Thoughts After a Week of Promotion

I’ve heard from a lot of self-publishing authors that they hate the promotion process. After a week of working to get myself out there, I’m not sure I understand the angst. I’ve found the experience actually quite fun, and I think that’s because I approached it a different way. Now, let me be absolutely clear that my book isn’t flying off the shelves, but right now performance is not what I’m after. I’m trying to build a readership that will continue on to my future works and above all, enjoy my stories.

I’ve known I was going to self-publish for about a year now. In that time when I wasn’t writing I’ve been building networks. I didn’t seek out to do that at the start, but now that I’ve had a chance to look at it critically, that’s exactly what I did. I met some great people on Critique Circle and Kindleboards that I have since come to know much better. I’ve invited several of them to guest blog, or madlib, or interview here because I like their style and think they have interesting things to say. I’ve traded beta reads with some of them, and I’ve learned more about writing from them than I’ve learned in any book. That’s what I mean by building a network, not the smarmy car-salesman idea I’m sure you envisioned when I first mentioned it. Anyway, these are the people I reached out to first, because I know them and I was pretty sure they wouldn’t take one look at my email and run the other way. So I guess you could say that I set myself up for success. I think that’s really important because it built my confidence for what came next.

From there, I extended to book blogs that I follow. In June of this year I happened upon the marvel that is book blogs! Little corners of the web dedicated to reading and writing about the love of books. I was hooked immediately. I have no idea how many book blogs I follow now, but it has to be more than thirty. They each give a slightly different perspective on books. I’ve found so many wonderful reads through them, and I highly recommend searching them out in the genres you like as a reader, not just a writer.

Now, not every blog I follow is an appropriate venue for my book, and I understand that. I didn’t just send out a mass email bomb. I treated each blog as an individual. I made sure to read their policies and check out the kind of books they’d reviewed and enjoyed in the past. That’s really important and I think it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I took time with each request I sent out, I found out what kind of books they liked and only submitted if I thought they would genuinely be interested. I always sent the information they requested and nothing else. Once again, I set myself up for success.

My goal isn’t to get my book in front of a million random eyes, but a smaller number of the right eyes. There’s no sense pushing my book on someone who probably isn’t going to like it or is predisposed against it. That just leads to frustration on their end and mine.

While I’m on the subject of minimizing frustration, let me share one thing that has made my life so much easier during all of this. I made up a webpage for my book with the cover, blurb, and a link where an excerpt can be read. This is where I point people who ask for that information with a review request. However, if they want the information pasted into the email directly I make sure to follow those instructions. I also created a one page document (in .pdf and .doc formats) with the same information I can attach to emails, because some reviewers will request a separate summary sheet.

From the dismal reports of some other authors, I expected to hear back from very few of my requests, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my results so far. I’ve achieved a 25% success rate with my review requests, and that’s over a long holiday weekend when people might not be checking emails as much as usual. I expect that number to climb as this week goes on. Many reviewers are backlogged a few months, so keep that in mind when you make these requests. I probably should have started sooner, but I wanted to present a very polished product to them and didn’t feel comfortable sending an ARC.

Here’s the key idea I want to leave you with. Make every interaction with reviewers and bloggers the most pleasant experience possible. Be polite, professional and accommodating. No matter what the result, I want them to remember me fondly, not be annoyed with me.

I’ve decided to treat this more as a way get to know new people rather than push my wares. Maybe that’s not the savviest way to tackle this endeavor, but it’s how I feel comfortable. So if you’re new around here and visiting to see what I’m about, hello and thank you for reading. I promise not every entry will be this long.

-C

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4 Responses to “Thoughts After a Week of Promotion”

  1. C D Meetens says:

    Really useful information here, Coral, and I’m glad you’re doing well with your review requests.

  2. Jimi says:

    Thank you for the tips, Coral! Congrats on publication!

  3. Emily Lark says:

    I think the reason why most authors hate marketing is that building a following takes time, which some writers rather spend writing. However, I’m in agreement with you. When I released Trueblood’s Plight early this month, I’d been running a blog tour as well as a Goodreads giveaway for two weeks.

    During those two weeks, I did 12-14 guest posts/got reviews/author interviews and had well over 800 readers on Goodreads request a copy of the book from the contest. Grant it, now that the contest and virtual tour are over, the sales are slowly trickling in.

    Thing is, numbers aren’t my biggest concern right now. I’m more interested in building my brand and making connections. I figure, the more I converse with readers and the more active I am online, the better my sales will become.

    • Coral says:

      Right, the frustration comes in because authors want an immediate response to what they do, and when that doesn’t happen they get increasingly manic about their promotion which I think is what causes a lot of the self-publish backlash. We all need to relax and have more fun with it. I’m not saying abandon the promotion process entirely, but treat it more like an offering than a push. I think everyone involved will be happier.

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