or search option. When I search for an author or a kind of book and I see the exact same tweet/post appear 25 times on the first page of hits, that strikes me as overdoing it. Instead of spending time to flood the internet with the same thing over and over again, post teasers of the book. Lure people in. Show them in more ways than one that this book is what they want to read. Tweet/FB/G+ your book a few times, but please don’t make yourself ‘sound’ like a broken copying-machine.

2. Do not approach fellow Indie authors in order to sell your book to them, especially the writers/authors that you interact with a lot (facebook groups, forums, Google+ communities etc.)

Why not? These people already know you. You probably talk to them about your books, your writing, your style and what not. If they don’t know you, then you either do something wrong, or they are the wrong crowd. (Perhaps they only want you to buy their books?) If you need to shove your book into people’s virtual faces, then you have probably failed to use the forum the wrong way. Instead, talk about the progress of your work, and when it’s out just say “whew, it’s published”. When someone’s interested in it, they’ll find it.

3. Don’t talk down the quality of another writer’s book to make your own look better.

Why not? If you have to tell people about it, then your own book is clearly not good enough. Put more work into it, find a reliable and honest editor, get some more honest beta-readers. Make it good. And respect the hard work of fellow authors,  they are in this game as well as they can. Like you.

4. Don’t keep pounding the drum on this one marvellous book you wrote.

Why not? People will eventually get tired of that. Oh, that book again? Got it, enjoyed it, enjoyed a dozen others since then. Instead, write more and better. Word of mouth is the best way to promote your books, and the more books you have written, the more words there will be in mouths. No other way of advertising will be better than this one.

And if you made it this far, please understand that these are my views. You can agree, you can disagree. It’s up to you. And yes, feel free to tell me that I need to buy your book. Although you may be able to guess what will happen to that comment, after reading this piece.

3 thoughts on “My (limited) view on promoting books”

  1. That is a good one Paul! I liked this the best: “Instead of spending time to flood the internet with the same thing over and over again, post teasers of the book.” I advice every indie writer to do that!

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for breaking it down! I think the basic point we’re trying to make is “don’t be a braggart” and “play nice”. I’d like to think it wasn’t so hard…

    Oh and Paul, you should totally buy my book 🙂

  3. Marketing is an odd beast but online marketing is an even odder one I’ve found because it flies in the face of many of the accepted ‘rules’ of marketing. Basically selling doesn’t work. People like to stumble across stuff and go, “Oooh, that looks interesting. I’ll have me some of that.” And we don’t mind if someone says to us, “Look what I discovered. You should have yourself some of that.” But if an author says, “Hey I’ve written a great book. You should have yourself some of that,” the hands fly up in the air. It’s a trust issue. And marketers in the real world have done a great job at getting us to distrust just about everything. As soon as the concept of hype was invented the rot set in because nothing ever lives up to its hype.

    I hate blogs where all the author talks about is their book. Especially the ones where they only have the one book. They may not be saying, “Buy my book,” at least not in so many words, but that is what they’re saying and let’s say you do buy their book, what reason do you have to ever visit their blog again? Mostly indie writers market to the wrong people. We do the rounds of all the other indie writers asking them to plug our book which we all try and do a bit of—solidarity and all that—but who is reading their blogs? Just a handful of other indie authors all of whom have too much on their plate and are x months away from total burnout. I also hate the assumption that because you’re an indie author you only read books by other indie authors. I rarely do because very few indie authors write the kind of books I like to read. Those few I have I’d written about and enthused over but there haven’t been many.

    For most of us the best thing we can do is market ourselves and then when a book does come along people who like the cut of our jib will say, “Well he’s a decent bloke. I’ll have me some of that,” and a few—emphasis on a few—will put their hands in their pockets and buy your book but after a couple of weeks that window of opportunity will start to close because other new and shiny things will have tempted them away. And that is the real problem with marketing online because the onslaught of new things is constant. If it’s not new books to read it’s new films to watch or games to play or music to listen to. Buy me! Watch me! Click on me!

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