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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rethinking Your Marketing Strategies

The self-publishing world changes so fast, even the self-publishing world can't keep up. Does that make any sense? The things that worked a year ago no longer apply, in many cases. Sometimes what worked last month doesn't seem to work today.

Facebook and Twitter are not dead ends for promotion. but they need to be handled correctly. Yes, Hootsuite is awesome for automating posts. I don't recommend you use it that way, unless each post is hand-crafted and compelling. Simply shoveling links onto it is not going to get people interested in your books.

Instead, you should try to engage readers on a one-to-one basis. In other words, be an interesting person, apart from your writing. Reading, like writing, is an intensely personal endeavor. If you make promotion impersonal, you run the risk of actually driving readers away.

If you have a mailing list, you should only use it to announce new books to readers. They don't need to hear about every free run you do. Trust me, they already know about your back catalog, at that point.

Kindle Select doesn't seem to be working very well, anymore. It may seem thrilling to give away five thousand copies of a novel. but the sad truth is, most of them won't even be read. Worse yet, some of them will be read by people who really aren't interested in your work, or the genre itself. This can only lead to bad things, like negative or lackluster reviews.

My books started out with a lot of promise a year ago, and have gone steadily downhill ever since. Looking back, I can see why things began so well. I got review copies into the hands of a number of interested bloggers and book reviewers. When you dump tons of copies onto the market, it becomes very hit and miss.

Things have shifted to the point that many successful indie writers are moving to paid advertising, and are no longer interested in giving books away. This makes a lot of sense, as oftentimes, something that's free doesn't have much value. A person who pays for your ebook, even at $.99, is much more likely to actually read your work, not to mention review it. I daresay someone that pays $2.99 for your ebook is almost definitely going to read it.

And that's what you want, readers. Free downloads may lend you some visibility, initially, but it's a bit of a false economy. Ten ebooks placed in the hands of people who will actually enjoy them and review them favorably are worth much more than ten thousand delivered in a scatter-shot manner. You'll find that eventually your reviews will reflect this.

In fact, if you're really serious, you'll put paper copies in the hands of reviewers. This opens you up to many more avenues of promotion, as there are a lot of book reviewers that only review paperbacks.

Do your research. I see a lot of new authors who are emulating what worked for others in the past. But things are changing rapidly. Instead of following last year's advice, take a look at what successful indie authors are doing today. In most cases, you'll find that they're ahead of the curve for a reason. They're leading, not following.