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!


  1. great article, kimberly. i'm just now stepping out into the self publishing world--having sold two novels to tor that fizzled and a love story to a small canadian press that didn't sell well--that's being euphemistic--hell, it didn't sell at all. so i armed myself with a new cover and am going to kindle. we'll see.

  2. Agreed - a helpful, intriguing post. I've been working on a nonfiction proposal, and have enjoyed learning about folks' experiences with self-publishing. Anyway, I'm delighted to cross paths with you via Twitter, Kimberley - many of your posts/messages resonate with me, and I'm looking forward to following your work!

  3. Great Great GREAT post! I take it this is your work for the Indie Spotlight? I'll be adding you to the list right now :D

  4. I must admit I haven't had such a good laugh in a long time.
    Kudo's for telling it the way it really is.
    I experienced all of the same (including dreams of grandeur on Oprah's couch).
    Your post is honest, refreshing & about the best thing I've read today (other than my blog lol).

  5. Lot's of good suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to write this post. By the way, I will be an overnight sensation:)

  6. I just got turned away for reviews by 2 sites for being self-published. Thanks for the article, and I'll post this and follow your blog. We're already on FB!

  7. Great ideas! I'm just starting down the marketing road, for my first self-published book and have been searching for things to do.

  8. Fantastic tips and great advice. Thanks so much for this!

  9. I absolutely enjoyed reading this piece. It's enlightening. I also learnt a few things - don't hard sell to strangers, get controversial, sign up for Thank you very much.

    Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku