The big upside to self-publishing is that your book is never off the shelves. It remains available in paperback and E-book format until the internet is nudged aside by the new thing. So all you really have to do is give it a fair-wind of a launch and it will keep notching up sales until Judgement Day.
As if. Anyone who has self-published will tell you that line of thinking belongs in the Fantasy Section. I remember an email conversation with Irish novelist and blogger, Declan Burke. I giddily told Declan I was self-publishing. He warned me that the amount of promotion required would stifle my other writing. I didn’t listen. Now I have a new motto – Should have Listened to Declan.
The truth is that for 99.9% of self-published authors, our books will only keep selling if we keep promoting them. (I like to imagine there is a .1% of writers out there who make a fortune by going viral after a week – that keeps the dream alive.) Anyone who has been around for a while will tell you the best way to promote your first book is to write your second book. The conundrum is how to keep your first book in the limelight while writing that second book.
There are a few things you can do. Here is what has helped me keep sales ticking over without eating into valuable writing time.
Goodreads Giveaway: If you are not a registered author on Goodreads, then do it the minute you finish this article. This is the one social media site that is guaranteed to connect you to readers across the globe. A quick and easy way to connect with potential readers is put your book up for a Goodreads giveaway. It takes a minute to set it up. All you need to do is specify the duration of the competition and how many books you want to give away. Your book then goes up on the popular Goodreads giveaway section, where readers can enter with a simple click. 661 people entered my last giveaway for two books – a lot of them added it to their To Read list. (That doesn’t mean they will read it – but it does appear on their Goodreads page, so there is some sliver of publicity for each one.) Goodreads picked out the winners and gave me their details so I could post them out a copy of Keep Away from Those Ferraris. All in all, it cost me about $10. Better still, one of the two winners posted a very positive review on Goodreads and Amazon. Which brings me to the next trick.
Get another Review: Most people focus their review activity at launch time. I spent a lot of time compiling a spreadsheet of potential blog reviewers who might be interested in a comedy thriller. I emailed a bunch of them with a personal message and a polite request for review. I didn’t get all the way through the list for launch, but that’s ok. About four months after launch, I took a deep breath and picked up where I left off on the list. (It’s tedious work. I found that a packet of Custard Creams eased the pain. I’d be nowhere without Custard Creams.) This led to two or three new reviews, which give me some visibility across the blog-review world and led to a nice spike in sales. So hold on to your review spreadsheet. And don’t forget the Custard Creams.
Sale on Now: I don’t want to get into a big discussion on pricing here, because I haven’t got time to write 70,000 words, and that’s what it would take to do it justice. Here’s what I will say. People like to hear the news that they can get your E-book for 99p. The news is just as important as the price. It allows you to say something new to your followers on Facebook, Twitter et al. With any luck they’ll share the news with their followers (particularly if you shared their promotions) and you’ll deliver a satisfying kick in the pants to your sales lull. I lowered my E-book price to 99p/99c for the summer and it kept things ticking over nicely.
Go the Pub: Sometimes you just need to go to the pub. The owner of my local is going to put a few copies of Keep Away from those Ferraris for sale behind the bar. So if you happen into Callanan’s on George’s Quay in Cork, you know what to do. If you have a rapport with the owner of a pub or other retail outlet, why not ask if they’d like to sell something local. It beats trying to get your book into a bookshop, where it can disappear among the other titles. It also gives you a chance to remind your social media followers that your book is still alive and kicking. And it’s a great excuse to go for a pint.
(c) Pat Fitzpatrick
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