This cat has at least eight different beds in this room, but no. She has to get on my work laptop, which hasn’t been the same since.
Let’s continue on the marketing path and focus on organic marketing. I think of organic marketing as a way to use the tools you have at your disposal without shelling out cash. Your website, social media presence (which I’ll get more into in my next post in this series), newsletters, blogs, personal touches, author appearances all add up to some great resources for getting yourself out there on a budget, and it doesn’t have to be that painful.
If you choose to have a website, decide if you want it to be a source of information and/or e-commerce based, and make sure that it’s a place users can visit to get everything they need. If you have good design skills or access to a designer, then by all means, make it eye-catching and appealing. If you don’t, then just make sure that it’s easy to navigate with well written content and that it utilizes responsive design (the capability to adjust to your device, whether it’s a computer screen, tablet, or smartphone).
You can get fairly affordable hosting too. Look at options from sites like WordPress, Squarespace, Bluehost, and Dreamhost. I went with WordPress because I know it pretty well, and the plugins make my life easier when it comes to site design, e-commerce, and mail hosting.
Also don’t be afraid to check out other authors’ websites for ideas on layout and included information too. For instance, when I visit an author’s site, I’m looking for ways to buy their books (preferably from them or an independent bookstore), upcoming appearances, social media links, and book teasers or blurbs.
Social media can be daunting, but it’s a good way to get word out there about your products and books, and build a fan base. You can offer platform specific special offers, post your appearances, and tease with cover releases. You can also get creative. It doesn’t always have to be about your books either. If you have cute animals, shamelessly exploit them. Post about your interests and hobbies, share pictures from a trip or outing. You can use social media to show your human side and make you more relatable to your audience.
My next post will go a little more in depth about social media, the platforms out there, and how you can use it to your advantage.
I have to admit that I fall very short here. As someone who has a lot of email fatigue and is more likely to unsubscribe or delete without opening an email, I struggle to understand the point of having a newsletter. But it has undeniable advantages, probably the greatest of which is the ability to keep your readers hooked and coming back for more– which is important when you have a new release coming up. You can create a reader magnet which can be newsletter specific chapters or short stories or something specific relating to your content. For my website newsletters, I include a character introduction each month, and for my Patreon subscribers I have character intros, bestiary entries, and a chapter each month from an unreleased stand alone novel that will be available to the public in 2025.
One thing I strongly advise against is sending emails just to send them. Email fatigue is a real thing. If you can’t produce high quality, relevant content, then don’t send any content at all. You also need to watch your metrics! If you notice that your unopened and unsubscribe rates start to go up, then you need to reevaluate your campaigns. Is your content engaging and unique? Are you sending something your readers will enjoy? All email subscription services have some kind of reporting capability, and you should acquaint yourself with your platform.
Another way you can engage your readers is through blog posts. I’m using mine to help chronicle my self-publishing journey, but some authors use theirs to engage their readers. A blog can be a fun way to talk about your writing process, the world you created, your characters and their significance to you, and any struggles you face (writers’s block and burn out are very, very real). It can also be another way to offer promotions, coupon codes, and let readers know about new releases and upcoming appearances, as well as your experiences doing markets, cons, and readings.
Personal Touches and Appearances
Never underestimate the importance of making yourself seen. People love talking about your writing process, your works, characters they relate to, and their own writing path. You can offer special discounts or giveaways at author events too, especially if you operate your own e-commerce site. I like making unique coupon codes for each event and then tracking online sales to see which event generates sales. That helps me be able to plan my approach for other markets and readings.
Something to keep in mind is that author appearances (or at least for me) are as much about lead generation as they are immediate sales. It’s not uncommon for me to have people chat for a while and take a book mark or business card and then buy one of my books at the next market I attend or from my website. If your readers have a substantial TBR pile or limited time, they may not be ready to buy right at that moment. It’s your job to make sure that they remember you when they are ready.
Now go sell your books!
Marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot, and you can get creative and have fun with it. If you have any creative tips or tricks to get your works out there, let me know in the comments!