That's The Way To Do It.... Or Is It? The Indie-Published Writer's Guide to Self-Promotion. A Guest Blog by Emma Davies.

Posted on 24th May, 2015

I am delighted to welcome Emma Davies bck to my blog. Emma is the indie-published author of Letting in Light, which, at time of writing, has received twenty-two 5-star reviews and six 4-star reviews on Amazon. Today Emma is going to discuss a topic that is very close to the hearts of all indie-published writers - promoting the novel.

One thing I have learned since becoming a self-published author is that there are almost as many opinions or how to market yourself and your book as there are self-published books. There is a world of information out there; a large number of self-appointed experts and a large number of people like me who are, largely, winging it. There are also a large number of people, running their own businesses who, in return for payment, promise to put your book into the hands of everyone in the land. I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about which of these avenues of advice you wish to follow, but personally I have a very cynical view of these companies and I might be missing a huge trick here, but basically I’ve decided that what often seems to be too good to be true, probably is, and I’ll steer well clear. There is no quick and easy route to success, but think about it, doesn’t that make it all the more worthwhile?

The one thing we do all agree on is the need for self-promotion; without it you are sunk, lost without trace, and completely and utterly invisible. If you are a traditionally published author, your book has instant credibility and from day one you are pretty much guaranteed sales. If your publisher says buy this book, it’s great, people’s response is often, Oh yes please. Try that same scenario as a self-published author; buy this book it’s great, and eyes will start to narrow in suspicion.Why should I buy this book, I don’t know you. I’m not going to take your word for it.

I’m not saying that all readers are like this, in fact my own experience of connecting with readers as an indie author has been nothing but supportive and hugely rewarding, but in general the industry of self-published books is still viewed largely with mistrust. I do think this opinion may be changing though, and there is a swell of evidence to suggest it; in fact the announcement from the Romantic Novelists’ Association that they will soon be accepting self-published authors into their ranks is a huge leap forward in this regard.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not bemoaning our plight, there are huge rewards to being a self-published author, and my own view is that self-promotion and marketing is part of the job, part of the package and like it or loathe it you just need to roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

I definitely fall into the ‘love it’ camp. I really enjoy coming up with new ideas for posts, tag lines etc and derive a huge sense of achievement from the fact that Letting in Light has been charting in Amazon’s bestsellers lists for a couple of months now, and I put it there. It recently peaked at number 50 in the Literary Fiction, Romance chart alongside books by Lindsey Kelk, Jane Green and Kate Moreton. I know it’s a relatively minor chart, but no one is going to take away my own sense of delight in what has already been achieved, and what I know is yet to come.

I have worked hard, continually, chasing down every sale, following up as many avenues as I can, and every night when I get home from work and the chores are done I think book, book, book. I would love at times to have a day off from this, but I know that I can’t, and importantly I know that I won’t. Maybe that’s why there is so much information about self-promotion, because it is unrelentingly hard, and anything which makes it easier must be worth looking at, after all what we really should be doing is writing books!

I don’t have all the answers, far from it, and often when I read something which makes sense and try to follow its advice, I read something else which is completely contradictory. I have therefore come to the conclusion that you should be prepared to experiment and see what works for you. There might be some general rules to follow but I don’t believe it’s black and white by any means. There is only one way to fail and that is to do nothing.

There are however a couple of things which have been very beneficial to me and I pass them on in the spirit of, well just throwing it out there really;

It’s really useful to see whether what you’re doing is having any effect and one way to do this is to monitor the number of click throughs you get from your links. The easiest way to do this is through sites such as SmartUrl. These sites generate a universal ink for your Amazon sales page for example, so that irrespective of the country where the click originates from the ‘clickee’ will be taken to their own country’s version of that page. It saves having to post links from every country’s Amazon site but perhaps more importantly it gives you a whole load of statistical information for free, such as the number of click throughs. When I did this I was amazed at the number of hits the links achieved, over 500 in a few days. Now of course this is not a guarantee of a sale (would that it were!) but getting folks to your page is half the battle. It also allows you to see where clicks have come from, be it Twitter or Facebook etc so you can see which platform is working better for you, and indeed which individual posts might be performing better than others. What it did allow me to discover was that my ‘inviting messages’ were being read, and acted upon, and this alone has proved hugely invaluable.

This is one of the reasons why I changed my book cover, finally taking the plunge and having a professionally designed cover. I didn’t want anything to put off potential impulse buyers landing on my page, and felt that my old cover simply did not have enough kerb appeal. You can read more about my foray into e-book covers on a recent blog post here.

The other tool which I find really useful is Tweetdeck. As I work full time, there is no way that I could post during the day without it. Tweetdeck allows you to schedule posts ahead of time so that I can set up a day’s worth the night before, and whatever I’m doing I know I’m covered. You can also view all your types of Twitter feed from one application, be it notifications, your home feed, and scheduled posts.

I am also a great fan of the Twitter list function, an underused and underrated tool I have discovered, but it’s a brilliant way of keeping on top of the posts you might want to see more often or at a glance. For example you might wish to have a list for your top tweeters, so that if time is short you can dip in and just look at tweets from these people without having to scroll through loads of others. Set your lists to private though so they are just for your use. What’s more, Tweetdeck can show you all your lists in separate columns so you can view them all as if they were separate twitter feeds.

Above all, whatever you do, remember that a lot of self-promotion takes place via social media; the clue is in the name. Take time to establish yourself as a credible writer with something to say, keep it social, and above all just enjoy yourself!

I am delighted to welcome Emma Davies back to my blog. Emma is the indie-published author of Letting in Light, which, at the time of writing, has received twenty-two 5-star reviews and six 4-stars on Amazon. Today Emma is going to share her experiences of promoting her novel.

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Comments (4)

Very helpful tips, Emma. To some extent, I think the points you made about promotion apply to most authors, whether indie or traditionally published. Extent of promotion will, of course, vary depending on how much the traditionally published author is supported by their publisher, and the size of that publisher.

I've recently discovered Twitter lists and now wonder how I used Twitter without them.
Thanks Wendy and Susanna for your very generous comments. Much of what I have learned over recent months has been from other writers and bloggers. It's such a supportive community and I'm so grateful for all the help and advice given to me. Pass it on I say!
I'm pleased you enjoyed Emma's article, Wendy. Until I read it, I had never thought of how useful the Twitter lists could be. Thanks for your comment.
Thank you Emma. Having self-published my short story collections, I know how important promotion is and I'm sure other readers of your post will find your advice really useful. I too use Tweetdeck and lists.