Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Self-Promotion Treadmill

One of the downsides of being an Indie writer is the need for self promotion. I've spent a lot of time over the last year trying to figure out how to promote White Jade and The Lance. I've read a lot of blogs, articles and books about guerilla marketing and self promotion. Joe Konrath has probably written the Bible of Indie promotion. If you have not already done so, look him up. His blog is at http://www.jakonrath.blogspot.com. Joe's basic philosophy is brutal in its simplicity: promotion takes time and a lot of work.

The problem isn't so much finding out what to do, it's balancing that with writing. For me, that is the real work. It's where the juice is. Marketing is a job. Writing is hard work, but it's not a job. It's life.

Nelson DeMille's approach is that writing more books is a better way to spend your time than self promotion. Konrath would agree that you need as many books out there as you can produce, a body of work over time.

You're probably in trouble if you are writing just for the money, both from a creative standpoint and for the future of your early retirement. But still...money is good. Reward is good. Millions of readers would be good. That is going to take self promotion.

We are in the first stages of a massive revolution in publishing and marketing and it's not clear yet what really works and what doesn't. It also depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Here are a few things that keep popping up from various experts on marketing your books.

WARNING: Cliché Alert

Take this list with a grain of salt.

1.      ads don't work, don't waste your money
2.      press releases don't work, don't waste your money
3.      you need a great cover
4.      you need to write a lot of books
5.      a series is good
6.      you need to stick to your genre
7.      you need to keep control of your work
8.      you need to think in terms of the long run
9.      you need to think internationally
10.  you need friends
11.  you need to support other Indie writers
12.  you need to do all those things Amazon suggests, like the Author Central page
13.  you need the patience of Job

By friends, I don't mean Auntie May, your buddies Joe and Irene and your Mom. I mean the people you support and meet online, on Facebook, on the Amazon forums, in specialized groups on Goodreads and LinkedIn. I'm not so sure about Twitter, but maybe. The groups you choose to join are an invaluable resource. It doesn't mean those folks will buy your books. It does mean you can joke, laugh, tap resources, learn, celebrate success, get the word out about your writing, get yourself out of the writer's isolation and in general participate in the human race. That is good, trust me.

It boils down to this: link up with others and support them. Write as much as you can. Trust in the value of what you write. Have fun doing it. Otherwise, why bother? Remember Field of Dreams? If you build it, they will come...


  1. Good, balanced perspective, Alex. The only thing I'd add is that this is true for all authors breaking in--indie or trad pubbed.

  2. Hi Jennie, I've finally got comments working properly, so I can leave a visible reply. Thanks!


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