‘You kind of have to whore yourself out.’
That’s something I said in a conversation with the owner of a Wexford independent bookshop when discussing marketing. He had been telling me how many of the self-published writers whose books he stocks are too shy to promote themselves further than their local area. How the hell is anyone going to know you have a book out if you only let close family and friends know about it?
Marketing may not guarantee sales, but at least it gives exposure to your work and people know about it. There is no room for wallflowers in publishing. Thousands of books are published everyday and good marketing can help your book stand out above the rest. This is easier for writers published with big companies like Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, who can afford huge marketing campaigns, or get you on Ireland AM and Today with Maura and Daithi. For the self published writer, you need to do a lot of legwork yourself.
The most difficult part of promoting yourself, I find, is getting the mainstream media on board. I went to the trouble of getting a press release done up and sent to a large number of media outlets throughout Ireland and the UK. Locally, I had to physically go to South East Radio’s HQ and ring up the front desk. ‘I’m actually outside right now,’ I said. I went in to hand the book personally to the lady at the desk and requested a phone interview with Alan Corcoran. At the time of my book launch, I emailed the reporter for the local newspaper only to get an automatic reply that he was on holidays. An alternative email address was given, which I resent the message to, but no response. I even slipped a postcard with my book cover on it inviting the paper to my launch. The week after I got a call from the original reporter saying sorry that it hadn’t been followed through and put on the photographer’s list to cover. A bloody disaster! I learned my lesson after that one to be far more vigilant to give adequate notice.
With a self publishing company, it is possible to get packages that include marketing materials such as posters, business cards and bookmarks, all designed to a professional finish. It looks good when you bring copies to a bookseller together with some posters and bookmarks. It impresses upon them that you mean business. You can get someone to design them for you, if they are also designing your cover. If operating on a DIY basis, if you are not a Photoshop wizard and able to design your own lettering, it can end up looking too much like something off of Microsoft Word and you don’t want that. You will need to invest.
Social Media is extremely useful with regard to marketing. Setting up a page on Facebook is easy enough, but be sure you rally your friends and family to like and follow the page. Boosting posts does cost a bit, but you need only pay maybe €1 per day. Target your ads. Who is your audience? What ages? Where are they? Spread your net wide at first, entering large cities as well as your locality. Include your target audience’s interests. Watch as your likes and follows grow. The spread out to other media platforms. The more you post, the less you have to spend to chase those followers and potential customers.
Joining social media groups is also important. You can pick up tips from other writers, quid pro quo posting of your book and opportunities you didn’t think possible before. Through one group I found out about a digital radio station that offers authors and other artists an opportunity to plug their work once a week for FREE. Chat and Spin Radio only ask for a small donation towards costs of producing (they operate a GoFundMe account for listeners).
There are also sites where you can get some nifty marketing materials. AllAuthor.com is a site where you can set up a free profile and get access to material to create seasonal banners, scheduled tweets and enter a Cover Of The Month competition. Most materials are only available on a premium plan, but there is plenty there in freebies. On the free plan you can also schedule up to 100 tweets a month. ShoutMyBook.com is another site dedicated to marketing your book online. You send the link to your book to them and for a fee as little as $14.99 they will search details of your book and created a feature for their site and tweet once a day for a month with a link to your Twitter account, so they can follow you.
To finish, such sites as Writing.ie has been a fantastic platform so far. I immediately availed of the advertising space offered free for two weeks, popping the link to my profile onto my Facebook page. I will have no qualms about sticking a link to this article – should it be published – all over my social media pages because that’s the thing: you have to be utterly shameless!
(c) Madeline Breen
About The Secret Lives Of Roses:
Una is a vibrant, outspoken commercial radio DJ who discovers she has cervical cancer. Pauline is her cousin, a mother of five kids under 12 and finds herself pregnant with number six. Claire was Pauline’s childhood friend. She now works as a nurse in a family planning clinic, dealing with IVF and more recently, abortion services. She has hit the menopause. Their stories converge in a modern Ireland, where ‘women’s problems’ are still handled badly by society, in spite of the country’s more liberal political landscape.
Order your copy online here.