I have made the long-dreamt-of transition from aspiring novelist to published novelist. Now, just as in a game of Pokémon, I discover there is a vital evolutionary step after that: reviewed-and-read novelist. Only in achieving that state will I be able to fly and shoot lightning bolts out of my cheeks, or whatever poke’-powers a real novelist has.
It is not so easy for a genre-straddling indie author. Eric Beebe and Post Mortem Press do yeoman’s duty in hitting the road in their Press the Flesh Tour. They’re a lean mean team of misfits that cannot be counted upon to do the rational thing. Now that I have a real book and I have done my first convention, I intend to join the tour where I can. But these guys are not Tor or Orbit or Samhain. They don’t have the resources to carpet the world with pre-release copies or pay Kirkus Reviews several hundred dollars for a review package. I’ve got a PDF ARC and my charming personality.
At least it’s a really nice PDF.
This is the point where I layout my own oh-so-cheap marketing ploys to A: plead with my readers to help me to that cheeks-and-lightning bolts stage and B: provide a document for other indie authors to share with their public so that they may become a Wortortoise or something else highly evolved. For those who read this and have their own diabolical plots, please respond so that I may update and expand this document. Here we go:
I have this Frankensteinian cross-linkage created where anything I place in this blog immediately appears on Twitter and Goodreads which then appears on Facebook. I also post regularly on over thirty book promotion groups on Facebook which puts my message in front of one-hundred-thousand other people, technically. Unfortunately, as many as ninety-five thousand of those only have an interest in selling me their books, but marketing is always a game of small percentages.
Events are a good way to cut through Facebook’s attempts to filter out unpaid solicitations. I create events for book parties at conventions and our vintage store. Facebook events can also be used for virtual activities like book releases or podcasts. This allows you to directly invite your friends, cutting past the newsfeed’s tendency to pinch off the stream of information unless the author pays up.
Most importantly, you can directly appeal to your followers on social media to appeal their friends on social media, saying: “HEY, I KNOW AN AUTHOR, WHICH IS REALLY COOL, AND IF ENOUGH PEOPLE HEAR ABOUT HIM AND MAYBE BUY HIS/HER BOOKS, HE’LL BE ABLE TO SHOOT LIGHTNING BOLTS OUT OF HIS CHEEKS.” A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but that’s the world of advertising.
Despite what it looks like on Amazon, writing a novel is a rare and praiseworthy thing. If you have done that, it’s news. Cobble up a quick press release with the Whos, Whats Wheres and Whens and shoot it off to your local newspapers, magazines and television stations. The suburban papers which cater to weekly papers for specific neighborhoods are particularly fertile ground. Odds are that your initial attempts will be lost in the background noise, but if you persist your name will become recognized. There are also free websites that will submit your book press releases to dozens if not hundreds of news outlets. A Google search of “where to send book press releases” will bring back a sizable list. Just don’t get tricked into signing up for the paid augmentation of your press releases unless you have deep pockets and absolute faith in your writing. Everywhere there are individuals that are willing to make a profit off your desire to become a real live novelist. Don’t give them a cent unless you’re sure they can deliver value for your dollar.
First I would like to repeat what my wife and my publisher both admonished: “YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO PAY FOR A REVIEW.” There are multiple blogs, websites and magazines dedicated to reviews of books for free. If your novel is an eBook-only publication a review electronic copy is perfectly acceptable. Fewer and fewer reviewers are willing to take PDF copies of books that exist in print. Some will take bound galleys, which you can generate from a PDF through a copy shop, but there is still an expense there. Be mindful of how influential the reviewer is and the actual size of their audience. There have been recent scandals of book reviewers providing pat five star reviews of books just for the free copies which they can auction on eBay. Those blurbs are of little use on your website or book jacket.
There are many other ways to jump start your author’s evolution, such as creating library events, providing useful and amusing content on your blog or setting yourself on fire, which we can discuss at length in the future.