Wednesday, June 12, 2013

INDIE LIFE: Overwhelmed by Marketing and Promotion? I am! (and what to do about it)

by Elle Strauss

You've written a great book, polished it up, got a cool cover.

Now what?

How do you get your baby into the hands of all those zillions of people dying to read it? They can't read something they've never heard about, right? How do you get your book in front of your readers?

I wish I had an easy answer. If you've been in the self-publishing world for any length of time (for me, it's been 1 year and 9 months, an eternity in self-publishing years), you'll know that the rules keep CHANGING. And I mean fast.

What worked last month  doesn't seem to work this month. Just when you think you have a handle on the "how to's" of promotion, it changes. It's enough to drive an indie author mad.

For instance last year I price matched Clockwise free. I let Pixel of Ink know, they picked it up right away, and voila, major sales push on the other Clockwise series books that lasted for months. Great! I thought. I'll I have to do is put the first book free, let POI know, and I'm rockin' it.

Except, it's not that easy to get picked up by POI anymore. In fact, it's quite hard. And you can't buy spots. It's a total crap shoot, now, and you can't count on it.

Also, at that time the Amazon monkeys tallied a free sale with the same weight as a paid sale. They've since changed it to 10 free downloads = one sale, which means it takes far more free downloads to get the same high speed traction as it did a year ago.

Like I said, change.

So, you put your ear to the wind. What is everyone else doing now. The clamor gets loud, quick.

Twitter, Facebook pages, google+, tumbler, pinterest, newsletters, giveaways, blog tours, street teams, paid advertising, teasers, picture teasers,  reviews, reviews, reviews! You must do it ALL!

Join me as I hide under my covers.

Okay, I'm going to give some practical advice.

1. Breathe
2. Give yourself plenty of time. There's a lot of pressure for indie-authors to produce and publish fast.
3. Realize that each book you write is different, and the publishing scene at the time of each release will be different.
4. Understand that some things take time, like building a twitter/facebook following and a newsletter list.
5. Don't panic.
6. Take a step back and make a list of things you feel you could/should do for the title in question and make a marketing/promo list. It will probably be different from the last book you promoted and different from the next one.
7. Work the list.
8. Take another breath and write the next book.

What kinds of things can be on your promo list?

Well, something that gets the word out, right?

1. Find early readers who will leave a review. Sometimes you might want to hire out, ie: a blog tour service, and other times you will want to take the time to contact book reviewers yourself. A good way to find book reviewers is to join a blog hop. Kathy at I Am a Reader, hosts a lot. If you want to hire a blog tour service, Giselle at Xpresso Tours, does a great job at organizing tours and cover reveals at reasonable prices. Reviews are especially important on Amazon.

2. Paid advertising. Lots of authors have had good results with Bookbub (though I've heard it's getting harder to book a spot) and Kindle Nation Daily/BookGodzilla. 
These kind of paid sites can be on the pricey side, plus you usually have to qualify with a certain rating and number of reviews.

A cheaper option is to pay for promotion on Facebook. You don't reach the same kind of numbers, but for the price (5-20.00), it's good exposure.

3. Let your followers know. As long as you mix your tweets, facebook posts, etc, up with other news, it's okay to tell people you have a new book for sale. They are following you (as an author) for a reason, right? Being part of a writing group really helps with this. When you post for each other, your reach grows exponentially. If you can't find one to join, then start one yourself!(link to Galley Cat)

4. Contests. An easy way to start is to offer a book on Goodreads (make sure you list your books there, even if you don't offer a contest). For the price of postage, you are getting word out about your book to a lot of potential new fans. This option is only available for books in print.

Use rafflecopter to offer prizes that will entice potential fans to follow you on twitter, facebook, etc, and sign up for a newsletter. Don't have a newsletter? I recommend Mail Chimp. It's pretty user friendly and free until you reach 2000 sign ups.

Those are the basics.

For more advanced advice on getting your book noticed, I recommend LET'S GET VISIBLE, by David Gaughran.

INdieReCon Marketing Mania is on right now! IndieReCon brings you a mini-marketing know-how blitz! Featuring articles and workshops from CJ Lyons, Georgia McBride, KP Simmons and Penny Sansevieri. Check it out!

How about you? Have you tried something that really worked for you? Please, do tell!

Elle Strauss writes fun, lower YA fiction (time-travel and fantasy). She's married with four children and divides her time between British Columbia, Canada, and Dresden, Germany. She also writes upper YA (historical and science fiction) as LEE Strauss. To find out more about Elle and her books check out her facebook page, and follow her on twitter. To find out about new releases sign up for her newsletter at .

Check out other Indie Life posts on the list below.


  1. I'm so with you here, Laura! I've done everything you've done - in fact I talk about making my books free over on my blog today. Marketing / promotion is the most difficult thing about being an author (indie or not) but the best thing is the support we get from our 'colleagues'.
    Have you got your own street team? That's something I started a few months ago which really helps :D
    Shoot me a message if you fancy being interviewed on my blog.
    Good luck!
    Suzy Turner, YA Author

  2. Taking breaks from marketing works for me. I usually to that in Jan/Feb and just do a few ads. Also, I remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day.

  3. Great job with the break down. I think sometimes authors think their book sells based on their marketing efforts but sometimes I wonder if that has nothing to do with it. :) Just coincidence. Other than seeing direct results with something like Bookbub or going free.

  4. Thanks for all the tips, Elle! It does get overwhelming - my first book is coming out this summer, and the thought of marketing/promoting it nearly has me in hives some days. Breaking it down like this is so helpful.

  5. My best success has been with lowering the price or making the book free, then contacting sites that list free/bargain books. BookGorilla is a fairly new e-mail service; I've had some slight success with it.

  6. Breathe! I forgot that one. ;) Thanks for he reminder, Elle.
    And great tips!

  7. Great tips, Elle. The other thing is that what works in one genre or sub-genre doesn't necessarily work in another. But patience is so important. One of the biggest advantages of Indie is "the long tail" of sales--you don't have to break out big in the first few months or your book simply dies a quiet death. There's time to build audience. And I agree with Laura, that sometimes marketing efforts don't have a direct correlation with sales.

  8. What a fab resource ! I'm bookmarking this page. Thanks Elle! :)

  9. This resource is amazing! I love it, thank you Elle. And your tips are fabulous. I use BookBub and LOVE them. They've made a huge difference for me.

  10. Great tips and yes remaining calm is important when overwhelmed by all the changes in both life and indie marketing.

  11. Such a great breakdown, Elle. You're awesome. =)

  12. I wanted to submit to a publisher, but one of the things besides the query and sample chapters is a marketing and promotions plan. Outside of the blogs - and that only sales to other authors - I don't have a lot of time or energy to expend on searching out readers and hoping someone will buy the novel. Kudos to all those authors that can put themselves out there like this.


  13. Lots of great information here. Thanks!