The internet is bursting at the seams with advice for indie authors on how to promote our books. Just google that shit. If you weren’t born to hustle, then this might not be for you. Like, promoting your book is a grind, and you are now an entrepreneur. If you think your book is going to magically shoot to the top of The New York Times Bestseller list and win tons of awards with no effort on your part (other than finishing the book), you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ve got to grind.
There’s a lot of information out there. Don’t get overwhelmed. Listen to your intuition and the right things will come to you at just the right time. Don’t ignore these whispers from the Universe. The Universe helps those who help themselves, and the more you help yourself, the more help you get from the Universe. Trust me on this one.
- Think local book festivals
I signed up for the AJC Decatur Book Festival (September 1-3, 2017) as an Emerging Writer. This is a special opportunity set up by the festival specific for indie authors. My book is displayed and for sale at the Emerging Writers Tent, and for $50 more, I obtained a slot to do a brief reading and sign copies of my book. As a bonus, I get to attend all of the workshops and network with successful and acclaimed authors.
- Set up a Booklife Profile (an indie-author specific platform by Publisher’s Weekly)
It’s free to set up a Booklife profile, register your book, and submit it for a Publisher’s Weekly book review. Your book is not guaranteed to be reviewed, but it’s guaranteed to be considered, which means it gets viewed (even if it’s not selected) by people who hold sway and influence in the publishing industry.
I created my Booklife profile, registered my book, and then submitted it for a free review by Publisher’s Weekly. Then I took the additional step (and $99 investment) of submitting Silicon Valley Girl for the Second Annual Booklife Prize. Per the webpage, “Each submission receives a brief written evaluation by a Publishers Weekly reviewer and a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize.” Do you see the incredible value in this? If you don’t, it’s because you’re not a hustler. Whatever. I’m just saying. Keep reading.
- Create an Author Profile on Goodreads
I already have an account at goodreads.com, so I only had to search for my book, claim it, and then submit for an author profile. The whole process took a day or two. Easy. Ridiculously easy.
- Set up a book giveaway on Goodreads
I’m not going to foolishly believe I’m going to magically get 100 awesome reviews on goodreads without giving some books away for free. Find your balance. I’m not willing to make my book available on Kindle Unlimited, but if that’s your thing, rock with it. This is my thing: I’m giving away 20 signed copies of Silicon Valley Girl. The reviews will come, and I’m taking personal responsibility for raising pubic awareness of my book.
- Send review copies out to movers and shakers, published authors and book reviewers
I used several different sources to find book reviewers that were a fit for my genre, which is autobiography/memoir and literary nonfiction. Here’s one. This takes time and some research, but I knocked it out quickly because I was allowing my intuition to be my guide, and I’m passionate about what I’m doing. If I’m not passionate about my book, why should I expect anyone else to be? If I read a notable author’s memoir and liked it, I’m going to get in touch with her and send her a review copy of my book. I’m not asking him to post a review publicly. I’m spreading awareness. This is what I call the silent hustle. But the book reviewers are part of the regular hustle. The point is, I’m getting my hustle on.
- Use social media, if that’s your thing
Social media is not really my thing, but I do have a website and blog, and author pages on goodreads and Amazon. My Linkedin profile is all about my corporate career and has nothing to do with my writing. This is how I want it for now. Do whatever suits you. I’m not active on Facebook, but I visited my abandoned profile and posted a link to my blog so my friends and family would know my book is published and available for sale. I linked to my goodreads and Amazon author pages as well, and announced my 10-day Goodreads book giveaway.
- Text your friends and family. Individually.
Mass texts are annoying and everyone knows that. Someone is going to reply and your mass text quickly becomes an annoyance and a nuisance. To twenty people. I took the time to send individual texts to my friends and family announcing my goodreads giveaway, and encouraging them each to tweet or share the giveaway using the social media buttons on the giveaway page, as well as enter themselves for a chance to win a signed copy. Do you see the difference between an annoying text saying “Please buy my book,” and a text that says “Enter for a chance to win a free, signed copy of my book! Then share this giveaway on social media?”
- Give away more free copies of your book to friends and family
I didn’t give away a ton, but I received 50 advance copies of the paperback and 25 advance copies of the hardcover. That’s 75 books total. So after sending my book off to 25 or more professional reviewers (none of which required a submission fee), and sending an additional 15 or so copies to notable writers and accessible public figures in my genre, I simply gave away 12 personally autographed copies of Silicon Valley Girl to people who are mentioned in the book or to people I thought would enjoy it. People who enjoy books recommend them to their friends. And I still have 20 copies left for my Goodreads giveaway.
- Query for more book reviews
In my research, I found that some book reviewers don’t want you to send them a hard copy. Some will take an electronic copy via Submittable, and others want you to query. I drafted a strong query letter that includes a synopsis of Silicon Valley Girl, an author bio, basic stats for the book including ISBN and page count, and links to a number of retailers where the book can be purchased online. I found out how to do this by doing a google search. I’m shrewd and can quickly tell if an article is useful to me and is giving me reliable, meaningful information. I sum this up in about 30 seconds. If the article doesn’t have what I’m looking for or is poorly written, I immediately go back to my search results to find what I’m looking for. Along with the query letter, I include the cover of my book as a jpg image. Who doesn’t like a sexy book cover? I created a unique letter for each reviewer I queried. No one wants a generic letter. Personalize everything you can. It makes a difference.
- Use your publishing company’s built-in promotional plan
In my case, $1000 of promotional efforts on the part of the publishing services company was written into my non-exclusive contract. This includes about a dozen different items, including a press release, book promotional materials to local libraries, 10 additional review copies to reviewers or other institutions, book announcement fliers, and a book announcement email that I can send to as many people as I want. They’re trying to sell me a bunch of additional promotional services now, which I’m not buying. My intuition tells me not to spend any more money with them. Listen to your gut. Maybe yours tells you something different. Great. Roll with it.
And there you have it. Ten things I’ve done in the last seven days to promote my new book, Silicon Valley Girl. Now, what are you doing to promote your book? As my BF Stella used to say, “What you gonna do, barbeque or mildew?” I leave that up to you, but I recommend you get your hustle on if you want anyone to know about your book.