If you’re a self-published, freelance, or part-time author, artist, etc. you need to market yourself. I market my own books, and to do that I document my efforts and my findings. It struck me recently that I should share my notes.
I probably should have thought of this earlier – and I probably should do this every now and then – but here you go. It’s how I market. Which seems to sell some books at least.
So here we go!
Have A Website
Have a website, period. A website is a place you can send people to that acts as a “hub” for your marketing efforts. It doesn’t have to be complex (I’ve got some tips below), it has to be a place that acts as a hub for finding out more about you. The goal of a website is to have a one-stop-show for people to come to for information, and leave from to go to your various portfolios, books, social media, etc.
Follow these steps:
- Get a domain name (networksolutions.com, tierra.net are reccomended). Make sure the name is unique, fits you, and can be re-purposed if your plans change (FrankDoesArt.com is a bit specific, but FrankGetsCreative.com is more general).
- Set up a website. Most people I know use www.dreamhost.com or www.wix.com. Just start with one page to make it easy – I’ve seen successful authors whose page is a blurb and a list of books.
- A fast way to do it is buy a domain and redirect it to one of your social media accounts or a portfolio setup (like Twitter or LinkedIn).
- Link to all your books, art, portfolio, and social media from here.
- This website should be mentioned in your books, social media, etc. Link everything back to it as well.
Other things to add:
- A schedule of speaking engagement.
- Reviews of your books.
- Helpful downloads – like character sheets, guides, etc.
Have Appropriate Social Media
Social media is a troublesome subject. Yes, it can let you market – or be annoying. Yes it can let you meet people – or it can waste time. However, done right it’s a great way to connect with people.
Your social media should always link back to your website and in many cases, your other social media. This helps create a “web” of connections so people are able to go to one social media source, find your others, and of course buy your stuff.
My takes on social media in rough order are:
Twitter: Twitter, for it’s many flaws, has a lot of use, its simple, and with lists and filtering (and learning when to ignore it) you can meet authors, promote yourself, and be found. I’d determine what approach you want to use (from marketing to just goofing off) and do it.
LinkedIn: You should have a LinkedIn profile anyway, but how much of your “creative” life you want to share or link to depends on your goals and personal image. I also will say if you use LinkedIn don’t forget all the great posting and stuff you can do there, and the communities.
Instagram and other photo-sharing sites: Some people use this to promote their work, others use it as a sort of photoblog. I’m mixed on it myself.
Facebook: Facebook keeps having issues, but it helps to have a presence. I’d keep an author page on it at the very least and see how you engage.
By the way, a good way to manage social media in one go is www.Hootsuite.com.
Have A Blog
Blogs are ways to post thoughts, essays, and more, turning your web presence into a kind of personal magazine/announcement/discussion board. Most authors use them, though at various rates of usage, from constant posts to “occasional speaking updates”
A blog is usually part of your author website, and thus is another reason to come there – and to go and check out your work and your other media. Most blog setups can act as your author page as well (which is what I do).
I use blogs to:
- Give weekly updates on myself.
- Post various essays and thoughts.
- Review or promote interesting things.
- In a few cases, blog posts then became other books, or I round them up to publish free “compendiums.”
You can set up blogs at the following sites, with various advantages and limits. Some allow you to use your own domain name, some don’t.
A few techniques:
- You can get a domain and just point it at your blog or a similar site (like your Tumblr) and save time.
- Some authors and artists do blog tours where they post across each other’s blogs.
- If you have related social media accounts (LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.) consider posting your blog entries to all of them when appropriate. Just make sure they redirect to your site.
- Set up an RSS feed (or find it’s address in a standard setup) and put a link on your blog. I also recommend www.feedburner.com despite it being sort of static by now.
- Mailchimp.com and some other mail software programs let people subscribe to a blog feed so they get email updates. You can also load those with helpful extras and information.
An important caveat – if you’re a prolific writer, you have to find the blogging/writing balance. It’s not an easy call because a few long blog posts can take as much time to set up as a small fiction piece. In some cases small books may be like blog posts.
Have A Newsletter
A newsletter is the way to engage with readers and keep people informed, as well as give them cool reviews, interesting updates, and more. In some ways it’s like a mailed blog, but I separate them as a newsletter is more focused and like an update, whereas blogs can be more freeform. If you don’t do a blog, do a newsletter, and if you only have time for one do the newsletter.
The ruler of newsletters is www.mailchimp.com, which has an amazing free service and reasonable paid services.
Make sure that your newsletter subscription form(s) are linked to from as much social media as possible and, of course, your website.
Some newsletter tips:
- Don’t overdo it or underdo it – I do it twice a month or so.
- Find a “feel” for your newsletter – a roundup, personal, chatty, serious, etc. Judge what works.
- Include any vital updates about your work. Link to your blog, new books, cool things.
- Give away “Lead Magnets” – basically free stuff like samples, an occasional free book copy, downloadable cool stuff, etc.
- Use it to promote other cool things – help folks out.
- Remember that most newsletter software gives you all sorts of statistics and data – you can use this to improve reaching people!
(AUTHORS) Giveaways And Promotionals
A great way to get people’s attention is to give out stuff like free books, extras, samples, and more. With these properly done (and linked back to other works), its a great way to get attention, meet people, and of course get sales.
There’s two services I reccomend:
Prolificworks.com – having both free and subscription modes, it lets you give away work and join (or create) promotionals. The paid version lets you tie giveaways into your mailing list as well. It does get a bit pricey beyond the Free level ($20 to $50 a month), so I recommend paid tiers for serious authors.
www.bookfunnel.com – Is a cheap ($20 a year to start) way to do book giveaways in a variety of formats, and higher tiers include features like Prolificworks.com. I’m fond of the starter tier as its a great way to make book giveaways easier (and if you don’t want to host your giveaways).
To make these work you have to obviously be dedicated to it and work out strategies. I use them to:
- Give away free stuff and samples to my newsletter subscribers.
- Have promotional giveaways (often samples) that people can sign up to my newsletter to get.
- I join groups on Prolificworks.com to do team giveaways.
- I use both – Instafreebie lets me set up easy giveaways, and Prolificworks gives me all sorts of options.
If you use KDP, there’s a KDP Exclusive you can use for eBooks. In exchange for making your work exclusive with Amazon, you get some tools to set up sales.
(AUTHORS) Consider Series
If you’re doing fiction, you probably already have a series in mind. If your books are non-fiction, you may want to group them into series, because various bookselling sites will remind people that “X book is part of Y” series. It’s near-free advertisement.
Have A Portfolio
If you’re a visual artist of any kind, have a portfolio. Put it on your website, use a social media site like Deviantart.com, whatever. People want to see your work and maybe buy it, so make it easy to do. If you take comissions, it’s pretty much a way to market yourself.
Non-visual artists like authors may want a portfolio as well. This would contain:
- Cover art.
- Sample works.
- Free giveaways.
- Summaries of your work (with links to purchase it). For instance, I have a press website a lot like this.
More To Come
So these are just what I’m doing now (and what I wrote up, I’m sure I forgot a few things). I’m always trying different promotional efforts and other ways to help people find my books