Self-Marketing for the Self-Publisher

By John Focht

The challenge for most first-time self-publishers is trying to sell their book once they complete writing it.  A number of first-time authors either don’t have a marketing plan, or face a fear of feeling like a sleazy salesperson trying to sell their book.

As a self-publisher, creating a marketing plan for your book is critical.  Unlike the traditional publishing route, as a self-publisher it is all on you to make people know who you are and know that you wrote a book.  As a great as your first book may be, as a no-name author, your book is not going to sell itself.

Start with your own network of family and friends.  As a first-time author, the chances are pretty good that most of your family and friends will buy a copy of your book in support of your accomplishment.

Don’t be shy about going old-school in today’s fast-paced, technological world, as word-of-mouth marketing is still a great way to sell, and more important, it’s free.  By spreading the word to your family and friends, they are almost sure to also tell friends and family on their other-halves side about your work.

The word-of-mouth campaign will be sure to gain you a couple leads you otherwise would not have had without your network of family and friends, so talk to them as they will wind up being your biggest marketing channel.

Today’s world, with the ease of creating your own website, and the use of social media outlets, allows you a channel of marketing that did not exist even a decade ago.  In preparation for your book, create a website that publicizes you as the author.  Start creating a buzz around your name.  On the homepage of your website, create a bio of yourself.  Be sure to provide some information about your book and provide an estimated published date.  Even if you don’t know what this date is yet, put it on your website.  You can always go back and edit it.

If you are not hooked onto social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or professional network sites like Linked-In, do so now.

Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that can quickly provide you traction in getting your book publicity.  It’s very similar to the word-of-mouth campaign that you have also launched, except this word-of-mouth is over the internet.

Facebook will allow you to create a page for your book, or you can even use your own personal Facebook page to market your book.  All your connections will know of your book in an instant and can further assist you by “Liking” your book.  Use Twitter to market your book to your followers.

Linked-In is a professional networking site where you can connect with former co-workers and colleagues.  Update your profile as an author and link to your website.

Once your book is published, create a press release and publish it on your website, Linked-In page, and Facebook page.  Send your press release to local newspapers.  As part of your marketing your plan, be sure you are distributing your PR to as many media outlets as possible.  Most local media outlets, particularly home town newspapers, will list a press release for local authors on their website or in their newspaper.

If your book is being sold through Amazon, provide a link to it from your website, Linked-In profile, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.  Generate a buzz on your website and your social media outlets that your book is now published and for sale.

Also, contact local bookstores and request to sign copies of your book at their store.  Most bookstores will accommodate requests from local authors.  Book signings, no matter the author, stirs up added business for bookstores too, so they are usually willing to oblige.

Communicate through your web and social media channels when and where you are doing books signings.  Book signing are great way to draw interest from friends and family who may not have seen you in a while.  Former co-workers from years past, or old college friends may see your press release or read of your book signing and stop in for a copy.

Finally, create some business cards with either your website or the name of your book.  Hand it out to anyone and everyone you come in contact with. Make sure people know you are an author and your first-book is now published.

Breaking the barriers of marketing a book for first-time authors is tough.  Getting in the mindset of making your name a brand name is critical in getting your book out there.  Create a stir about you.  Get people talking about you.


How to Write a Book

By John Focht

This title sounds simple enough; especially if you are a writer.  Just open a new Word doc, give it a title and start typing away.

Is it that simple though?  For many writers and authors, getting a book started is a lengthy process of researching story lines, ideas, and characters that fit best their story.  Even before typing a single letter, there is quite a bit of prep work required in this process.   For some, this is a very effective means of writing a book.

Other authors, though, go the old school way and simply sit, type and see what it looks like at the end.

While still others go through a process of writing, reading, re-writing and re-reading their story as it evolves; incorporating their entire writing, editing, and proofreading process into an inter-twined writing process.

Writing a book can be a challenging endeavor, particularly for first-time authors.  Trying to get the perfect match of story line and characters can be an ever-evolving process throughout the whole writing cycle.

When writing a first book, authors should focus beforehand on what the general idea and story line of what their book is about.  This sounds simple enough, and it should be.  Creating an outline of the book will enable authors to get a good sense of what they are looking to achieve in their book.  Whether the book is a fictional story, a screen play, a reference book, or a non-fictional book, creating an outline provides would-be authors a good sense and vision of their own story line and plots.

Once an outline is created, start the writing process.  With a general outline in place, the writer will be able to flow through the path that they outlined for themselves.  Of course as writes begin getting into the details of their story, and the plots and sub-plots begin to develop, the path of the initial story may take sudden twists and turns that weren’t initially planned.  That’s ok, continue with the writing.

Writers should keep an eye on the initial outline though to see how the new story line still fits into what was initially planned.  If not, perhaps re-review and update the outline.  While writers don’t want to lose the creative juices, they still want to have a general sense and purpose of the overall story.

Of course there is no harm to sitting and writing – it’s similar to the old golf adage “grip it and rip it”.  As in golf, sometimes overthinking the process too much may cause a case of writers block as authors try to write a story that fits an outline.  Authors and writers don’t want to block themselves into a rigid outline, but they also don’t want to get to the end of their book and realize that they have taken the story in a few different directions and nothing ties together.

The “grip it and rip it” vs. outline approach will generally come down to individual authors styles and likes and dislikes.  Experience level may also dictate what type of approach an author may take in writing their book.  The outline approach may work best with first-time authors, but not as well anymore with more experienced authors.

And of course there are the writers who are in the constant write, edit, and re-write cycle throughout their entire writing process.  This sounds like a complicated process, but as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Some very successful authors and writers create their work in this fashion.  If you fall into his category, you’re on your own with this one.


Self-Publishing a Book? The Job doesn’t end when you Finish Typing

By John Focht

Writing a book goes well beyond the words on a completed manuscript.  For some, the writing of the actual book is the easy part.  The challenge lies once the last punctuation mark is struck on your manuscript.

Once you’ve finished your writing manuscript or book, unless you were lucky enough to have struck a book deal beforehand and are working with a publicist, it’s time to find yourself a publishers.

For most first-time authors, this challenge is a brick wall.  Researching publishers who specialize in the genre of your book is a bit of a labor-intensive job.  After all, you don’t want to just submit your finished book to a publisher who specializes in publishing cookbooks if your book is a fictional romance story.

Start with researching local publishers in your area and try to zero in on the ones who specialize in your book’s genre.  If you do not find a local publisher, expand your search nationally.  The world is a small-enough place these days with technology that you can easily submit your manuscript electronically and communicate with publishers across the country.

Unfortunately, just because you have located a publisher does not necessarily mean your book is on its way to being edited, proofread, and prepped for print.

Once you’ve successfully located a publisher, the challenge now lies in getting them to actually read your book.  Some publishers will respond to you that your manuscript is in a six-month queue and they will let you know in the coming months if they will even read it.  Others may respond that they are no longer accepting manuscripts for the current calendar year, or for the next 6-9 months.

Still want to write a book?

Unfortunately, unless you are already a well-established author, or know of someone in the publishing industry who can get you started, or, well, maybe you are just rich and famous and publishers will pay you to write a book, getting your first book off the ground is still quite a feat.

Independent authors have a little more flexibility these days in getting books self-published than waiting around for a publisher in the hopes one of them read their manuscript.

Self-publishing is a facet of today’s world that has opened the door to first-time authors.  No longer are authors waiting around for publishers.  Authors now have the opportunity to take their finished book all the way home themselves.

A couple quick caveat’s before you rush to the printer though.  A failure point with most first-time authors and self-publishing is the notion that they can simply submit a completed manuscript to be published.  While that can be done, an author who goes the self-publishing route needs to now take into consideration editing, proofreading, interior and exterior book design, and marketing.

Still want to write a book?

Where a traditional publisher would work with the author on these tasks, an independent author who self-publishes his or her book needs to take these tasks upon themselves.

With the advent of self-publishers, there has also been the recent growth of small editing and proofreading agencies that can assist self-publishers through the editing and proofreading stage.  Some can even assist with book design and marketing plans, or at the very least, they typically partner with other small agencies who can assist in this part of your book process.

Hiring a third party to edit and proofread your book prior to publication is still vital to the success of your book.  Just because you are self-publishing don’t skimp on this important task.  It only takes one bad review to ruin months or years of work.  Don’t let silly typos or grammatical errors ruin your book because you were trying to save a few bucks on cost.  You’ve gone this far, do it the right way.

Consider exterior and interior (if applicable) book design.  You can’t judge a book by its cover, but if it looks cheap, odds are no one will care what’s in it or not.  Work with the editing agency you hired.  If they don’t do that type of work, they certainly can refer you to an agency that will.

And possibly the most important aspect of self-publishing, besides the actual book itself, of course is marketing.  How are you going to sell this master piece of yours?

You can’t come all this way and not have a marketing plan.  Your book will go nowhere fast if you haven’t considered how to sell it.

Considering you are a first-time author, you are going to have to rely on selling YOU more than the book itself at first – and I’m not talking about prostituting yourself out here.

You will need to begin treating your own name as a brand name.  Get people to buy into you more than the book on this one.  As a first-time author, not too many people aside from family, friends and acquaintances are going to even know you have written a book.  Get in front of your book so it doesn’t get buried on the back bookshelf of the neighborhood bookstores.

Create a marketing plan that focuses on selling you as a brand name.  Focus on the following:

  • Create a website or a blog to post references of your book – get people reading about it and about you.
  • Include a bio on your website – again, you are branding your own name here and want people to know who you are (this will help you as you move onto book #2 later).
  • Send press releases to local papers.  Even a two sentence write-up in a local or city paper may generate with someone who knew you from a previous job, school, or whatever.
  • Use social media to your advantage.  If you are not linked to social media websites, get on them now.
  • Use social media to let family, friends, acquaintances, former co-workers know of your book.  Networking is a key to success on this first book.  People you know will tell people they know.  Generate a buzz about you which will generate a buzz about your book.
  • Print business cards with your name and your book name.  Hand them out to everyone you meet.  Act like a salesperson and the product you are selling is you and your book.
  • Schedule some book-signing tour’s at local bookstores.  You’d be surprised how much extra business you drum up when people you know see you at a bookstore signing books of your first book.  Many old faces will be glad to grab a book and say congratulations.  Also you will generate interest from local people who know you or know your family.  People will be excited for you which will help in the buzz locally on your book.
  • Be sure your marketing plan addresses a larger plan than just neighborhood and network marketing.  Depending on your budget, you might need to consider more outside help.

As a great a job as your first book will be, your marketing plan should focus a bit more on creating a brand name for you which will create interest in your book.

So, publishing that first book is a lot of work, particularly if you go the self-publishing route.  Get ready to get roll up your sleeves because now that that you’ve finished writing your book, the real work is about to start.