Regardless whether you plan on going with traditional publishing or self-publishing, there’s still one thing for certain: Your success as an author hinges on self-promotion. And I know that stinks because many of us wanted traditional because we thought it included paid marketing assistance.
Fortunately, the writing community is full of people that are very open with their publishing process, and they share their experiences with others. We’ll talk about some key tips to keep in mind when self-marketing yourself as an author—whether you go traditional or indie.
Start Right Now
Many writers wonder when the self-promotion timeline should start. The real answer is it’s never too early to establish yourself as a writer. You don’t need a published manuscript to be “ready” to market yourself. You just need a publishing goal to market yourself. Even if you don’t have a book ready to sell, you can provide short blurbs about your books. People can get an idea of what you’re already working on, and you can update them on your progress.
What are the tools you need for self-promotion? The most basic ingredient is an author website. You can create one for free right after you read this post and then use it as your central hub. If anyone wants to get to know you or buy your future novels, they can go there for answers to their questions.
Your website should also include links to your social media and a clear, easy-to-find opportunity to subscribe. Maybe you need a year to publish your novel—you can still gather future fans and readers by giving them a handful of options on how to stay updated on your progress. Some examples are email subscriptions, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Youtube.
The above information is obviously helpful for self-publishing. But how does an author website help traditionally published authors? Overall, a website shows initiative to future literary agents and publishing companies. If you already show a decent grasp of how to self-promote books, that shows them that you’re easy to work with and that potential readers already like you and your work.
Meet the Writing Community
You can go about the writing process alone if that works for you. But it’s easy to wade into the collective hot tub of the writing community and to rub shoulders with your target audience and peers.
It took me roughly three years to get cozy with the community. I wasn’t sure where to look or how to start. I was only participating by dropping links to my personal blog without getting to know other writers. So, I wanted all the benefits of a community without doing the work.
Luckily, you can find writers on every social media platform, and you’ll find writers of all ages and all nationalities. Within the writing community, you can learn about self-promotion, share your work, and find support when the writing process gets frustrating.
To find the writing community, start on a social media platform you already like and understand. For example, my favorite is Instagram. Then, type in writing related hashtag or search terms. One of the most common hashtags is #amwriting. Next, peruse people’s content and pick out a handful of people you genuinely like and want to follow. Bonus points if they have a branded social media front that you can emulate.
Say you find five writers and they enjoy writing the same stuff as you. Begin commenting on their photos, tweets, blog posts, and more. The key is being genuine: Give sincere compliments and ask questions about their work or thoughts they’re sharing. After you sincerely reach out, they’ll likely return the favor, and you’ll get more feedback and support for your work.
Bask in the Glory of Book Reviewing
As an author, I know the best feeling in the world is to read reviews or posts praising my work. Well, I haven’t published anything yet, but I know that’s what I strive for.
One of the top ways that new authors get their books into our hands is by enlisting beta readers or ARC readers. They read the book before anyone else and offer feedback. Beta readers get a free copy in exchange for a free, honest review. If the author can get hundreds of positive reviews, then their novels become suggestions on Goodreads and Amazon, and thus more people learn about the novel.
Book reviewing can be great if you want to promote your book or if you want to make friends in the writing community. My author website has a whole tab where I review Indie novels. I use reviews to learn more about the publishing industry, but I also get to read some amazing novels.
To get people talking about your novel before it’s published, ask your followers to read and review it. Everyone loves a free book, right? Participating in book reviewing helps any writer in the following ways:
- Make other writing friends.
- Know how to find ARC readers when it’s your turn to publish.
- Have content to publish and promote on your website.
- See what types of stories are popular in your genre.
- Add to your never-ending TBR list.
- Learn about another author’s publishing approach to fine-tune yours.
Remember, if you go the traditional route, you’ll still need book reviews to garner more attention on your books. Your publishing house will likely help you set up blog tours so book bloggers can review your work on or around your publish date, but keep in mind that finding your own reviewers can only help you further. And you’ll find them through self-promotion.
Take Advantage of Free Resources & Real Experiences
I regularly promote my work even though I haven’t published anything. However, I feel more prepared for the publishing process because of what my friends in the writing community have shared. Many even shared their work for free. How sensible and Hufflepuff is that?
If you’re still unsure whether traditional or self-publishing is for you, it’s better to read what people say about their own experiences, rather than to read generalized content from people who have never tried to publish their work. Self-publishing still gets a lot of flack, but there is so much good self-published content, so don’t always believe everything you see online.
Here are some of my go-to resources that will help you if you have more specific questions about your publishing journey:
The 2017 Revealed Methods of Successful Independent Authors via BookBaby: This is a survey conducted to give you real-time insight on what successful indie authors are doing now to promote their books. All the information is divided into two categories, based on if the writer made more or less than $5,000 in sales.
Well-Storied run by Kristen Kieffer: She has a wealth of knowledge and has recently published a series about the pros and cons of various types of publishing. She is also a dear friend of mine and one of the first people I met in the writing community.
The Write Now Podcast by Sarah Werner: Yet another fantastic contributor to the writing community. She interviews other writers on her podcast to learn more about their author journeys and provides professional insight of her own.
Paper Fury by Cait: She’s one of the most personable writers and book bloggers I’ve ever had the pleasure of following. If you want an idea of how to put your personality into your self-marketing, she’s an explosive and charming example of how to do so.
Wit & Travesty by yours truly! Did you think I’d share self-promotion insights and not put in a plug for my own website? Snoop around, take notes on what you like and don’t like, and follow me on social media! I would be delighted to welcome you to the community.
Hopefully these tips help you feel more confident about promoting yourself and your novels. What would you like to learn about self-promo or the writing community? Share with us below in the comments or on social media!