By Christopher Angel -Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
You’ve just completed the manuscript to your novel. You’ve had friends and family proof-read it, maybe even a professional editor takes a pass. You’re ready to share your bouncing new baby with the world.
And you know there’s a few final things you have to take care of. The book cover is the obvious one. I spent a lot of time agonizing over the right image and font to represent my novel, The Mona Lisa Speaks (about the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre). I was fortunate, because I had a friend who is an expert at designing art book jacket covers who helped me out (check out her amazing work at here)
So, you have your cover art, so now you’re ready to publish right?
Well, hold on. Here’s the secret. I’m going to give it away right now.
Writing the book is only part one of a two-part job. And unfortunately, the skills of being a great writer only partly translate to the second job. Because these days, in our cluttered media space, being an author means you also have to become a marketing expert.
The good news is that many of the skills of a successful writer do translate to marketing — creativity, an ability to communicate clearly, a knack for the right turn of phrase, and staying organized and disciplined about your craft. And most of all, a passion for your subject matter.
However, changing hats from author to author/marketing expert can also feel jarring. Because you’re about to transition from a solitary struggle with your creativity to a very public struggle to connect with other people.
As an indie author, there are really no rules. Anything goes, and you should feel free to try just about anything, because getting attention is difficult. And the goal is to get people to read your book. Does your book feature a specific animal, like a rabbit? Find online clubs of rabbit fanciers. Is your book set in Alabama? Call the Alabama board of tourism and see if they will feature it on their website. Is there a community of people who might be interested in your subject matter? Find them, and do everything you can to meet them and engage with them.
Online tools make trying out of the box, creative marketing schemes much easier, but it’s also harder to get traction. When possible, try in person events like conventions and meetings first. And then supplement with online. Try to create events in your home town, or if you’re travelling, anywhere. Bookstore readings are traditional, but why limit yourself to bookstores, which are sadly an endangered species? Is your book about a chef? Try to have a reading in a restaurant. You get the idea — the old ways are limiting, and trying to connect with your audience is difficult and a crap shoot, so why limit yourself?
For my novel, The Mona Lisa Speaks, I had a lot of fun marketing the book. I set up a Twitter account for the Mona Lisa (@MonaLisaSpeaks) and tweeted in her voice (or the voice I had imagined for her in my novel). Then, I decided to create a mini-mystery on Twitter. I pretended that the Mona Lisa had been stolen, like in my novel, and tweeted out clues from her perspective over a three-day period. For people who guessed where she’d gone, I sent them e-books of my novel as a prize. It was very fun, and engaged a number of new readers.
So, authors, don’t be shy. Nobody else is going to have the passion and love for your novel that you have. It’s up to you to get the word out about your book. It can be a full-time job for weeks and weeks, which you need to plan for and support. And even then, you may not create a best-seller, but you will find supportive and appreciative readers, and hopefully you will have fun in the process.
Learn more about Christopher Angel here