Good morning chops! Today is another Writer Wednesday and we are going to continue talking about self promotion. Last week we went into a few basics about how to approach social media and what it does for you as an author. Today we are going to talk about budgets.
Promotion is probably one of the biggest pitfalls for new authors. Not only is it hard to gauge what is expected of you on a promotional front versus what your publisher will provide, but it is very easy to over stretch yourself as you scramble to catch up. It’s almost never a case of not doing enough promotion as not doing the promotion that is right for you and your book. Each book marketing is different, not only from a genre or niche standpoint but what the author brings to the table as well. Even with the added boost of exposure that comes with a larger publisher, it still boils down to successfully hyping your book to the right audience.
If you are marketing to teens, aside from the general carry over of adults who read YA fiction, you need the word of mouth power from librarians and teachers who will put your book in front of a teenage audience. If you are marketing genre fiction, whether it be paranormal romance or military sci fi, you need to know the best way to reach your niche audience. But as a new author, there are some important distinctions to remember as you approach your marketing.
First Book Promotional Black Hole
Common misconception→ The success of your first book makes or breaks you as an author.
This is just not true. There is an awful lot of pressure on debuts to do well that it diminishes the importance of learning and building toward each subsequent novel. In larger publishing, a poor release can impact future advances and the continuation of a series, even if a series does garner a dedicated fan base over time. Reality is, many series have a snowball success, building on second and third releases.
You want to give your book the best chance of success possible, BUT, when creating a budget and testing the promotional waters, you may find some of your efforts did not have the impact on sales that you hoped. This does not mean it was a total waste of time and money. A first book may require some experimentation before you find a method that works for you. It is very easy to overstretch yourself and that is why budget is key. Take into account what works and what doesn’t when planning for your next attempt, whether you try another round of promotion on your first book or prepare to launch a second.
Set a Budget and Stick to It.
There is no magic number. Some authors have more access to funds than others. When creating your promo budget, do what YOU can do. What ultimately matters is not how much money you can dump into promo but where you put it. Communicate with your publisher and see what they will be doing on their end. You may be able to tackle what they are not able to.
For Example→ Netgalley and/or Edelweiss can provide a huge review boost. These sites allow a wide range of librarians, bloggers, and reviewers to request advanced review copies of your book. If this is not something your publisher participates in, you can still do this, before or after your release to gain reviews. Search for book services that have Netgalley/ Edelweiss co-ops. Some are more affordable or feasible to your budget than others.
Another example→ If you have a firm handle on instagram, a visual heavy bookstagram tour for your release might be the most advantageous for your brand. There are several companies that run tours and some of them specialize in certain genres.
In either case, it is important to remember neither is a full guarantee for sales. Some promotions will have the added benefit of boosting your social media presence. As always it is important to do your research and choose services that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
The Learning Curve
Book promotion isn’t an exact science. As stated above, the same formula isn’t a cover all for your books. Like building your social media presence, building hype before a book launch does benefit from time and effort. Having promotional boosts in place a month ahead of time versus a couple weeks allows those promotions to gain more ground. The more time you have before a release, the more you can experiment with promotional tactics that do and don’t work.
But you can’t do it all. And that’s okay.
There is a reality of expense. There is a lot of advice thrown at authors to buy ads, to invest in a giveaway on this or that platform, to pay for builders for various social media. Those add up quickly, and some are not as beneficial to a debut author as they are to an author on their fourth or fifth novel. Approach promotion as a learning experience. If you are working with a tight budget, see where you can boost your book for free or at an affordable rate. No matter what you spend your money on, do not look at your ultimate numbers as a failure. Whatever you try, you have done the best you can for your book, and what you take away from that experience will only help you in the future.
Our first couple tips and tops posts have dealt with generalizations, geared towards authors who are just starting out. Future posts may provide a narrower focus of subject matter but we are laying some groundwork as we go. Below we have also posted some resource links that have more specific advice. What would you like to see from us here in the future? Let us know!