Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Few Words on Self-Promotion

As a writer with a small press (and/or some self-published titles), the burden of promotion falls upon you. Of course, if you're like me, there aren't enough hours in the day to promote yourself 24/7. So, here are a few pointers when it comes to promotion:

-Utilize comfortable methods of promotion: If you're good at talking about yourself, do it. If the very thought of talking to people makes you physically ill, find something else. Granted, you are the only one who knows your book better than anyone else, so if you're not certain about your comfort level, try it out and see. You may surprise yourself.

-Use natural promotional environments: I've seen more than a few folks propose that you should take advertising materials with you to restaurants or send them with your bills through the mail. Although this may work for some, it's not likely to be a conducive (or cost-effective) method. Servers at restaurants, or those processing your bills, are performing a job and won't be eager to stop what they're doing to look over your material. If you have a desk job where people are sometimes waiting for you to finish a phone call, for example, you may be able to place a copy on your desk to grab their attention while they wait.

-Make determinations on future promotion efforts based on sales from present ones: This is going to be more difficult for those small presses where royalties and sales are presented on a less regular basis (some provide monthly reports, others every six months). It's far easier when you're working with self-publishing methods like Amazon's KDP and/or Smashwords, which give a constant record of sales. Of course, there's no guarantee that your sales today came from promotional efforts yesterday, but taking a look at trends will give a better idea on what you should spend your time and/or money on. If after three months, your paid online advertisements aren't netting enough sales to justify the expense, dump it.

-Don't assume that someone else's successes in promotion will mean successes in your own: Readers are a fickle bunch. Sometimes a particular book will strike a nerve with readers (Twilight, anyone?) while another won't, even if you go through the same promotional efforts. In addition, sometimes specific promotional efforts lose their effectiveness once everyone begins flooding those outlets with advertisements.

-Join forces with other authors: Writing itself is a solitary and depressing business. Self-promotion can be even more so, especially if you don't see results immediately. So, try joining forces with other authors who are looking to do promotion. Do a group chat, split the costs of a table at a convention or a print advertisement, or even just share each other's advertisements on social networking sites. A group of authors helping each other out means that you reach the sum total of acquaintances for the entire group, and that improves your odds.

And I'm certain there are other great ideas (please share!)...and there may be some that don't concur with these suggestions. Feel free to discuss in the comments section!


As a writer of science fiction, T. M. Hunter’s short stories have appeared in such publications as Ray Gun Revival, Residential Aliens and Golden Visions Magazine, and have received critical acclaim, twice (2007, 2009) receiving a top ten finish in the P&E Readers Poll. He currently has two novels with Burst Books, HEROES DIE YOUNG (Champagne Books’ Best-Selling Novel of 2008) and FRIENDS IN DEED. He also has a short story collection, DEAD OR ALIVE, with ResAliens Press. His self-published titles include his novella SEEKER, a sci-fi thriller THE CURE, and the first Aston West Triple-Shot (three-story collection) featuring “Dead Man’s Forge” and other adventures. Learn more about T. M. Hunter and read plenty of free excerpts and short stories at You can also follow him on Twitter and join his Facebook fan page.


January Bain said...

I think you hit all the high lights. Promotion is definately an ongoing venture.

T. M. Hunter said...

Indeed it is...and an uphill battle. I did, however, sell a copy of my latest book just yesterday to someone who had bought my first book for their son (and he'd enjoyed it). That was one thing I didn't touch on in the original post, building a fan base and connecting with them. Perhaps next month's post... ;-)