Indie Self-Promotion: If Nobody’s Doing It, Nobody’s Buying It.

I came here to read your blog, not to go on a scavenger hunt!

I’ve noticed a weird trend lately, and it’s bugging me. As a writer, I go to a lot of writing blogs. I just randomly end up there. Sometimes I don’t even know how I got there… but there I am, staring at the screen, confused, wondering what year it is.

For the most part I enjoy blogs about writing. Some of them are a bit dull, but if everyone was brilliant, I wouldn’t be half as entertaining. Therefore, dullness doesn’t disagree with me.

Wanna know what does…? Indie authors blogging about their books without a link to their book on their blog.

Let’s pause to dwell on that for a sec.

Look at this blog. My book is everywhere. In the sidebar, in the menu, hell, if you click on the picture of my face it’ll take you to my website that is, you got it, all about my book. And my site… that’s a whole other blog post. My site is a huge advertisement. If I’m not selling you Seed, then I’m telling you to follow me on all the various sites I’m on: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads… I’m starting to feel like an internet virus. Don’t like horror? Awesome, follow me anyway. Think I’m cute? Sweet, follow me so I can convert you to the dark side.

I’m naturally nosy. I want to know your business whether you want me to know it or not. Therefore, if I come across a blog that’s the least bit interesting, I want to know who you are and how to get in touch. That goes double for writing blogs that sport sad entries about paltry book sales and how the writer is thinking about giving up. My knee-jerk reaction is to look for the book you’re talking about, and most of the time it’s just not there.

How does that make any sense?

If you’re going to take the time and energy to write a blog, why wouldn’t you use the time and energy you’ve spent to your advantage? Put a link to your book in your menu, and for gods sake, get a sidebar. I hear they’re giving those doodads out for free these days.

There’s nothing that annoys me more than someone whining about book sales when they, quite simply, don’t advertise themselves. Look, the rapture came and went and Jesus didn’t make a cameo, so I doubt you’ll be struck between the eyes by a Christmas miracle anytime soon. This isn’t even about legwork or ‘putting in the hours’ to get people familiar with your novel. Just put a link somewhere. Anywhere. But somewhere where I’ll see it. Make sure it says ‘Check out my book!’ or, better yet, use your cover image and turn it into a link.

But then there’s another problem…

A lot of indie writers have blogs where they review books, post about upcoming books, and generally exude a sense of indie author community awesomeness. But more often than not, these writers/bloggers, who are also struggling to get their name out there, bury themselves beneath their super awesome generosity. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve been to where the page is full of book covers and links, but there’s absolutely no way to tell whether it’s just the blogger being nice and helping out a fellow indie, or if it’s the blogger’s book. If this is you, make sure you have something obvious in your menu that leads people to your work. If you don’t like that idea, start another blog just for your own stuff and link to that.

The point is: you’re a writer, you want to sell your book. Don’t shy away from marketing yourself. A lot of people think that if you self-promote, the clock strikes midnight and you transform into some e-marketing whore. Sure, I guess that can happen… if you’re doing it wrong. If you’re spamming. If you have little to no common sense. But the cold hard truth of the matter is: if you don’t want to self-promote, you should probably get cracking on those queries and hope you get yourself a cushy publishing deal. Because unless you’re signed with Simon & Schuster, you’re not going to make it.

As an indie you market yourself. Nobody else is going to do it for you. And if nobody’s doing it, nobody’s buying it.

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20 thoughts on “Indie Self-Promotion: If Nobody’s Doing It, Nobody’s Buying It.

  1. Lucky for me I’m an Indie author you wouldn’t find disagreeable (mostly.) I’ll admit I’m the type that finds that marketing leaves a bad taste in my mouth (weird considering half of my major is business.) So far I mainly use twitter and my blog to promote the book. I’m only about two and a half weeks in and so far sales are pretty dismal, but then ya can’t expect much different, haha.

    If I could have done it over again, I would have started to talk about my first book months ago, putting out little snippets on my blog and all that. And I would have started my Twitter account months ago. As it stands I’m playing catch up but so far I suppose I’m not doing too bad. There’s a learning curve and just because a book doesn’t sell well right away doesn’t mean it won’t sell.

    Funnily enough, I don’t think my marketing has done anything at all to sell the books. For the most part it’s been family and friends, or random people on Amazon that I don’t know haha.

    But that doesn’t mean the marketing won’t pay off. And I think doing movie and book reviews could help to sell a book if you review stuff in your genre. I write things I’d like to read, and I am guessing that if I review thinks other people wrote that I liked I will attract like minded people who will enjoy my book. *shrugs* I don’t know; I’m new at all this haha

    • I think there’s definitely something to be said for promoting too much… but I think that every Indie out there should be doing SOME form of self-promotion… even if it’s little more than a blog about… whatever. Self-promotion, in my opinion, is a lot like sending out a tweet into the world. Sure, it may get ignored at first… but eventually someone will take notice, someone will remember, and someone will pass your name on to someone else.

      Great comment. Thanks for it. 🙂

      • Welcome! And one other thing: I hold stubbornly to the fact that if what you have written is good, it will be recognized. All the marketing in the world doesn’t matter if the product sucks, haha.

        Of course as for what is ‘good’ that’s up to the reader. I wouldn’t say people like Glenn Beck or Stephanie Meyer are ‘good’ but their position on the best seller list and mine at 12 sales total says different, at least to the public so far 😉

      • I agree and disagree. While all the marketing in the world won’t make something substandard better than it is, there are thousands of great books that fall through the cracks each year. If you’re in the indie market, it’s your job to do what you can to make your novel stand out… and yes, things like a good cover is part of marketing your book. Can an amazing book be discovered without any marketing at all? Sure. Is it likely that it will? No. The literary market is over-saturated as it is, and people don’t read ‘just anything’… let alone just because the author says it’s great.

        So yeah, you’re right… just because you have great marketing doesn’t mean a sub-par piece of work becomes better than it is. But no marketing at all can, and probably will, banish the best books into the shadows… and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make a living off of my writing while I’m alive rather than after I’m dead. 😉

  2. Well said Queen Seed. I most definitely agree. I use the powers of sarcasm to attract the unwary. I do have prominent links several
    places on my blog, but no book cover on the sidebar. I shall have to
    remedy that.

    Great work can’t sell itself–until people start reading it. And even then it needs a push. Marketing oneself doesn’t need to feel dirty. I just try to show enthusiasm for my universe and my characters. That’s dead easy.

    Carry on!

    • Weeell, if you stop to consider that a novel is a lot like a writer’s child, sure… my baby is for sale, but once you buy it, I’d rather not get it back. 😉

  3. Great tips, I’m still writing my first, so I talk about it on my blog, but I have nothing to really advertise yet. I have a stronger following on Twitter, but then again, I rarely talk about my book on Twitter, I just talk to people and every once in a while announce a post on my blog. I need to start up a website for myself… Now to find that book, Websites for Dummies.

    • Yeah, in this post I’m actually talking about people who have their stuff up for sale on Amazon and B&N, and yet you can’t find links to their stuff anywhere. It’s really baffling, but I’ve run into it so many times that it’s like some Twilight Zone phenomenon. If you already have a blog and aren’t even done with your book yet, you’re well on your way. 🙂

  4. I’m in the same boat as the last comment…still editing the book that I want to publish. I do throw out the title every once in a while on my blog, maybe comment about the characters and process of writing on Twitter, but not fully trying to market it obviously.
    To be honest I haven’t decided if I’m going to do the self-pub or try to endure the query route (ugh). Either way, once its out there, I intend to promote it at every opportunity. Its strange that a person wouldn’t have a link to the book after going through so much trouble to write, edit and publish. As always, great post 🙂

  5. It’s funny, I read this the other day and when you linked it on Twitter again, I read the whole thing again. I should be writing, but I couldn’t agree more. Now my blog has nothing, because I haven’t reached the point of having anything that’s ready to be put up. I assure you that I will have some marketing of myself on my blog and links to buy and to my website (once I set it up). I’m no master of marketing, but I know what get’s my attention, and when I look at a writer’s blog, I want to know if they published so I can buy their book if they have one. If they don’t make it obvious there, I probably won’t hunt for it. I don’t book hunt. I buy what I run across that looks interesting.

      • Thanks TL, and I couldn’t agree more. At this point the ‘lack of book presence’ problem is more of an annoyance that makes me roll my eyes than anything else. I don’t get it. It’s probably the dumbest oversight an indie can make.

  6. Pingback: How To Publish Your Ebook, Pt. 1: The Road Ahead « 21st Century Author

  7. Strange question. Do you think someone who is writing their first novel should wait on starting a blog/website until after they have published it? Will it be bad for traffic if you have a blog that essentially says ‘hey, I am writing a novel, it will be out soon’ or do you think it is good to establish yourself before-hand?

    • Hi Matt. I started my blog long before my book was out, though at the time that I started it, it was already completed and publishing was a 100% guarantee for me. If this is your first novel and you’re just starting to write it, I would hold off until you’re done with your first draft. We all write at a different pace, and tending to a blog for a year or more (if that’s how long it takes you to write the first draft) would be tedious, not to mention it would eat up time that you should be spending on writing, not blogging. If you’re already done with the first draft, go for it. Blogging is a great way to gather an audience.

      My advice to you is to sign up for Twitter ASAP. Start building relationships there with other writers and potential readers. This will give you a platform to jump from when you’re finally releasing your first book. Twitter is an invaluable tool for an indie author.

      Best of luck on your journey! And feel free to connect with me on Twitter @aniaahlborn 🙂

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