what writers do when they’re not writing.
A few years back, I was ready to find a publisher for my first novel. I won’t get into all the specifics, since anyone who has written a novel, novella, or short stories knows what you go through to get to that point. Let’s also skip past the fun part where you find a publisher who is willing to work with you. If we presume that you are like me (god help you), and you don’t have an agent and aren’t in the position to become a professional writer who can dedicate most of their time to writing, we can assume you will either go the route of self-publishing or hook up with a smaller publisher that focuses on a specific genre and runs lean and mean.
Your mileage may vary based on how involved your publisher lets you be involved with the editing/formatting/cover art process, but with promotion you are expected to do most of the heavy lifting. You are the captain of your own destiny when it comes to hitting the mark with your target audience.
You may be timid, you may be an introvert. Writing doesn’t usually require you to be socially outgoing. But guess what? Unless you can pimp your own work, grandma and Aunt Marie are the only ones who will ever read your stuff. So take a deep breath and dive right in.
I crafted a blog where I began posting bits and pieces of my work, I made sure I was friends on Facebook with as many like-minded authors, editors, publishers and fans of the genre I was working in, I crafted a twitter account and posted meaningful bits of information (no, I don’t tell people what I had for breakfast, but I do make sure I comment on topics that are of interests to fans of the type of work I have created, using hash tags (#) and what not, which allows other folks to see what you’ve said and hopefully they will follow you as well. I supported other authors as much as could by promoting their work, reviewing their work, and swapping blog posts with them. I got interviews online, I handed out my books to the local libraries, I made friends with local businesses, I took up the local paper on their offer to write my own little story in the area of the newspaper dedicated to local color. I went to regional conventions but learned quick that just because it is a horror convention doesn’t mean that most of the people there care about horror books. Spend your time and money wisely. Figure out what events will support authors, not just fans of the genre you’re in. Your publisher may do a few things, like hand out electronic copies of your books to a wide array of reviewers, but build up your own list of reviewers as well that you can coax into giving fair and honest reviews of your work. Anyone who runs a blog that posts reviews in your genre is an excellent starting point. The more reviews you get on places like Amazon, the more your books show up in searches on their site. Amazon will start putting your books on sale and promoting them by offering your book and someone else’s book together at a discount if you have over X amount of reviews (20 may be that number, but I’m not sure). Create google alerts with the name of your books listed, your name, and any other key terms that are unique to your writing…then you can see what shows up on the net about your work, be aware of negative and positive press, etc. Go to Novel Rank and get a rough idea of how many books you’re selling (even if your publisher is kind enough to give you a quarterly report) and go to Amazon and create an authors page and then make sure every book you’ve been in (novels, anthologies, etc) that has your name on it both on the product page and on your author page.
After you do all this, take a breath and then get back to writing, editing, and planning your next story. Of course, the above is just a fraction of what you can and should do as the head of your own PR firm. But it’s a start.