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Self promote - but start small

Updated: Feb 27

Unless you are an 'A-Lister' - or some well-known celebrity/novelist - you may need to read this.

Self-promoting your novel is not easy

As a self-published novelist I would be the first to admit I find self-PROMOTION very difficult. I should also add that I was very disappointed - in myself - for the poor results versus the time spent, on SOME of my campaigns.

But not all.

So, why should you listen to me or read any further?

For one good reason - so you don't make (too many) expensive mistakes.

THINK SMALL initially, when spending on advertising

But, don't get me wrong. In my former career as a direct marketing specialist - where every pound or dollar spent had to deliver at least five times it's value in sales - I did well, and with a multi-million pound annual advertising appropriation.

So why do I think differently, now?


In my former life I was following a tried and tested - and successful - formula for promoting a proven product. I began small; learnt my lessons well (including making mistakes); then just did more of the same but bigger, trying to improve with each successive campaign.

However, unlike the aforementioned debut writers, as a new - unknown - novelist I started with a DIS-advantage. Now I was dealing with an unknown product.

Nobody knew me as a novelist.

I did'nt mix in celebrity circles (I still don't!) with connections and a lucrative network of journo-publicists ready to place me on the front of their magazine or on their TV/radio show, and - even without that - I didn't have deep pockets (I still don't!) with which to experiment in various channels - at great cost - until I found one (at least) that gave me a decent return on investment.

What DO you do to get your name - and your book - out there?

First I will list the methods that most blog and article writers suggest as low/nil cost options:

* Build and publish your own website - yourself

Low-cost platforms like 'Wix' offer easy entry for those with only modest grasp of web technology. Not only that, they provide an understanding and schooling beyond the technology, notably marketing advice, how social media works, and 'best-practice' tuition so that you do things correctly - all at no extra cost.

* Start your own BLOG

You can launch this off your website, or subscribe to platforms to enable you to spend little more than you own time. You can even guest blog on other's blog sites.

* Use social media to reach an existing, new audience

If you are heavily into Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at a personal level, you may be well-placed already to build a following with a focus on promoting your writing.

What else can you do? Try these methods, all the while using the test-then-roll-out principle if laying out hard-earned cash - or spending valuable writing time.

Remember: Self promote but start small.

* email marketing can cost nothing

* If you have a 100 or so network of friends and associates to whom you already communicate either on business or as friends - tell them about your new book.

Now, I don't suggest you do the old 'Hi, John. We've not spoken for a long while but I've just started to sell life assurance - can I interest you in any?'

Worse still - I'm an agent for <Such-and-Such> Party Plan - will you host one for me?

Nah! That is SO naff. Embarrassing, even. This is different.

Why should the fact that you're a debut novelist be any different?

For one, it's more personal. If you have any connection at all on a personal level with those you email, you should EXPECT them to be interested in your new 'career'.

At the very least, add links to where your book can be found or bought in the 'Signature' to every email you send.

* If your book is about a certain area - contact newspapers, magazines, local libraries, history societies, community centres - even local business in the area with a public 'face' (like a cafe) - and tell them about your new book.

It's relevant.

* If your book has - say - steam trains as a back-drop (or any specialist subject) - seek out media outlets related to that subject - and... you know the rest.

* If you - personally - live in a local town or village, or if your book features certain locations, place a simple A4 poster in the window of the local post office or similar high-traffic retail outlet.

It's relevant to those who see it - and costs about 25p a week!

* Book signings and personal appearances

I have never tried this but it does make sense. They can be free - at you local bookshop or cafe - or paid-for with a modest sum at your local village fete.

People you may know may not realise you write; people you don't know may like the idea that they can meet the author and talk about your books.

One caveat: even if you use Kindle Direct Publishing as a cost-effective printer, you will have to stock up with enough copies to cope with demand without having too many left-overs.

The more you do of this, the easier it will be to get the balance right.

* Free copies to local book clubs

Again, this costs money to provide samples for members to read - so you need to solicit revues and/or ensure you sell copies of subsequent new releases to make it pay.

So why not pay Facebook or Google Adwords to promote your book?

You pay for each person who clicks on your advertisement, or by how many people your advertisement is viewed. But be careful.

All I can say is, "I have never made them work - not even when I was spending hundreds of thousands on advertising generally".

So, if you must use pay-per-click advertising like Amazon, Google Adwords etc...

Self promote but start small

You can spend as little as £5.00 a day - but I have found that, from the number of people I pay to reach, so few of them click my ad - and then - even fewer go on to buy, that I have never covered my cost. I have always lost money.

If you know any different - PLEASE TELL ME - as I have yet to talk to anybody who has made them pay for themselves.

Join a relevant facebook community

...(say) relevant to your book's subject, your book's location - or to your own person (e.g "Local author features local village in his latest romance.")

At the end of the day, with a low-budget, low-reach campaign, if you're lucky - IF you're lucky - you may get picked up by an agent or a larger media source with a much wider audience - if your book is good enough.

But, that's another story...just make sure yourself promote but start small.

P.S. Above you will see how I have used THIS blog to promote my next book through my website.

FREE GIVEAWAYS - like this short story - can be a no-cost way to introduce new readers:

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