Marketing takes time, it is not free, you have to be patient, and you have to be willing to take risks. This post chronicles the steps I’ve taken over the last six months. If you want to know more about any of my marketing efforts, drop me a comment and I’ll go into the gritty details.
My first novel, Il Molo, was published in March 2014. Writing it was fun and satisfying. Unfortunately, I had no idea of how to get it published. Then I learned about self publishing through CreateSpace and I was off. Fortunately I could rely on the valuable experience of my aunt, Rebecca Sloan, who had already gone the self publishing route for two of her books.
March 15, 2014 – I remember the elation I felt when CreateSpace informed me that Il Molo had been reviewed and was ready for publication. I hit the Publish button – and I was off.
Il Molo was published – available on CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in Kindle version. That unfortunately was not enough. Ahead of me lurked – MARKETING – the biggest challenge for a self publisher. There are millions of books out there, and mine was just another one.
I must admit that I didn’t really have a marketing strategy, and still don’t. Over several weeks I surfed the web for marketing advice and tools, exchanged numerous emails with my aunt, read authors’ blogs, and did a lot of hemming and hawing about what would be best for me. I decided to try a few things and see what happened.
If you want to keep peace in your entourage, notifying family and friends about your literary accomplishment is a necessary but quite overrated first step. Yes, the same day Il Molo was published I emailed all my family and friends. I also posted an announcement on my FaceBook page. Not many likes, and the reactions were varied – from “I didn’t know you could write”, to “great I’ll buy a copy”, to “that’s nice”. A follow-up email didn’t stir up much more interest.
I set up a FB page for Il Molo. I ran an ad campaign on FB (over 1,000 likes) and updated the page two or three times a week with new photos, articles and shares. I’m still doing this. I used some of the services offered by GoodReads – an author page, a blog, posted a short story and an excerpt from Il Molo, and began an ad campaign which is still running.
Checking CreateSpace and Kindle Publishing everyday for book sales only increased my anxiety. By the end of June, I had sold 21 paperback copies and 10 Kindle copies. I guess selling 31 copies was not too bad for a first novel. And yes, I did receive the royalties.
Besides the 20 copies I ordered myself (I sold a few in Geneva) sales were awful. I did convince a publisher friend in Geneva (I live in Switzerland) to take a few to sell at the Annual Book Fair in May. One copy was sold and my friend donated one to the Swiss National Library. I left a copy at an English language bookstore and returned two months later to take it back.
BIRTH OF LITERARY SELFIES
Toward the end of April, in one of my innumerable email discussions with my aunt, she brought up the idea of a website for self publishers that would showcase their work free of charge. The site would also be a place where avid readers could discover new writers. What a great idea! She told me that the technical side of setting up a website was not her thing. But I assured her I could do it. And thus Literary Selfies was born. We were realistic and knew we weren’t the only site for indie authors.
Of course we’re the first two authors on the site – it’s only fair. We expanded our coverage to a FB page, Twitter and and then Pinterest, posting the books, authors and other news featured on Literary Selfies. Initially we financed ads on FB (over 3,660 likes) and GoogleAdwords (quite a few clicks). Eventually we ran an ad campaign on Goodreads. As of today we have 42 books showcased from 36 authors.
BACK TO IL MOLO
During the summer, a few more copies were sold. I got some good reviews and one very discouraging one. That did not daunt me and I revisited some of the marketing tools I had looked at before. Plus I continued working on my next book. Not easy juggling all that while doing my day job.
While being Webmaster for Literary Selfies and posting to social media, I knew had to get back to marketing Il Molo. So…I did a book Goodreads books giveaway (5 copies, 2 reviews received, and 175 Goodreaders added it to their to-read list), and a Kindle Countdown Deal (not much success). I kept telling myself that exposure was the most important.
Just recently I completed a Kindle Free Book promotion – over 350 copies were downloaded. Hope to get some reviews and hope these sales spawn more. After hesitating for a long time, I joined BooksGoSocial for a year. They have tweeted Il Molo to death and it is featured on the site but so far no additional book sales. The jury is out on this one.
And the most recent marketing tool – I set up this blog. I’ve thought about opening a Twitter and Pinterest account for Il Molo, but the thought of managing more accounts and thinking up more passwords makes my eyes cross.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
That’s what I keep telling myself. It’s been over six months since I published Il Molo. After all, John Grisham’s first book, a Time to Kill (which for me is one of his best), only became noticed after the success of The Firm. That gives me the courage to continue working on my second book – that is, if I find time between working, marketing, web mastering, and posting to social media.