What Do You Mean I’m Not Done? by Janice L. Dick

The Mystery of Marketing

For writers, marketing can be a frightening proposition, partly due to the fact that many of us are more creative than business-minded. If that doesn’t apply to you, be thankful. It’s difficult to handle both, but it is necessary. Back in the day, traditional publishers took care of marketing, but now it’s up to the author, whether you’re traditional or indie.

“The good news about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad news about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself.” —Lori Lesko

There are lots of free marketing plans online that can help create a workable one for you. The idea of a printed plan is ideal, giving direction and motivation, as well allowing us to chart our progress. The plan will necessarily differ from person to person.

Here are a few reminders as you begin this step:

  • Start long before your book is ready to publish. (How about NOW?)
  • Update your website.
  • Set up a launch plan. (Here’s a book launch checklist.)
  • Sign up for free or paid memberships in helpful advertising aids such as Canva, DIY Bookcovers, 3-D Bookcover Creator, etc. More are mentioned below.
  • Build an email list (study this online or take a course). Start today!

My first virtual book launch was on Facebook, and it went very well. So, I used that method again for my next launch. This time it was dismal. Why? I don’t know. People quickly lose interest. Something new is exciting. So, change it up often.

A friend hired a professional publicist, but after an expenditure of $1500, came away without any measurable results. Other people say this effort is worthwhile for them. As you can, the journey is not the same for everyone.

“Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a short cut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that.” —Zoe Winters

I have also taken part in BookSweeps, which is a paid program, and was rewarded by about 800 new email subscribers. That’s good, in my mind.

If you’re wondering why you need email subscribers, it’s because you will need and want to send out a newsletter to your followers. Send it as often or as seldom as you think they will prefer. There’s a delicate balance. Too often and they’ll unsubscribe; too seldom and they’ll lose interest. I use MailerLite to create and send my newsletters, and although it takes time to get the hang of it, it’s quite doable. Have fun, be creative, be genuine, use lots of pics, and some giveaways. Note that you need to create an email sign-up button on your website, which requests double permission to add their name to your mailing list.

People love giveaways. Contests. What you need is a “reader magnet” to capture their interest, preferably something related to your book: character sketches, games, puzzles, FAQs, gift cards, whatever you can think up.

Keep up the social media connections so you remain on people’s radar.

Many authors spend big bucks on paid ads through Facebook, Amazon, Bookbub, and other avenues to make their books known and available to the people who were not previously aware of them. Figure out the cost and the anticipated and actual outcomes. Is there sufficient ROI (return on investment) to make this expenditure worth the cost? Do you have the cash to make this happen?

How Can We Raise Enough Money to Market Before Our Book Has Sold?

In Canada, authors can benefit from government funding for artists. Access Copyright is one site, another is Canada Council for the Arts—Public Lending Rights. I personally profit from both of these annually.

Another adventure is to offer readings and workshops in your local area and beyond. In my province, the Saskatchewan Writers Guild offers flat rates for specific promos, and if the venue, such as a library, applies through SWG, they pay the guild a minimal amount without having to pay the presenter more than they can afford. Win-win.

“The best self-promotion is your next book. And the book after that and after that …” —Bella Andre.

Discuss marketing with other authors, take courses, read how-to books, experiment. Never stop trying. That’s the way to successful marketing—and book sales. 

Janice L. Dick is an award-winning author of six historical novels and three contemporary cozy mysteries. A member of WritersInk in Humboldt SK, InScribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship and Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, she is also an Advanced Toastmaster Silver. Janice lives and writes from rural Saskatchewan where she lives with her husband.

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  1. Tracy Krauss says:

    Excellent article Janice! You covered all the bases!

  2. Informative and relevant. It’s a good reminder that marketing is a vital part of an author’s business acumen.

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