in Book Marketing

The Indie-Author Marketing Pie: Bite-Sized Tips for Your Book’s Success

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“You mean I have to try to get on radio stations nationwide, and have a crazy-active Twitter account, and have a blog, and also do a blog tour, and have book signings, and worry about getting my book in bookstores, and have book reviews, and write a newsletter, and have a book trailer, and do speaking engagements, and what about a book launch? And sell it to my friends and have them do book clubs, and Facebook, and submit my books for awards, and how do I get readers? This is all so overwhelming!”

We agree. It’s a big bite. When you’re an indie author and you try to swallow the whole big marketing pie, of course you’re not going to be able to distinguish one idea from the other, and of course you’re not going to know where to start. It’s enough to make even the sanest authors want to take a big ol’ nap.

The truth is that it’s a matter of mindset. Here are a few ideas and tips to breaking marketing into many digestible bites.

1. You are only one person.

Let me repeat: You are only one person. That means that, at any given moment, you can only do what one person can do! Be liberated by this fact, because it means that you don’t have to immediately worry about every little thing you “have” to do to sell your book. Ask yourself: What can I do right now, at this moment, that will help my book sell? The task: Choose one or two new tasks to do every day to help your book sell. Tuesday you might research and reach out to bloggers for whom you can do guest blogs or set up a blog tour. Wednesday you might walk in to all the independent bookstores in your area, book in hand. Thursday you might research and reach out to established groups to set up potential speaking engagements. Think bite-size marketing strategy.

2. Act like you belong.

All good publicists excel at “faking it” to get what they need. I have an indie author who recently described how she managed to get on local radio shows across the country: she did her research, and acted like she belonged. She first Googled radio personalities’ shows, and figured out the producers’ names and numbers. Then she called them. When they picked up, she talked fast and acted like her call was expected by someone. She said, “I was told to call Sally Jacobs about guests in the topics of parenting and parenthood. I’m an author and expert on parenting in the modern-day big city, and I have some easy tips for new parents on how to bring kids up with the wholesome, ice-cream-truck and white-picket fence mentality in a big-city setting. Can I get on today? No? Okay, I’ll call back tomorrow.” Eventually, they always let her on, because she acted like she belonged and she wasn’t discouraged by an initial “no.”

3. Have thick skin!

When you hear “no,” don’t waste time dwelling; ask for the next opportunity. Get everything you can out of every connection by looking for what you can give. If a bookstore turns down an event this month, be prepared with another idea that focuses on what you can do for the naysayer. For example, “I see that you don’t like the idea of using my parenting book for a Mother’s Day event. However, my book is fantastic for back-to-school time. I can put together a panel of some children’s-book authors and some teachers to talk about preparing kids for going back to school in the big city. I can guarantee that each panelist will bring plenty of attendees. What weekend in August or September is open at your store? ”

4. The Internet is your best friend.

When in doubt, when you don’t know what comes next, when you’re about to go take that big ol’ nap, jump on the web. Google your book’s topic. Read blogs. Comment on blogs. Play on Twitter, find new people to follow and post new tidbits. Make lists of new sites and blogs you find, and connect with them. The Internet is near limitless with new places for your book to go—you’ll never find everything there is to find, so it’s a good place to go when you’ve hit a roadblock. It’s also great for generating new ideas!

5. Realize that everything takes time.

Almost no one can get a blog rolling with 100,000 followers in the first week. Twitter? It’s going to take a long time to get to 20,000 Tweets. Resign yourself to putting in the time and energy that these things deserve, and realize that it’s going to pay off in due time.



Indie authors: How did you overcome your fear and sense of being overwhelmed in book marketing? Do you have marketing tips that have helped? Send a note our way! We’d love to hear from you!

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  1. All good tips, thanks. They prove that you do not have to be one of the “big guys” to get on Good Morning America anymore. OK, thanks and good luck. Edward Smith.

    • Thanks Edward! We think it’s the most exciting time ever to be in publishing, for that very reason. There are so many ways to be successful without a big publisher nowadays–the whole world is localized!

      You’ve got a great site–thanks for the follow!

  2. Thick skin is so important! People with thin skin tend to not believe in theirself. The thicker the skin the stronger the confidence, the higher the chance of success.

    • SO true, Haylee. Thick skin is what helps authors persevere! Without it, it’s so easy to give up, and when you give up, you don’t get to find out what amazing opportunities come next!

  3. This is a terrific post on how to make what looks huge, scary and UNmanageable into something that is actually DOable. I know my husband and I often feel overwhelmed, trying to figure out what’s most important to do for our books at any given time. I can imagine what it’s like for single authors!

    I think your tip about growing some “thick skin” is one of the most valuable, honestly. It’s hard to take a “no” when getting a “yes” is so critical. I keep telling myself that there’s a world full of “no” out there — but it’s not impossible to find reasons to get someone to a “yes!”

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