It has been six months since my book, Stories by the Seashore, went live on Monday, March 25, 2019. The journey has been exciting, humbling and full of learning curves. Here are my top 5 marketing tricks that have helped me sell my first self-published book.
- Do Get Ideas from Other Authors
I have started following writing and marketing accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Cyberspace is full of authors that have gone before me, eager to impart wisdom to those willing to listen. The most helpful accounts I’ve stumbled across are mixtusmedia and shyonbooks on Instagram, with excellent editing, marketing and penning ideas and inspiration shared daily. I also like Jon Acuff, an author of several books and speaker.
Slowly, I am incorporating some of the ideas I’ve seen. This blog post is one of them.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Authors
It is easy to fall into the comparison trap, with most published authors and individuals sharing only highlights of their process. It can be inspiring as a budding writer to follow authors that have published multiple books and have huge followings. Glean what you can but don’t expect that their story will be yours. Remember that they, too, started somewhere.
Most of my inspiration has come from local writers, like Professor Chip Dameron of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, who has penned a few books on poetry, Katelynn Renteria, a recent high school valedictorian that wrote her first manuscript at age 14, and is the recipient of a national book award, and Daniel Garcia Ordaz, a master of the English and Spanish languages, whose most recent published work, Cenzontle/Mockingbird, I am currently devouring.
2. Do Use Social Media as a Marketing Tool
I was pleasantly surprised when, shortly after my book release, many friends and family shared the link to purchase my book on their Facebook platforms. A few also took pictures of it and shared the image on Instagram (one of them I use in my self-publishing presentations because it’s such a great shot!).
I am still learning about how to best use hashtags on Twitter. I had not given that social media site much thought prior to the last couple of months. I am starting with baby steps, following other writers and allowing them to follow me, too. My next step will be tweeting about my book.
Don’t Rely on Social Media for All of Your Marketing
Our local libraries did a fabulous job promoting my self-publishing and book-signing presentations. I had several people come up to me and say, “Hey, you’re famous! I saw your picture on the screen at the main library.” While fame is not my goal, it was encouraging knowing the libraries were promoting my work. It wasn’t solely up to me to do all the leg work.
I also had positive experiences with my first couple of book-signings at my church, Brownsville Community Fellowship, Paragraphs on Padre (on South Padre Island) and the Vintage Crush Tearoom in San Benito, Texas. Looking back at these humble beginnings, having good first experiences were key to my motivation in continuing.
My next event is on Saturday, October 26th, at the Viva Life Christian Bookstore in McAllen, Texas. I would love to see you there!
3. Do Celebrate Small Victories
The first three months after my book release, it was flying off the shelf! At least, that’s what it felt like to me, a newcomer. My initial goal was to sell 40 books, and then 100. I rejoiced when I got to 102, and then stopped counting after that. Sales slowed down after the initial rush. While it is not a national bestseller, I am thankful and humbled that people (and not just family and friends) want to read my book. As of right now, I have 11 reviews, and I still find that exciting!
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself (or Others)
There were a couple of libraries in South Texas that invited me to present and were completely unprepared when I arrived. As a busy mom of three young children, I was more than a little annoyed. I schedule one event per month with plenty of advanced notice so that I am prepared, and it gives the host site ample time to prepare, too.
However, I quickly reminded myself to be gracious in both instances. My dear husband and wonderful friends all helped to save me on both those days (issues with technology). And then, the tables were turned. As I presented at the Southmost Library in Brownsville (a library that was very well-prepared), my MacBook Air turned off in the middle of my presentation because it ran out of power! I was absolutely mortified! (and that’s because I’m not easily embarrassed)
I quickly scrambled to plug it in but it did not turn on. What else could I do except keep going with the presentation? Did I mention that it was being filmed live, via Facebook? Good times.
4. Do Think Outside of the Box
One of my favorite spontaneous events took place in July. We order about a dozen books every month for signings (as a self-published author I get them at printing cost). The summer zoomed by, with my children home all day and participating in multiple camps and extra-curricular activities. Because of this, I did not schedule an official event.
Since I had books on hand, I decided to do home deliveries. I asked via Facebook and Instagram if anyone who had not purchased a copy of my book wanted one signed and delivered on a particular Saturday morning. The response was great, and my son and I spent a couple of hours delivering the books to 6 destinations.
Don’t Place Yourself in a Box
One of the most popular pieces of advice I read at the beginning of my marketing journey was, “Don’t give copies of your book away.” I clung to it, fairly legalistically, the first couple of months. 6 months into the process later, I have given away multiple copies of my book. A couple of these instances have been through social media giveaways, and other times I felt prompted to gift it to someone in particular. I have not regretted it.
Again, soak up all the wisdom you can from those who have more experience, but do be yourself.
5. Do Bask in the Support of Others
One of the main reasons I kept it together at the Southmost library presentation after my power shut off was because I had a couple of dear friends sitting in the audience. I knew they were panicking inside, wanting to salvage the situation. I didn’t want to let them down; I wanted them to know it was okay. So I kept going.
As I look back at these beginnings, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to you, my supporters. Whether you were one of the first to purchase my book when it went live, attended a presentation and book-signing, ordered a copy for home delivery, asked me how things were going, or simply encouraged me, I thank you. Your belief in me has blessed me tremendously.
Don’t Expect Everyone to Support You
Not everyone is going to like your book, and that’s okay. For whatever reason, not all will be supportive of your writing endeavors. That should be none of your concern.
Show up anyway. Those that rejoice with you will come. As many great writers know, we love for people to read our work and give us feedback. However, that is not the driving force behind why we write. In many ways, we do it for ourselves. It heals us, and reminds us of what is most important.
If you have other successful marketing ideas I would love to hear them! This is all still new to me, and I am constantly learning.
For those that have asked about my scriptwriting job with Bright Side, it is going well and keeping me busy! You can find the first two videos that were made based on my scripts here.