If you’re publishing your book without an agent, you need either a good fan base before publishing or great marketing skills to self-publicize. As a communication major at Truman State University, educated in both journalism and public relations, I was equipped with the necessary skill sets to both secure a fan base and market myself.
You also need to analyze the market and figure out if your product or concept is over-represented or lacking. If you have the same plot line and characters that are popular on book shelves, more than likely you will not find an agent willing to represent you. If you have a unique story line and engaging characters and you still can’t find an agent, my recommendation is to self-publish and find out how to self-publicize at the same time.
The “Unwritten Letters Project” website gained popularity quickly because I presented it at a time when there was a need. People were interested in interactive websites and stories they could relate to. It’s important to learn who your target audience is and study what they would be interested in reading, what it is they’re willing to invest money into. I cannot stress enough how important it is to develop a strong online presence whether your product be a website-turned-book or an original manuscript. Here are the steps I followed to create an online presence for ULP that lead to its success today.
- Make a website for your idea, book or project, whether it is a blog or your own domain. (I used GoDaddy.com and WordPress – great service and easily navigated.)
- Make sure your website is user friendly and aesthetically appealing. Ask yourself, why will my target audience want to come back to my website? What can I leave them with to remind them to revisit? Give them the reassurance that every visit to the website will be different and beneficial to them.
- Create a Twitter page for your product and website. Look at @UnwrittenLetter to see an example. Twitter allows your audience to follow your updates and have a constant reminder of your online presence. I also recommend making an author Twitter page and website so visitors can contact you with questions or comments.
- Create a Facebook fan page or group for your book and invite everyone you know. Sounds simple, right? It is. In the info section ask your friends to invite their friends and so on. Make sure you give a short paragraph on what your website or book has to offer them. Also, don’t just include the same stuff on each site, Twitter and Facebook etc. You need to give them a reason to continually revisit each site and recommend them to others.
- Network, network, network! I cannot stress this word enough. Find as many similar websites, authors who write within the same genre, publishing companies who like to assist new authors, bloggers who include links on their site, anyone willing to add your link to their profile and ask to network with them. I contacted dozens of people and asked to do link exchanges and was greeted with a lot of positive responses. If you’re willing to scratch their backs, they will usually scratch yours.
It’s important to distinguish yourself from everyone else. Try to offer something unique and worthwhile. If you’re the only one representing your product, you’ve self-published and you’re thinking now what? Try these five steps and then think about a blog book tour. Google search “blog book tour” and browse through blogs who accept new books to be reviewed and contact as many as you can. Have books available to send the bloggers and try to have a new book review or author interview represented on a different site every day. It’s a new media version of the book tour, but it’s gaining more and more popularity and who knows, maybe it will lead to something larger for you and your book. It won’t hurt.
– Written by Alex Boles
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