Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Marketing Is Number One

I used to publish stories and poetry and random things about my trek to self-publish my first novel, The Sacrifist. Along the way I have learned and accumulated a lot of knowledge about the self-publishing process. So I decided I would change the direction of this blog to help others.

From now forward I will be offering free advice and resources on becoming an Independent Author and self-publishing your own work. There is a tremendous amount of free or cheap information about the self-publishing industry and how to do it.

However, there are companies (and individuals) who seek to take financial advantage of would-be authors and "help" them with the publishing process. Stay away from these scams. My friend Dave Bricker has an excellent article called Self-Publishing Scams: Keep the "Self" in Self-Publishing warning new and even old authors about these companies and/or individuals. Please check it out and gird yourself so that you don't end up doing something you will regret later.

The orientation of this blog will be three-fold:

1) Marketing Yourself and Your Book

2) Writing a Great Book

3) The Self-Publishing Process

I have put the above in what I feel is the order of importance. Most people who advise on self-publishing put #2 as the first order of importance and don't get me wrong it IS important. But a literary masterpiece that never gets enough readers fails as a book product. Most authors want to have their books read by other people.

Here is the problem with putting "writing a great book" ahead of "marketing yourself and your book." Most writers are not marketing people. In fact, writers generally are introverts, introspective thinkers, and imaginists (this last word is mine and means 'a person with a great imagination'). Few writers are out-going people who have no back-off on putting themselves out there and talking to strangers.

Because of this, when writers see an authority on self-publishing giving advice on self-publishing and the person giving the advice says, "The most important thing that you can do as an Independent Author is to write a great book," writers use it as an excuse to spend most of their time writing which, of course, is the most comfortable thing for them to do.

I have met many writers who spend a lot of time writing but never put anything out for people to read. They are constantly working on 'getting their book just right.' They don't say that, but that is what they are doing. Sometimes I wonder if they are scared to put it out because they know then they will have to market their book. I think they are even more afraid of marketing than they are of getting panned by critics or readers.  

Let's face it. Marketing makes most authors feel uncomfortable. This is how they fall for the scams Dave Bricker writes about in the above linked article. And scam artists play on the one thing that most writers hate doing--marketing. This is another reason why writers try to seek out a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers (writer's think) will do the marketing for them. No, they won't. Not unless you have a big name like Stephen King or Dan Brown or James Patterson.

For these reasons, I put marketing as number one. Numero Uno. Target #1. YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR ATTENTION ON IT. NOW.

Yes, now. You can start your marketing even before you start writing your book. What?! That's right. Start now. Go ahead start. Create yourself an Author page on Facebook. Get your friends to start liking it. And then start sharing your self-publishing adventure with your friends and others who find you. That is what I did at T. Mason Gilbert. Click my author name and you will get some idea how to involve your audience. (Like the page while you are there!)

And I have only scratched the surface. You can hold contests and do many other marketing actions. One of the things I do is I involve my audience in my "Ten Random Sentences Series" where I write a short story based on ten random sentences submitted by my readers.


To that end, I'm going to recommend two self-publishing marketing books. I own both of them. The first one is by Mark Coker owner of Smashwords (which I will write about in a future article) has a lot of resources for Independent Authors. Mark's marketing book is free. Here is the link to it: Smashwords Book Marketing Guide Go pick it up. IT'S FREE. And start marketing.

The second book is by Joanna Penn. (Her blog is also an awesome resource.) Joanna is one of the most successful self-publishers around today. Her book entitled "How to Market a Book" is a comprehensive and up-to-date book on how to market your self-published (or even traditionally published) book. There is a link to Joanna's book in the top right corner of this page.

So marketing is #1. Get started on it and come back here bi-weekly for more information to guide you through the process of making your dreams come true. Next time I will write about something that is controversial. Writing Groups. I'm against them. Find out why.

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