In 2020, 1.7 million new books were independently published in the U.S. alone, a 264% increase over the previous five years. Indie books now make up 43% of all books published.
Booksellers sold over 825 million books in 2021, up from nearly 758 million in 2020. Adult fiction sales rose 25.5% since early in the pandemic.
More books are now vying for attention on digital and physical store shelves.
Whether publishing independently or through a traditional publisher, emerging writers must think creatively about ways to market their novel once it’s published. Even traditionally published authors find that they’re often left on their own to market their work once the initial release is over.
There are basic marketing tactics every writer should consider, such as:
- Sending out ARCs (advance reading copies) of their book for editorial reviews
- Planning a social media campaign
- Setting up interviews
- Promoting a reader magnet to collect emails
- Understanding Amazon categories
- Paying for Amazon ads
- Putting your book on sale once it’s released
- And more!
I’ve decided to put my next fiction book on hold to write a guide to indie publishing because there’s so much confusing information. I’ll go over these and more in future articles. Trust me, I did so much wrong with my book and learned so much. And I hope to help others not make the mistakes I did.
I think unique marketing strategies are becoming increasingly important – you must creatively promote your work in addition to the usual tactics. You need to implement some standard marketing efforts like those listed above. And you also need to come up with individualized strategies that set you apart. That way, you’ll get noticed.
So what is creative marketing? It’s anything you do outside the norm to get your book in front of others. The term can be confusing because it’s defined differently in different places. In short, it’s simply being creative about the ways you promote your work.
For example, I’m still not exactly sure who my target audience is. I discovered a comic con in Las Vegas, realized it was drivable (I don’t want to ship books and marketing materials, at least not yet), and the event was affordable. And who can pass up a few days in crazy, surreal Las Vegas??
So I tabled at the Amazing Comic Con last weekend. Did I sell a ton of books? No, but I sold some. And I got asked to sit on a panel about indie publishing and was interviewed for a video podcast.
I took the opportunity to take a lot of photos. Who else can say that Batman and Robin posed with their book? Costumed characters were more than happy to snap a pic with the book, allowing me to hone my elevator pitch in front of real people I don’t know. And the event has given me a lot of potential social media images.
I can also add the panel and podcast to my media page, which will help garner more interest from various forms of media.
As you’re working on your book, I highly encourage you to put some savings aside each week. Save whatever you can, even a couple of dollars here and there. That could be your marketing budget when you’re ready to publish.
Having a bestseller with no marketing behind your book is highly unlikely. Of course, it’s possible, but it’s extremely, extremely unlikely.
I saved some money for another business I thought I wanted to start, so I’m fortunate. I have some cash to put into my marketing budget. I look at my writing career the same way an entrepreneur looks at starting their business.
I’m a writing startup, treating my marketing efforts like any new business would theirs. I highly recommend developing that mindset. Every writer who wants to publish and make money is a creative entrepreneur.
What Can You Do?
So, what can you do creatively to promote your book? Think about who your audience is. Where would they go to have fun or buy things? What would they do in their spare time? If you can figure that out, you can find a company, event, or place they frequent and promote or sell your book there.
- Experiment. As I mentioned, I did a comic con. Will I do it again? Doubtful. But it gave me valuable insight and information into my book and doing those types of conventions. And I had the money in my budget to attend and make the most of my time in Las Vegas.
Try to think of something other people aren’t doing to help you stand out from the crowd. Does your book take place on a farm? In the country? At a bakery? Find a way to sell at a farmers market, country fair, or baking event.
My book takes place in a record company, so I’m getting ready to contact record stores (the ones that still exist) to see if they’ll sell the book or put out postcards about it.
- Podcasts. I haven’t started using it yet, but if you have the budget, sign up for Podmatch. It’s a podcasting service that will connect you with podcasters who want to interview you. It’s $30 a month, so even if you do it for a couple months, I’ve been told it’s worth it.
- Partner or Collaborate. Who does something related to your storyline, main character, or setting? As mentioned above, I’m planning to visit record stores to see if they’ll sell or promote my book. Eventually, I’d like to find a band/musician (perhaps more than one!) to promote my book on their site and music. I’ll do the same on my Substack, website, and social media.
Does your book take place in Savannah, Georgia? See if the city’s shops, events, and businesses will promote you. The goal is to get information about your book out to potential audiences.
In the End
The great news is that more books are being read. The challenge is that many more books are vying for attention on digital and physical store shelves.
So go out there and sell yourself! There’s no way to know what will sell and what won’t, but you need to have the three basics covered – a great cover, a good story that’s well written, and a professional editor. After that, it’s up to your creativity and marketing prowess.
If you’d like a copy of the book to follow along with these articles, you can order:
Paperback (Amazon) for $14.95
Ebook (Kindle) for $4.99. Free on Kindle Unlimited!
To order from outside the U.S., use this link.
Other ways to purchase coming shortly – more drama to share at some point!
Diane hosted a launch party for her book in Santa Fe on the day it officially released. What a fun way to celebrate many years of hard work!