Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Do I Need to Promote my Book Before Its Release Date? Absolutely!

Gone are the days when publishers took their slab of an author's royalties in return for handling all the publicity and marketing - and providing good editors - while we writers got on with the job of writing. Now, it seems, everything's changed. Publishers still take their 'slice of the cake' but with fewer returns. As authors, we are expected to do much of our own promotional work, which includes creating our own brand and then shamelessly plugging it!

Recently, I entered an international writing competition run by a UK publisher. After I had submitted my personal details - author bio, synopsis and complete manuscript - I had to include my social media presence. Was I on Facebook and Twitter? Did I have an updated blog or website? Was I prepared to 'contribute' to my own publicity and marketing?
Hello! Isn't that what my royalties are supposed to be paying the publisher to do?!
In some respects I'm glad I didn't win (I came 7th) as it meant most of my royalties would go anywhere else but to me and for very little in return. 
The case for 'going it indie' never seemed more plausible.

So, here I am, a soon-to-be-indie-author doing the work of a publisher and 'shamelessly plugging' my soon-to-be-released debut novel, Bloodgifted.
And since I must do everything myself, I decided to research the best way to go about it, and this is what I discovered.

 1.  Do a Cover Reveal
Even before your manuscript is completed, hire a good graphics designer (believe me, it's worth it) to create a unique cover for your book. Not only will it be exclusive to you, but it will become your brand and readers will recognise you by it. E.g. Eragon, Fifty Shades of Grey, Coke... etc.

2.  Use Your Book Cover as a Promotional Tool
After all, it's your brand - use it! Publishers do. They coin a catchy phrase or place a particularly memorable line from a book they're promoting and place it on on the cover, then release it on facebook, twitter, pinterest as well on their and their author's website. And, it's amazing how it attracts reader interest - visual cues always work!
Now, if publishers can do it, so can we, as we have all the tools readily available on our PCs. All you need is Powerpoint. Copy and paste your book cover onto Powerpoint, play around with fonts and colours then save it as a jpeg file on documents.

Here's mine -

Does it work? Would a reader be attracted into buying it?

3.  Employ Friends and Family to Share it on their Facebook Pages, Tweet About it and Add it to their Blogs in the lead up to your book's eventual release. And, don't be content with only one cover promo, do several and release them a month at a time. That way you'll be building up interest without being labelled a spammer!

3.  Try to Arrange an Author Interview on Goodreads and Get Involved in the Discussion Groups
Goodreads is one of the best sites where readers discover new authors and their books. The discussion groups, in particular, connect authors with readers and help build up a loyal fan following. It lets authors create their own page, and this is where readers can find out more about you and even leave comments. A positive review on Goodreads is probably more effective a media press release.

4. Once Your Book is Released, Ask Readers What Particular Lines from the Book They'd Like to See on the Cover. 
Run a competition, with the eventual winner having their entry displayed on your website. By doing this, you're involving your readers in the promotional process and what better way to gain and keep loyal followers?

So, as you can see, we writers must be our own publicity machine, and if we do it all, why should we share the royalties? Yes, it's a lot of work and sometimes it would be lovely to have someone else do it all for us, but unfortunately those days are gone.

I'd love to know if others have had success promoting their books in this way, or in other ways. Which is preferable, let the publisher do it and then let them take up to 55% of the royalties (if they're a digital publisher; 95% if they're paperback only), or go indie?

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