Now, the first topic I'd like to address is the issue of promoting yourself. You see, it's not enough to write a fantastic book and publish it; unfortunately, your work is just beginning. Your book could be the greatest book ever written, but if you don't promote yourself, few people are likely to find it. So, how do you promote yourself? That's a hard question to answer to be perfectly honest. I'm still feeling my way around in this aspect, but I've started off pretty well.
One last thing before we get started. I self-publish but even if you sign on with an indie publisher, you'll probably have to do some promoting on your own. These all still apply :)
Step 1: Be realistic in your expectations
The first and most important piece of advice I can give you is to be realistic in your expectations with regards to your sales. Even authors signed on with one of the Big 6 authors take several books before they truly start achieving success. I know you want to release your book and instantly have it be a sensation and make tons of money, but the reality is it's extremely unlikely to happen. The best thing to do is have a great idea that brings people back for more. Keep writing and hopefully every book will be a bit more successful than the first.
Don't be discouraged if you don't sell many books right off the bat. You should be writing because you love to write and have a story to tell. If you're in this for the money, you really need to sit down and think about whether this is what you truly want to do.
Step 2: Throw yourself to the social networking wolvesI've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm a very shy person in real life. I'm introverted and would much prefer sitting at home curled up with a good book rather than going out to parties and being social. I never ever thought I'd enjoy the world of social networking as much as I have, but it has been a wonderful experience. I've met so many wonderful people that have helped me tremendously and interacting online takes a lot of the scariness of meeting new people. Nobody can see you directly so it makes it much easier to relax and be yourself.
Facebook and Twitter are two extremely valuable tools to keep you in touch with your readers and connect yourself to other authors. Make as many author friends as you can so you can learn as much as you can. I thought Breaking the Nexus was the best thing ever written, until I had some authors read it and pointed out areas that really needed work. No matter how amazing your book is, there's always room for improvement.
I recommend establishing yourself well in advance of your book's release so you have the best release day possible. If you've already released your books, that's awesome and you can still establish yourself. The most important thing to remember is don't start by bombarding people with your book. You wouldn't want to meet someone and immediately have them trying to sell you something, so don't make online friends and immediately start with "OMG I have this book and you totally need to go buy it because it's awesome." There are times when the first contact I receive from someone on Facebook or Twitter is a link to buy their book and I'll be honest, it annoys me.
I'm not saying, don't tell everyone about your awesome book, but really try to make friends. Talk about the everyday things and share snippets to increase interest. The more people enjoy conversing with you, the better your chances are of persuading them to want to read your work.
Step 3: Have a blog and/or website
Blogs are great for several reasons. I started doing author interviews on my blogs and it introduced me to tons of fellow authors of all different genres. I've made some great friends this way and best of all, it has been a huge help in networking. Just because I write paranormal/fantasy romance doesn't mean I should focus on authors of those genres. People have diverse tastes and opinions and you can learn so much from so many people.
A blog is also great for enticing your readers. Post snippets, character interviews, character sketches, etc to keep your interest alive. The more anticipation you can build, the better. It helps readers find out more about you because I know if I read an author I like, the first thing I do is look for a blog or website.
One other benefit to blogging is participating in Blog Hops. These are when a bunch of bloggers sign up for a themed hop and people jump around to the different blogs. Typically you have a giveaway to entice people to visit your blog and it helps you get greater visibility. Carrie Ann Ryan holds fantastic blog hops with some pretty awesome grand prizes that have been amazing for bringing traffic to my blog. I highly recommend looking into participating in one of her hops by clicking here.
Not into blogging? Then at the very least have a website to make it easier for your fans to find out about you. If I look up an author and can't find a website or blog, I'm far more likely to forget about them because I don't want to go hunting down the information or their other books.
Step 4: Hold giveaways and promotional events
Everybody loves free stuff. It doesn't matter if it's a bookmark, an ebook, a gift card, or a rubber ducky. Giveaways are a great way to bring people to your events or blogs for the chance to win a prize. If you can't afford a bunch of prizes (and believe me, it does add up quickly), have a big prize and hold games and such for entries to win that bigger prize. I met many of my lovelies through my cover reveal and blog tour giveaways. They came for the prizes but stayed because they had a blast. You don't need to spend a fortune, just get creative. You can also ask fellow authors for donations of swag or ebooks because it gives them a great chance for cross promotion.
Step 5: Be willing to give away copies of your book for review
I can't tell you how many copies of Breaking the Nexus I've given away but it's a ton. I'm striving for 50 reviews on Amazon and have given away a good portion of that as review copies. I've also emailed about 20-30 review blogs asking for review (though I've only heard back from a handful of them). No, you don't make any money on those review copies out right, but it introduces people to your work and the reviews will bring others. There are also a number of amazing people who will buy the book after they've read it because they loved it so much and want to support you.
Breaking the Nexus is the first in a trilogy so my goal has been to get as many people addicted to my trilogy as possible so that they'll be more likely to buy book 2, Waking the Phoenix, when it comes out. I'm not making much money on all those review copies now but if it translates to future sales, it's more than worth it.
One last point on reviews. I'm told Amazon.com will work harder to promote your books once you get to 50 reviews. I've also watched as my ranking jumps after a review goes live, even if I didn't sell a book. Reviews are critical so don't be stingy with those copies!
Step 6: Be patient and willing to experiment
I said at the start of this post that I'm no expert. I'm still working out the exact methods that work for me and my book and there's still a ton that you'll need to do. Promoting your book will require lots of time, effort and research on your part, but it's essential for you to be successful as a writer. You won't become famous overnight so be patient. It's hard, I know, but the pay off is worth it.
Ok my lovelies, I hope this has helped a bit. Please let me know what other topics you'd like me to discuss! My next post will be on the merits of getting an editor!