Sometimes we take the whole DIY (do it yourself) movement just a little bit too far. There are many things you can do for yourself when it comes to promoting the sale of your self-published book, but there are several things that require help.
For example, if the only time you were artistically inclined was when you colored in your Barbie princess coloring book with your box of 24 Crayola crayons, you probably aren’t the best suited to design a cover for your book. Even with the most creative templates out there, having a professional graphic artist design your book cover will be an investment you’ll be grateful for many years into the future.
Let’s face it – although a picture is worth a 1,000 words – writers are better at the words than the pictures!
I have worked with authors in the process of self-publishing their books for many years and have seen the pain of those that have tried to do things on the shortest shoe strong possible. Remember Tim the Tool man Taylor and all of his misadventures trying to fix things himself? It always ended up costing more (including a trip to the hospital) than if he’d just had a professional do it right the first time.
Following are a few of the painful lessons authors who have gone before you have learned. I call them The 8 ways NOT to sell your book:
1. Fail to use an editor. Oh boy, the mistakes we think we will find that we don’t are too many to measure. Simple words like “you” instead of “your” or bigger problems like dialogue with a character we forgot we killed off in the first 50 pages. Hiring a skilled second pair of eyes will help to catch mistakes, clean up grammar, ensure consistency and offer suggestions on story flow. As writers, we are too close to the project to edit effectively. And don’t get me started on hiring our oldest teen or best friend… unless they are skilled at editing they won’t be working in your best interest.
2. Use a free online self-publishing service to save money. There are several out there and they promise a simple, DIY process, however, if you have a question, you are out of luck. For example; do I buy my own ISBN number or use one that can be provided, what template do I use? You have spent countless hours, months, even years perfecting your story. Invest in the publishing and promotion of your project. If not, you might as well…
3. Keep the book under your bed and hope readers will find it. Let me tell you a quick story. A friend of mine wanted to go to her senior prom. (I promise, this isn’t me) She didn’t have a boyfriend but decided that by wearing a pair of earrings that had tiny mustard seeds in them and saying a little prayer each night that the phone would ring. Guess what? Yep – she stayed home on the night of prom. If you want to go to the dance, you have to let people know. You can’t hide it under your bed.
4. Fail to create a marketing plan. When was the last time you took a road trip? Did you get in the car, point the car down the road and just drive and hope you find the place you are going to or did you get out a map, use the GPS or Google maps to plan the best route to get there? The same is true with marketing your book. You need a plan. Why? One reason is to make sure that you consider every possible marketing option. Another is to keep you focused and on track to create a name for your book.
5. Don’t have a book launch event or offer to give book presentations. We are back to hoping people find our book under our bed without a book launch event or book presentations. We’ll never get asked to the prom if we don’t get the word out!
6. Forget to have a press release announce your book or write one yourself. This is often one of the most forgotten steps in marketing your new book. The press release is still a very viable way to get the word out. Just read David Meerman Scott’s free e-book on the New Rules of PR to see how you can use a press release to market you book. This is another place to invest dollars in for your book. A finely crafted press release is an art form. Hire someone that knows what they are doing.
7. Rely on friends to promote your book. Friends are the best and they can be beneficial in spreading the word about your book but if this is your only method of promoting your book, you won’t sell very many copies. Word of mouth is an amazing marketing technique but it shouldn’t be the only one.
8. Avoid social media at all costs. This week a study came out that says people in the United States spend more time on their technical devices (phone, tablet, computer) than they spend sleeping every day. (read the article) Your readers are using Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs, and reading their local news online. If you avoid social media – you are avoiding your readers.
We’ve already talked about designing the book cover yourself and it goes without saying that if you are not willing to invest dollars in marketing/promoting your self-published book you might as well keep the copies under your bed.