Sunday, 29 January 2012

So you want people to read your book - getting yourself noticed (self-publishing)

There are lots of people out there at present trying to get their self-published first novel noticed. With such a huge amount of competition out there just how do you go about doing it? Here are some of my thoughts based on nothing more than musings from my mind as someone who wants to do this one day (note I'm thinking self-publishing your first book hence no mention of agents/major publishing houses).
  1. Get yourself a readership in advance. There are lots of websites out there currently accepting short pieces so go and submit to them. You're going out there to give people a flavour of 'you' basically. Target the sites that are of interest to you (e.g. for horror try http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.com/ or http://www.darkriverpress.com/) and submit to them. Remember though, check for ownership of your piece where you post it. If you had planned to put in a collection of your own short stories then make sure that you can do this in their terms and conditions or see if they will own the rights.
  2. Alternatively, there are a lot of small presses out there which publish anthologies (e.g. again for horror, I like horror ok!, try http://www.pillhillpress.com/index.html or new publishers http://cruentuslibri.wordpress.com/; lots of others out there). This then gives you an author profile where you can state published by x, y and z to raise you above other newcomers.
  3. Enter some competitions. If you can say your book was winner of 'The made-up Awards for literature' then it automatically says that someone thinks you are good.
  4. Social media. Use things like Facebook and Twitter to build yourself a load of contacts in the literary world. Go and follow a load of people within the genres you are interested in be it published authors, editors, other aspiring authors, readers, etc. You will develop connections in this way and start to hear of opportunities to promote yourself. Equally, as your own 'followership' builds you have a target audience to plug to.  Make use of hashtags such as #amwriting #writing #amediting #wip as well as this will lead you to other authors.  I bought a book from a guy who followed me because I liked the way he came across in his tweets. Checked out some reviews of his book and then paid my cash.
  5. Reviews! Offer copies to book reviewers on websites in your genre. For instance, I review books for http://www.geeksyndicate.co.uk/. Most reviewers are busy people (I know I am) but reading is what they love to do. A good review in advance of release will do wonders for sales but be prepared for a negative review too (or for no review offer at all). Equally, if selling on Amazon then get friends to put reviews up (honest ones - I get really p*ssed with fake reviews saying something is great and you've lost me then for future books) as those star ratings will help convince people to purchase your book.
  6. Build a website.  I've no idea how easy this is but something like Blogger seems easy to set up as a first basis. Once you have a book to sell I imagine investing in a professional looking site (or you may be an IT whizz) will help to sell books much better. A great example of a first time book website is http://cityofhellchronicles.com/ - an anthology put together by Colin Barnes. I came across Colin via Twitter and now have a copy of said anthology.
  7. In a similar vein, you could follow the example of my mate Lily Childs. She hosts a weekly Friday Flash competition (#fridayflash on Twitter) at http://lilychildsfeardom.blogspot.com/ where she judges entries from fellow writers. All welcome and a friendly atmosphere. I doubt this was Lily's intention as I would imagine she just wanted to bring people together but she now has a fan base and I, for one, have bought some of her stuff because of it.
  8. Run some competitions to give away your book. Whilst you will be giving away a number of books for free you will get a lot of people plugging the fact that you have a book out there. I've been and paid for books which I tried to win in a competition before where I have been unlucky.
There are loads more things to consider (cover, pricing, where to advertise it, e-book or printed) but I've had these ideas bouncing round my head and wanted to put them down for me. Hope that they are of help to others and good luck with getting that book out there!