By Kathryn Dionne
In days past, writers wrote. When they had a finished product, they searched out agents and publishing houses that would take their “baby” off their hands, nurture it to its full potential, and give it legs long enough to cover the globe. If the writer was fortunate enough to find such a person who believed in their talent, shared their enthusiasm, and was willing to promote them, then the writer became free to focus solely on doing what she does best; write!
Oh, how times have changed!
A new breed of writer has emerged on to the scene, creating a worldwide industry; The Indie writer. These independent authors who have chosen to forego the daunting task of finding an agent and going it alone are discovering that it’s not enough to simply write a great book. They have to know how to market it. They have to get their book into the hands of the public and make them want to read it.
But how do we do that?
As an indie author myself, I have learned to follow the 90/10 rule; 10 percent writing, but 90 percent marketing. I’m not trying to make an assumption, but I’ve discovered that most people either have a knack for writing or a knack for marketing. Rarely do they possess both. But if you’re going to be an Indie author you have to be great at both. When I first published The Eleventh Hour trilogy, it was difficult for me to praise my own books because I thought it made me sound too egotistical. So I didn’t market them or tell people about them. I just left their fate to chance. Then one day a friend said to me, “You must not like your books very much.”
His statement took me by surprise. Why would he think that? He knew how hard I worked to develop the story and the characters. He was privy to the hours and hours and hours of the endless research I did to make the story real and believable. So how could he say that? I became indignant and said, “I love my books. They tell a great story. And I am very proud of them!”
“Then tell people about them,” he said to me. “Don’t cheat them out of an opportunity to feel the same way about them that you do.”
Wow, I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. But he was right. If I didn’t make the effort to promote them, then why should anyone make the effort to read them?
So what could I do in order to market my books effectively? I needed to:
1. Change my mindset. I needed to treat my writing as if it were a business rather than a hobby. This started my mind thinking in a different direction. Once I accepted that my marketing efforts were an integral part of my writing process, I began to allocate a certain amount of time every day to each part of the process. I found that I liked to do part of my marketing in the morning before I started to write and then a little more in the evening before I went to bed. I learned to apply the 90/10 rule in a way that was comfortable for me and befitting my lifestyle so as to ensure its longevity. If it worked for me, then I’d be able to work it.
2. Make my books easy to find. Thanks to the Internet and places like Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and a whole host of other websites dedicated to providing a platform for authors and their books, I had an unlimited audience. But those people couldn’t buy my books if they didn’t know about them. So I put them everywhere I could. Redundancy turned out to be key in getting my books noticed. I had some books printed solely for the purpose of giving them away. I donated them to my local libraries, senior and rec centers, and anywhere else where people gathered. It turns out people love supporting their local authors.
3. Make my efforts fun. I knew that if I didn’t make these marketing efforts enjoyable, then the chances of me continuing them would be nil. One of the most fun and rewarding ways of getting my books recognized has been by doing blog tours. This has allowed me to virtually travel the globe, stopping at websites around the world to do interviews, guest posts, pod casts and radio shows without ever leaving my office. In putting together this tour, I discovered so many amazing sites that catered to indie authors by giving them a place to showcase their works. Most of the sites, like Lambert Nagle, are run by authors themselves who have graciously opened up their website in an effort to help promote fellow writers. Doing a blog tour not only allowed me to tap in to their followers, but it gave me the opportunity to share my viewership with them. Authors helping authors!
We writers are part of one big family that stretches across the globe. The written word is in our blood, and the need to tell a story is in our hearts. But unless we learn the language of marketing, our voices will remain silent and our stories untold. Don’t let your works die out before they’ve even had a chance to live!