There are a lot of us out there. Authors. With great books to share. Too often, though, we feel alone in our endeavors, trying to get readers to notice us in the roiling sea of other great books. This is a great time to be a writer! It’s more possible than it has ever been to publish a book. But that means that all sorts of other people are doing the same.
Whether you are independently publishing your work, under contract with a traditional publisher, or working with a small, online press, the business of marketing one’s work falls more and more upon the shoulders of the author. “But I just want to write,” you say. Hey, I’m with you. Me, too. But that’s not our reality anymore.
How do we get “out there” where someone might notice?
First, write a quality book, no matter the genre. If you’re publishing independently, surround yourself with an expert team of editors, formatters, and cover artists. First impressions matter. Don’t give the reader a reason to skip past your book; give them a reason to stop and look at it, really look at it. Hopefully, they’ll be intrigued enough to click the ‘buy’ button.
Then, the meat of this post: Network. Before you ask people to spread the news about your book, make sure you’ve nurtured relationships with them, and have crowed about their successes. You can do this well before you are ready to publish your own work; in fact, that’s the best time to create these relationships. Have you gone to Catholic Writers Conference Live? Or participated in the online CWG conference? How about the Writing Retreat? Or any other writing focused activities? What about the CWG Facebook page? Have you interacted with other writers in any of those venues? I hope so, because that’s crucial for the next step, which is:
Celebrate with them! Post their new releases or awards on your Facebook page. Use your blog or Twitter to let your followers know there’s something available that’s worth their time. If you’re on Twitter, find and follow some entities that reflect your interests; they may reTweet for you and expand your reach.
Buy and read your friends’ books, and then review them on Amazon and Goodreads. *Caveat: Always say something nice, or don’t post a review. This does not mean you can’t be honest, but be honest in a kind manner. Personally, I never give a review with less than four stars, and even if I didn’t like everything about the book, I focus on what I loved about the book—or, if it’s in a genre that’s not my favorite, focus on what readers of that specific type of book will enjoy about this particular one.
Here’s an example of how this might work. A few weeks ago, Erin McCole Cupp contacted me because I’d done a cover reveal on my upcoming release, Hijacked, on CWG’s Facebook page. Would I like to trade read and reviews with her? She’d recently published Don’t You Forget About Me, a cozy mystery. I said yes, and posted reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. She upped the ante and asked me to be an interviewee on her blog the week my book comes out. I said yes (!), and then tagged her on a My Writing Process blog tour/relay. With any luck, some of my readers will be interested in her work and some of hers readers, in mine. That’s just with two authors! Imagine what can happen when more get in on the fun!
(And did you notice what I just did? I linked Erin’s website and the Amazon link to buy her book to this post. I purposely do this for everyone I mention on both my CWG and personal blogs. What goes around comes around…)
Join writing organizations and establish relationships with authors you respect. Be a cheerleader for them, and hope they’ll return the favor when it’s your turn. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it is well worth the effort—not just because they’re going to help you sell books, but because they are wonderful people and their friendships enrich your life.
Are you feeling a little less alone now? I hope so! If you’ve had success in the arena of networking, please share your story! What are the elements that contribute to that success?