As independent authors, or indie authors, you have a challenge that mainstream published authors do not – you are the sole person promoting your book. I recently read a post by a mainstream published author and one of her comments was that indie authors (her term was self-published authors) have a much better understanding of book promotion and author branding. She felt that almost all indie authors do a much better job of branding themselves.
I had to think about that, and my conclusion was, maybe the indie authors in her circle were great at branding themselves, but that’s not what I see (I’m purposefully not revealing this person because I thought this author seemed to reflect a bit of snobbery toward the indie author). Many authors I interact with don’t seem to understand how to sell books – it’s the difference between being a writer and a marketer. And authors (who want to sell books) have to be both.
As yourself these questions:
- Do you know how to brand yourself correctly?
- Do you know what that really means?
- Are you effectively promoting your books and using your brand?
- What do promoting and branding really mean?
Promoting your book is all about marketing your book, and believe me, too many authors don’t understand marketing.
Marketing Your Book – Branding
I write mystery novels. I have the Reed Ferguson mystery series (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies and Reel Estate Rip-off), and Nephilim Genesis of Evil, a supernatural thriller, or I could call it a horror book. You’re saying to yourself – so what? Exactly! I’m just like thousands of other authors out in cyberspace (let alone at a bookstore). As the author, I have to make readers care about my books. I have to have a brand.
What does it mean to brand yourself? Too many indie authors (and certainly mainstream authors) don’t have a clue as to what this really means. Branding isn’t just saying:
- I write mystery novels
- I am an author of horror books
- Read my mystery series
- Readers couldn’t put my novel down
- My novel is a page-turner
- and so on
Guess what? You and every other author out there is thinking the same thing. Search on Amazon and Smashwords and see how many indie authors (and mainstream authors) make statements like that. Now, please make sure you understand what I’m saying. These are fine statements and they may absolutely be true of your books. But everyone else is saying it, too. It doesn’t let your readers know what makes you different. It doesn’t tell the reader why they should buy your book instead of the other guy’s book. When you take some time to figure out what makes your works unique from everything else out there, you’re on your way to figuring out your brand.
Marketing Your Book – The Reader Won’t Find You
In my post Indie Authors Miss Golden Opportunity, I talk about how indie authors need to really understand what constitutes quality writing before they publish. Indie authors still fight the stigma that their books, by virtue of being self-published, must not be good. My first bit of promoting advice is to always make sure your book is worthy of publication before you publish it. Once you’ve published, if you want to make any money at it, you have to know how to promote your book as well. It’s naive to think readers will just find you (there were millions of titles published last year alone) – yes, genre authors and non-fiction authors (who have a platform) do better, but there’s just too much out there to expect readers to scroll through Amazon or Barnes & Noble and stumble upon your works. You have to do things to get readers to find you. You need a platform, but you need to use it effectively.
Marketing Your Book – The Platform
Remember, you are the brand, and your books are an extension of the brand. At bare minimum, you should being using the following to promote yourself and your books:
- a Twitter account
- a Facebook fan page
- an author website
- a Google+ account
- a blog
Many authors still don’t have a blog, maybe because they don’t like the task of keeping up the blog, and that’s understandable, but you are missing out on a way of promoting your books, and your brand. But here’s the key with anything you are using for your platform. You have to use it, and use it well. If you are on Twitter and all you do is self-promote, it’s not going to work well. If you have a Facebook fan page, but you don’t ever post on it, people won’t come back. Your author website needs to look professional (this is so critical to understand that I’ll be doing a post on this soon). You absolutely need to be on Facebook and Google+. Now, I am not a fan of Facebook or Google (I’ve even harped on how I thought Google+ was not worth the time but I’ve changed my mind), but they are critical for promotion. Want to know why? Check back here because I will be showing you why they are important in future posts, but it comes down to SEO. If you don’t understand SEO, start learning. It may be the best way for readers to find you.
A Final Thought
Remember, there are tons of books out there. In this new age of publishing, there is a lot of crap out there, too. Laura Miller (senior writer at Salon.com) wrote an interesting piece about this in 2010. It’s a bit sarcastic, but it makes a great point about readers and bad writing and bad books. Just think where things are now as we near 2012, with so many more indie authors publishing books. There’s even more to choose from.
You are the brand. You have to promote yourself. You have to make it happen. Good luck!