One of the most difficult parts about becoming an author has been learning to promote myself. I’ve had to navigate building a website – something it’s taken me a year to feel like I’ve gotten good at doing. I’ve had to dive into the world of marketing, finding what works and what doesn’t, and learning the ropes as I go.
Remember when we thought getting published (or figuring out how to self-publish) was the hard part? That’s because no one warned us about all the *work* involved in being an author!
Whether you’ve just begun, or you’ve been in the trenches for a while now, I want to help. I’m by no means an expert (learning as I go, remember?), but I love design, and I’m having fun on this journey, and I want you to have fun too!
Ten Ways to Stay Sane When Marketing Yourself
1. Don’t worry if you fail. Seriously! You create an ad, share it, and there’s not much response … oh well. First way to keep your wits about you and not tumble down a rabbit hole of despair, is to not let it be a huge deal. You’ll make some designs that are awesome. You’ll make some that you look back on with disgust. It’s all good. You’re learning, right?
2. Outsource. I off set some of my marketing, to get it it out of my hands, and to have it be seen by more people. Examples: blog tours. For each of my book releases I’ve invested in a blog tour, letting someone else create a banner, spread the word, and book a dozen book reviews on blogs for me. (Not in the budget? Ask book bloggers if they’re interested, and you’ll find some who are more than happy to read/review your book).
3. Keep on brand. Again I say: seriously! This has been my biggest struggle. I want to change my branding every few months, updating colors and designs and keeping things fresh. No. Stop it. Pick your brand (not sure how? email me: firstname.lastname@example.org) and stick to it. Keep all your posts, headers, ads, and everything you do ON BRAND. This means people will start to recognize you on site and not wonder who you are.
4. Recycle your work. You’ve made an awesome post for Instagram? Sweet. Post it, alter a few colors and fonts or images, then save it for a rainy day. You’ve got a killer book release ad? Awesome. Keep it, put it on all your social media, AND share it in your newsletter. You don’t have to start from scratch every time.
5. Ask a friend. I’m lucky enough to have a best friend with a degree in marketing. I try not to take advantage of her expertise – since I’m not paying her to work for me – and not ask for her help too often. But you better believe I run some ideas by her. Especially the big ones, like my book covers and my website. Even if your friends have no experience, they have eyes and opinions, and it can be a good idea to see what they think.
6. Take a break. If you’re working too hard (eyes blurring, head aching, mind boggling), it’s time to be done for the day. Or at least for an hour. Take a walk. Eat a snack. Work on your book (ha, you know you’re procrastinating by working on marketing instead). Come back to it when you’re feeling fresh.
7. Find your niche. I started out using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram equally. I shared variations (not the same designs/posts across all three) every day. I spend time scrolling, liking, sharing, responding each day. A year later, I realized my largest and most engaged following was on Instagram. By far. Now, I concentrate my efforts there, giving FB and Twitter a little less attention.
8. Don’t repeat your mistakes. Seems obvious, right? You’d think. I’ve run a Facebook ad every few months, even though I know it has *never* worked. Not once has it gotten me more followers or more book sales. Waste of money. I vow to never do it again! (If they work for you, let me know your secret!)
9. Plan ahead. Make a dozen designs from the blueprints of one, save them all, and voila you have something to post for the next dozen days. Facebook lets you schedule posts, which is super handy – I do this especially when we’re traveling and I know I won’t have time to spend working. The only time this doesn’t work is for Instagram Stories, which need to be from the last 24 hours. But snap a photo of wherever you are, keep it raw and real, add a hashtag, and you’re good to go.
10. Be engaged. This is your job, and it deserves your attention. Ask questions, and you’ll get responses. Then you can reply to these, creating a connection with your followers. My favorite accounts to follow are #bookstagramers, so I’ve become one myself (posting pretty photos of books). I’ve joined #followloops to connect with romance readers, romance writers, etc.
Bonus: It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Pick ONE thing to do each day. If design isn’t your strong suit, take a photo to share. Have good handwriting? Write out info, video it, and post that. (Especially fun to see in time-lapse). Good at cake decorating? Make themed cupcakes, share photos, and the recipe. You be you, and you’ll find your people.