Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I Have Learned As A Self Published Author

In this last year of marketing my book The Virgin Diaries, I have learned quite a bit. I often get emails from other authors asking me how to go about getting their book noticed. So I will share some of my knowledge here.

You publish your own book. It's your baby. You have been working on it for years. You have been rejected by the agents, the publishing houses, all the stupid idiots who clearly have NO idea what they are doing!

You take matters in your own hands. The lofty dreams begin. OPRAH'S COUCH!
We ALL see it. We ALL want it. We ALL send her a copy and think/hope that she will immediately see the incredible value of our book and BOOM! Fame, fortune and everything that goes with it. It's a nice little dream. I have had it. I have lived it. Without the fortune and fame part. ALL authors, self published or not, NEED to find their audience first.
When have you seen a teaser for the Oprah or Ellen show that went like this:

Tomorrow's show - A person you never heard of wrote a book that nobody read.

NO, you hear: Tomorrow, the book that's getting all the buzz  - How To  Blah Blah Blah.

The big media venues have to get ratings. They go with what they know will bring in an audience.

You should absolutely create a great press kit and target all the television talk shows from local news to Oprah. BUT that is the L.O.N.G. shot. I will go back to Amanda Hocking. She found blog reviewers to help spread the word for her. That's how she got herself a $2M four book deal in less than a year! She writes well, she found SOMEBODY ELSE to say her work is good and has value and then it became word of mouth. She also kept her prices low, knowing someone will pay $2.99 for Kindle. It's not a big investment and it's immediate. She gets 70% of that. Not too shabby.

Finding bloggers who review your genre is KEY!! They are the ones who get to the everyday people who are really your audience. I cannot stress this enough. It's free too. It involves searching for them and pitching them. So many have an e-reader so you can email them a version and pay nothing. If you must snail mail, it's still not a lot of cash on your part.

Utilizing Facebook Ads is also an inexpensive way to target millions. Whether you direct them to your Amazon page or your website, you can bid on clicks. Facebook will recommend $1 or more per click.Yeah, of course. But you can bid anything you wish. $0.10 will do just fine. $50 goes a long way. You select your demographic and target the many subjects available on FB. Like people who "Like" Oprah!

You should also sign up for Help A Reporter Out, Reporter Connection and Radio Publicity (all dot coms). They send daily emails to you letting you know if there is someone who is looking for a story or show related to your topic. It's great exposure and it helps to build your media resume and in turn, validates you to the more high profile shows.

It is important to listen to yourself after being interviewed. Clean up your speaking skills. Watch for repeating your words, saying "Uh" a lot and make sure to LISTEN to the host. Be prepared. Have a list of questions ready to provide for them. They won't always want it but it's a good thing to offer. If possible, let them know you are available for last minute interviews if they get a cancellation. If you find you click with a particular show, ask to be a regular guest where you can weigh in on issues (not always be promoting your product). It is a great way to get people to become aware of you and they will look you up.

When you join blog groups, Facebook and all the social media, do not hard sell. You will be ignored. Who wants some stranger on Facebook to cram their product down your throat? I hide the ones that do on my page. Establish yourself as a person who creates dialogue. Be funny, irreverent, controversial...anything to get people interested in you. Then they will gravitate to what you have to offer. Most won't buy it.
That is OK, but once they know about it, it may come up in a conversation they are having with another friend..."Oh, yeah, I have a FB friend that wrote a book about that. You should check it out..."

My least favorite part of all of it is patience. Chances are you will not be an overnight sensation. So if you don't get a call from one of Oprah's people, don't take it as a defeat. There is a huge chance your envelope was never even opened and it's in the trash along with the thousands of other books hoping to be the next Harry Potter.

Just keep writing, blogging, looking for your audience. Have fun and give it to God!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Next Wave....

It has been a while since I have blogged. So I figured it's time to get my ass in gear.
I was recently made aware of Amanda Hocking. She is a self published author who put her first book out in April 2010. St. Martin's Press just offered her $2M for a four book deal.
I read her blog and she stated that her experience is not the norm and didn't want everyone to think it was easy. While I agree with her completely, what I think she didn't stress is that this whole self publishing deal is the wave of the future.
I predict within twenty years, there will be no more books. It will save trees but mostly because of Kindle, Nook and the like. People these days are all about technology. I am still old school and like to hold a book in my hand. I like the feel, the smell but soon enough, everything will be either print on demand or electronic.
Back to Amanda Hocking and her statement about self publishing. Yes, she is an  extreme case of very fast success. Most will not find such an enormous audience as she has in such a short time. But you can compare this with any other venue. For instance, if you upload a video to Youtube, there is no guarantee that it will be forwarded around the world overnight. Chances are you won't be the next Justin Beiber but that doesn't mean you should give up. I felt her message, though realistic, was slightly discouraging.
If you are an author and have a good overall product, you can inexpensively upload your book and have it available to the public within weeks. You have to utilize social networking, find people to blog/review your work and create interesting press kits. Youtube is a great way to help get the public acquainted with you and your work.
There is no absolute way to be successful when you are creative. You fall off of the horse everyday. People try to discourage your endeavors because they are jealous or afraid you are too hopeful for a successful outcome. You must pay them no mind. Be creative. Be bold. Believe in yourself and don't let the negative convince you that it's better to just dream. The publishing world is changing and it's at the very beginning. It's an important time and by forging ahead, you become a pioneer and help to create the road others will follow.