Six tips for marketing self-published books

And now, the fabulous guest post by Lisa McKay, author of My Hands Came Away Red and Love at the Speed of Email!  Marketing is a tricky beast, whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, and Lisa has knowledge of both realms.  To learn more about this wonderful author, you can start by visiting her website at www.lisamckaywriting.com.  Don’t forget to pick up a copy of her memoir, Love at the Speed of Email, available here!

Last Wednesday I wrote about the challenge that marketing can be for self-publishing authors.  I asked what you would do if you were in charge of marketing my memoir, Love at the Speed of Email, and was flooded with responses.

Well, not exactly.

But that’s not surprising.  It’s a hard question for me to answer, and I know the book better than anyone.  It’s also hard to think of ways to get the word out there without being overly and annoyingly self-promoting.

The one person who tackled the question I asked last week suggested leaning toward authenticity whenever possible.  I think that is excellent advice (not just for marketing, but for life).  I also think it that it applies not just to what you’re communicating, but how.

I know agents and editors who would argue with me over this one, but this is what I think it means…That if you hate blogging, don’t set yourself the goal of putting out three posts a week.  If you hate Twitter, don’t use it.  If you don’t want to be on Facebook, don’t.  If you loathe public speaking, don’t try to break into the speaker circuit.

Life’s too short to spend too much time forcing yourself to try to connect with others in ways that don’t (mostly) come naturally to you.  Plus, if you’re using these forums for the sole purpose of flogging your books, it’s unlikely to work anyway.

However … all this doesn’t excuse you from breaking out of your comfort zone now and again and trying something new, because if we never did that we’d never grow and learn.  But on the whole you’re going to find it easier to connect with people if you feel that you’re being yourself in the way that you’re communicating.

So all that said, what are some other marketing tips that make sense to me?  Here are five more:

  1. Know your audience: What do they need and want?
  2. Know where they hang out: What do they read, watch and talk about, and where?
  3. Figure out how to go and stand in front of them: Where your audience is will help you figure out how best to stand in front of them (public speaking, radio, guest post on personal blogs, magazines or newspapers, Twitter, your own blog, discussion forums, etc.).
  4. Offer them something that will help them.
  5. Give something away.

So how have I been applying these tips?

In terms of Love at the Speed of Email, one group (audience) I think may be very interested in the story are people in long-distance relationships.

I have a lot of experience (both good and bad) with long-distance relationships, so I have some things I can usefully say on this topic.  Given that, I asked myself what was something I’d wished I had when I was doing all that long-distance dating?  What was something that might have been helpful?

So one thing I’ve been doing this last couple of months alongside preparing the memoir for publication is writing 201 Great Discussion Questions for Couples in Long-Distance Relationships.

This free e-guide will be released in PDF form around the same time as the memoir.  My hope is that some people who get their hands on the e-guide will be intrigued enough to visit my website and check out the story of Mike’s and my long-distance relationship.

But even if this e-guide doesn’t help me sell a single book I won’t be sorry I’ve written it and given it away.  I really won’t.  Because I also very much hope that these questions will find their way into the hands of people all over the world who are building love one long-distance conversation at a time.  And I hope hope hope that these questions make them laugh and learn new things and bring them closer emotionally even while they are far apart geographically.

I still have some work to do figuring out how to get the e-guide into the hands of those who might find it useful, but this is one marketing puzzle – how to best give away a useful product – that I’m enjoying working on.  It feels fun.  It feels authentic.

This post first appeared on Lisa’s blog back in February.  I am beyond grateful to her for appearing here this week and extremely happy to play host again any time she’d like to come back for a visit.  Lisa is a super guest!  Stop back tomorrow for Day Three, wherein she graciously answers a whole slew of questions by yours truly.  Till then…

(c) 2012.  All rights reserved.

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