One of the reasons I got into independent publishing is because traditional publishers are offering less and less author support. Marketing budgets have shrunk as consumers favor the digital space over print advertising. Authors are expected to create their own marketing “platform” via digital media, including a website and social media targeted to their specific readership.
This is fine, and it suits the modern marketplace. But it’s on you as an author to spend the time and resources on a marketing campaign. A publisher might help you get on a panel to discuss a relevant topic, or help you get into bookstores, but the reach of your book is up to you.
This limited effort along with an uncertain acceptance and long timeline for production make independent publishing the right choice for many writers.
So, how do we “indie” authors market our work?
There are excellent resources which help with book promotion. Most come with a fee.
First up, securing a review. This is important if you want your book to be on a shelf at Barnes and Noble or Politics and Prose here in Washington, DC., and others. Most bookstores do not accept books without a positive review. You can’t guarantee a review will be positive, of course, but it might be worth the fee to try for this ticket to bookstores and online sales.
So, which indie reviews should you go for? Publisher’s Weekly has an excellent overview. I’d start with Kirkus Indie Review, at $425. Kirkus is well established and highly regarded. The turn-around time is seven to nine weeks. If you don’t like the review, you can choose not to have it published. If you like it, Kirkus will distribute the review to partner sites including Google and BN.com. You can also post the review on your website, and on Amazon or wherever you are selling your book.
Another good option to market your book if you have also published it as an ebook is BookBub, a respected site. The potential here is significant. According to its website, “BookBub has over 10 million members… voracious power readers who consistently turn to BookBub to find their next great book.” Unfortunately, Bookbub accepts only 5% of titles submitted to them, and it costs a minimum of $550 to get into their promotion program once selected. That said, it is a major player, with an enormous, specially curated email subscriber list.
Trade journals will also charge for reviews. Beyond reviews, check out book award programs such as the IPPYs, the Moonbeam Awards, and ForeWord’s INDIEFAB.
Take a look at the website Indies Unlimited to see which marketing strategy is worth your investment.
And remember, your own network of family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances is the best place to begin your marketing efforts. These are your people. They want you to succeed! Ask all of them to post a review on Amazon, and to talk about your book on their social media sites. Linked In is a great site for professional networking, and Facebook and Instagram work well for social branding and broadcasting. Have fun with this! If you do, your friends and family will catch your enthusiasm and hop on your marketing train.
Next up, how to apply for your book’s inclusion in the Library of Congress.