The problem with self-publishing is the fact we all have to try to market or promote our books ourselves. We don’t have the luxury of a huge publishing house behind us, nor do we have the luxury of having enough money to employ a marketing manager to promote us. Some promote, others don’t. I do and thought I’d share my feelings about it with you for those thinking about whether to self promote or not.
One thing with me is the fact that everyone thinks I am confident, self aware and comfortable with being forward in promoting myself and others. The fact is, I’m not at all comfortable with it – never have been, but have learned through life, if you don’t do it for yourself, no one else will. I am far more comfortable with promoting others and getting the general public to see how wonderful these people all are (if they are). I despise having to try to do that for myself though but am sick of being left behind while others get on. At 56 years of age, I now also have to look after number one as well.
I used to work for a newspaper many years ago and learned how to do the entire promoting thing and how to get out there and be seen. One of the things they used to talk about was, ‘the snowball effect’. One person sees what you are selling and if they like it they tell someone else. That person then tells another until word keeps spreading – hence like a snowball that grows as it is rolled along in the snow, so it is that the more people go and talk about your work to others, the more it will be seen and heard of and sales will grow.
I have self-published three books now and use Twitter and Facebook to advertise them. I am, quite frankly, sick of the sight of my own constant plugging and am sure my ‘friends’ on both sites must be too. The problem is, a lot of us do the same thing because we have to if we want to be seen and neither site allows the opportunity to share a post without our friends having to see them. You can share a post with ‘friends only’ and ‘friends of friends’, so why not have the third option of ‘everyone else’ and no friends? It would make it much better for all of us and not make us feel so awful.
I live in a small town and we don’t have bookshops as we used to. Waterstones was here and closed down the week before my book came out – typical of my luck so I can’t go to them and ask them to stock some of my books. I wish I could, but if they aren’t there, then I can’t go to them. It means I have to use the only ways open to me for now. It is demeaning and makes me feel very uncomfortable each time I do it and yet I know I have to if I want word to spread. I am looking at other ways and only succumbed to this constant barrage on Twitter and Facebook because plan A didn’t work. What was plan A? Authors on Show.
Using the concept we used at the newspaper and the snowball effect, my idea was to set up a site where authors could help promote each other. I would promote as many authors as I could on here and in return, they would promote me on their sites. We would all do it for the ones we saw on here thereby spreading the word. Their friends and followers would see me and others and my friends and followers would see them. Problem is, no one did the same as I was doing in return except a couple here and there. By promoting, I don’t mean a link to this site; I mean proper promotion as we do on here, book blurb, bio, photo’s and links. I still think the original concept is a brilliant one, but unless others take part it is a non starter.
Authors on Show will still promote others, but I found it was far too much work doing it the way I was for nothing – or very little in return. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to promote other people, but found the old way wasn’t doing what it was meant to and so have changed it to the way it is today which sadly, means I now have to market myself via the social networking sites. There are others who try to help their fellow writers too, but sadly, I see it is always the same people taking and the same ones giving. While it remains this way, we all have to promote ourselves where we can. What is the point of having published a book if we don’t intend to get it seen so it can be bought? There are a few who get ‘seen’ on the likes of Amazon and suddenly become very popular. This doesn’t happen to most of us though and it is especially difficult with non fiction as it is more specialised.
There are several authors I have come across whilst doing Authors on Show whose books I would love to see gain the recognition from established publishing houses and get the big money deals we all hear of, sadly it hasn’t happened for them yet. By helping to promote them, we hope they will one day get seen. In the meantime, I have to promote myself as no one else will and that is the same for most of the rest of us. If we don’t believe in ourselves – how can we expect others to? If we don’t advertise, how can we expect to have our books seen? We don’t have them in bookshops as others have the luxury of. Our bookshop is Twitter and Facebook. I really can’t abide this self promoting lark but know I have to do it. Each day I sit at the laptop and wonder whether to advertise myself. I cringe inwardly each time I do it.
I wish there was another way, but there isn’t. Besides, publishers and agents say they want pro-active authors these days that do just what we are doing. Advertise and you are in danger of upsetting people, don’t advertise and the agents and publishers will ignore you. It seems it’s a no win situation for most authors today, so for now – I’m plodding on with the promoting – not just of myself, but for others too. If anyone reading this would like to help promote my books on their sites or blog pages, I would be very grateful.