A couple of interesting posts have emerged to kick off the New Year with some useful insights on promotion for self-published authors. The upshot is that self-promotion for self-publishing is more essential than ever before – but also that it doesn’t have to be the blight on a writer’s life or on cultural values that the likes of Jonathan Franzen periodically portray it as.
On his “Let’s Get Visible” blog, David Gaughran states simply: “If You Don’t Enjoy Marketing, You’re Doing It Wrong.” In his view, there’s nothing so odious about new model promotional methods. His recommended techniques, such as “Price-pulsing, Free-pulsing/Permafree,” and so on, includes methods that he avers are labor-light, cost-effective or completely free, and absolutely not a chore.
In his view, “when people caution writers not to waste time or money on marketing, they think of blogging, interviews, hiring a publicist, and spamming Twitter or Goodreads. But that ignores a whole bunch of stuff you can do which fits your budget, doesn’t take up much time, doesn’t make you feel like a huckster, and actually works at selling books and building your audience.”
As it happens, I don’t agree with much of Gaughran’s lineup of “Stuff that can make you feel icky.” Book signings, for instance, can be fun – it’s about meeting people and talking about books, after all. And they were certainly every bit as much part of the traditional publishing scene. Nothing for Franzenites to moan about there. But I advise anyone who wants to check out these methods, old and new, to head over to his blog on the above link to learn more.
The push behind this, though, is coming from the issue outlined by Andrew Rhomberg in Digital Book World that: “Discoverability, Not Discovery, Is Publishing’s Next Big Challenge.” As he outlines it, “discoverability is becoming a bigger problem for authors and publishers. More books than ever are being published.” And furthermore, “books don’t go ‘out of print’ any longer. They now remain available as ebooks basically forever. Thus the total catalog of books available to readers for purchase or download has swelled dramatically and may now be around the ten or twenty million mark .”
In this saturated market, Rhomberg asserts, discoverability is going to be the big challenge, for all types of publisher, but especially the self-published author. “Last year it was somewhere between half a million and a million new titles that were published in the United States alone,” he cautions. “Self-publishing—mostly in the form of ebooks without a corresponding print edition (digital first)—has greatly added to that abundance.”
Rhomberg spends his time setting the stage for solutions, rather than giving too many this time. But he is absolutely advocating “practices in social marketing from Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook,” and other more modern solutions such as email marketing. And elsewhere, Gaughran has declared that “There’s no discovery problem for readers … The real problem for large publishers is that readers are discovering books not published by them.”
So, if you like talking to people, if you like meeting them, if you like your face on the stage – even at a local community hall – if you like to get your point of view across, or even just enjoy the sound of your own voice, why not promote yourself and your work? It may not make you the next Stephen King – or, God forbid, the next Jonathan Franzen. But you might actually enjoy it.