I’m new to this. My first two books, both non-fiction, were published years ago when there was no social media, no one self-published, the publisher promoted, and barely anyone knew what the word “blog” meant. I’d worked in public relations decades past, but the world is different now than it was then, and my marketing skills were obsolete.
So, when Cozy Cat Press released my first book of fiction, Murder in the Museum: An Edmund DeClerykMysterylast spring, I panicked. I simply did not know how to promote my book in the multitude of ways that are available to authors these days. I had no social media presence nor a website. The learning curve was long and steep, and I had to convince myself that promoting my book wasn’t self-promotion, it was book promotion. No promo, no sales.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
I took a deep breath. Rather than trying to do it myself, I hired someone to design and manage my website. My husband became my business manager, and we scheduled a book launch party. I activated relevant social media accounts and began posting. I reached out to experts for advice: a cousin, also an author, who is adept at using social media to promote her own book; a well-known blogger in my genre (Cozy mysteries); other Cozy Cat authors; a contact who steered me to Ladies of Mystery, a site where I now blog once a month.
Still, my first attempts at marketing were haphazard and time-consuming. I had no time to begin writing the second book in the series and felt very discouraged. Were the books selling? Yes, thanks to living in a community that supports local authors and a widespread group of friends and family. And, I suppose, my erratic online social media postings were somewhat successful. But I was stressed and having no fun. Something had to change. I needed a plan.
PLAN AND SCHEDULE
I decided to spend two days a week marketing and the rest of the week writing or doing other things I like to do. A weekly schedule, planned two months out, contains a list of tasks to accomplish for each day. These include press releases sent to local media outlets; inquiries to magazines and online sites that review books; bi-weekly posts on social media that include book excerpts, special sales and giveaways; links to or re-postings of reviews and to my blog and website; descriptions of characters; scenic photos; and a link to the outlets where the book is being sold. I’ve joined multiple private and public Facebook forums for writers and others for authors and readers of Cozy mysteries.
Blogs relate to the writing process, research, marketing efforts, to name a few. Facebook boosts, targeted to a specific demographic, have been particularly effective as an advertising tool, and they’re inexpensive. Calls to book stores, museums, gift shops, historical societies and libraries have resulted in enthusiastic response for selling the book and scheduling speaking engagements. An uptick in sales seems to be related to my efforts, and I’m feeling more confident. It appears that sticking to the plan makes a world of difference.
REMEMBER, ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY
There’s truth to the old saw, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and it applies to marketing efforts by authors.
There’s always plenty to do, but what I’ve learned is not everything has to happen right now.
I’m going to write a quarterly newsletter and schedule an online blog tour. I’ll become a member of crime and mystery writers’ organizations and explore other options for advertising like Robin Reads, Books Butterfly and The Fussy Librarian. I’ll get better at Twitter.
During the weeks I was struggling with how to market effectively, I emailed my publisher, Patricia Rockwell, multiple times for advice and support. After reassuring me, multiple times, that I was on the right track, she advised, “Stop. Take a deep breath. Enjoy the ride!” Good advice for any author.