The hardest part of being an indie author is being in charge of my own marketing, mostly because I hate how narcissistic it feels to continually toot my own horn (that’s what she said).
But unless you can afford to pay someone to do your marketing for you (and many of us can’t), it’s just you. So how can you market yourself without investing a ton of money? Here are some tips of stuff you can do (for free) to get you going:
Guess who has two thumbs and hates promoting herself on social media?
However, you’ve gotta do it. Get yourself on social media sites and promote your stuff! You’re going to feel like a broken record but, again, you’ve gotta do it. You never know who is going to read something you’ve done and want to know more, so make sure your links are available. But it’s more than just having the social media profiles–you have to actually use them. I’m guilty of vanishing for periods of time due to my mental health, but there’s a noticeable difference between my sales and reader engagement when I’m actually showing up and interacting with people (shocking, I know).
Which social media sites are the best? It sort of depends on what you’re doing. I’ve gotten great interaction on Tumblr in the past, but Tumblr is kind of turning into a trash fire right now so I wouldn’t necessarily suggest starting anything over there at this exact moment in time. Instagram is a good one that I’ve recently started using again. Even though it’s a photo-based platform, you’d be surprised how much people love photos of quotes.
Facebook is another monster entirely that I discussed in another post, so I won’t go into that here.. I have a Twitter, but I honestly don’t use it that much other than for sharing my work from other sites. I read some marketing analytics that said you need to tweet at least 30 times per day to make it useful as a marketing tool. I don’t have a whole lot of snappy one liners, so that’s not really the best fit for me. However, if you tweet a lot, make Twitter work for you! Pin tweets to your profile and be sure to keep your followers abreast of any new updates about your work.
Exploit Your Friends and Family for Fun and Profit
I know that sounds bad, but bear with me. Think about it–who is your first fan base? Your friends and family who love you and will buy a copy of your book just because they know you! Ask your loved ones if they’d be willing to share the link for your book and recommend it to others. Better yet, ask if they’d leave you a review on Amazon. Strangers are going to be more likely to buy a book with several five star reviews than one without any reviews at all.
Speaking of reviews…
If you haven’t heard of Booksprout, you should check them out immediately. Basically, you offer a free copy of your e-book in exchange for people to read and review it. Each review has to have the disclaimer that they received a copy for free, but they in no way have to be nice to you–you’ll get honest reviews, which can go either way. Then again, people give Neil Gaiman negative reviews on Amazon, so sometimes there’s no accounting for taste.
Talk to Your Local Bookstores
Want to get your books in stores? Talk to local bookstores! Lots of times, all you have to do is ask, but I like to come in armed with free copies of my book so they can check it out to ensure they’d like to stock it in their shop. A lot of places have shelves dedicated solely to local authors, and you’d be surprised by how quickly tourists eat that up.
It’s best to create a personal connection with store owners, but if you’re really freaked out about going in, you could again lean on your friends and family. Send a handful of them in there to request/order your book and, once the store sees the potential for sales, they might stock it. But seriously, you should just go in yourself. You might even be able to talk to the store owners about doing a reading/book signing, which is a great way to get new readers from foot traffic.
Check Out Local Readings
Most towns have a local literary scene of some kind, and it’s a great idea to get in touch with them. Attend readings, get to know the other people who frequent these events, and talk to whomever is in charge to get yourself on the schedule to read. I hate public speaking, but I can’t deny that it’s a great way to sell copies of my books.
I couldn’t write a post about self promotion without promoting myself, could I? Click on the links below to check me out on the following platforms:
Instagram: Like writing and obsessive posts about coffee? This link is for you!
Patreon: I post exclusive content for patrons, including daily writing tips and/or writing prompts as well as a first look at new short stories, poems, and essays. Plus, starting next month, I’m going to serialize my new novel exclusively for my patrons.
Tumblr: As I mentioned before, Tumblr is kind of a trash fire right now. But I do have tons of free content on there.
Amazon: Hey, look, I sell stuff! I’m hoping to get more shorts up soon, so check back here for upcoming content.
Booksprout: Follow me on here and get a notification when I’m handing out free copies in exchange for reviews!
Twitter: Might as well include this for shits and giggles.
As you might have gathered, Lola Black is a pseudonym I use for my romance/erotica writing, mostly because my wonderfully supportive father reads everything I write and I just can’t have this particular conversation with him. But I have published under my real name, so here are the links:
Amazon: I’ve been published in a range of genres, including the nonfiction essay collection What’s an Adult? No One Knows Anything and We’re All Going to Die. If you’ve ever felt like you’re faking adulthood, that book is for you.
Please support indie authors! We basically exist off of coffee and can’t afford it without your support.