Self-Publishing and Marketing--What's Been Working and What Hasn't

As many self-published authors know, trying to figure out how to market your book is almost more time consuming (and often less enjoyable) than writing the book itself. Since I have no marketing experience and a very limited budget, I'm flying blind. If you have a wad of cash saved, that might be a great investment into a professional ad campaign, but if you don't, then it's just up to you.

In the interest of helping other self-published authors, I'm creating a list of what's working, what isn't and what is hit or miss. Keep in mind that my book is a historical YA, so what works for that genre may be different from another. This is just my experience.

WHAT IS WORKING

Giveaways
Everyone loves something for nothing, so I suggest you make up a budget for giveaways of your paperback (people prefer to get paperbacks to eBooks in giveaways as well). Giveaways can be done on your blog, Facebook or via Goodreads. The latter, I believe, is the most successful as the website will list your book and those looking for new writers or new books can find it and enter themselves in the giveaway whilst also increasing brand awareness. I had over 1000 people sign up for my first giveaway, which was very impressive.

Goodreads in General
Definitely get a Goodreads page and set up your author profile. Take time to interact with other people who are writing in your genre or readers of your genre. Targeting them really, really helps as they are the ones who are looking for just your type of book.

Get Personal
Emailing specific readers, thanking people for their reviews, etc., is not only polite, but helps you engage with your audience.

Contacting Local Papers
If you live in a big city, this one isn't really going to work. For those of you in a town, this is a great opportunity. Most smaller cities or towns love the idea of an author living there, so you will likely get a chance to get immediate press by contacting the arts and leisure section.

Targeting Your Audience
Find out who it is that will be interested in your book and start shooting emails and making calls. As my book is about the Holocaust, I've contacted some museums, groups for second and third generation survivors and Jewish organizations. Most people have been very receptive and happy for me to post either in their Facebook groups or have added me to their website.



WHAT SOMETIMES WORKS

Goodreads Ads
I find this to be a very hit or miss enterprise. These ads, which function like Facebook ads, target your audience by displaying to people who have listed their interest in your book's genre. While it is a way to get people to notice your book, I haven't noticed a lot of clicks. The issue is that it is on the side with several other books, so it is easy to overlook them if you're in a hurry or focused on a task.

Reddit
Reddit is very hit or miss. It's worth a try because the audience is so large, but depending on where you post, people are either very amenable to your promotion or very hostile toward it. People will either thank you for the book link and go to it immediately, or they will tell you off for even daring to think you can promote yourself. Target specific subreddits and develop a thick skin before diving in.

WHAT HASN'T WORKED

Author Ad Network
 I'm still a bit angry at myself for this one. After reading a few reviews that this ad campaign helped increase readership by 600% to several authors, I shelled out $85 for their marketing service thinking I was in capable hands. They pretty much just spammed by book on their websites which are already overrun with ads for books making it very difficult for mine to stand out. I didn't earn even one sale from that $85 investment, although the people I was working with to do the reviews were lovely. It may work for some, but it was a complete miss for me.

JURY'S STILL OUT

Independent Author Network

At $25 to join and promote up to six books, this one is significantly cheaper. It seems to be one of those that gives as much as you put in, so you really have to hustle. They have retweeted many of my tweets about my book and I've been able to connect with other authors, but I haven't noticed a sales increase. 

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