I am three months away from publication of my memoir, Under the Birch Tree, published by She Writes Press. To be honest, I feel as though I’m hurrying up to wait. While indulging in the need to be doing something, I absorb social media, from Facebook to Pinterest and all media in between. I take notice of my fellow authors’ posts, their follower numbers, how their posts engage. I read books about online marketing and the business of being a writer. I’m so jazzed about finally getting my book out there that I’ve become anxious and overwhelmed; I can’t keep up. I want to be riding in the fast lane with my fellow authors, feeling a need to compete while rallying right along with them, that I’m getting caught up in a whirlwind of busyness that may be unproductive. My promotion strategy has become analysis paralysis and I’m losing focus on what I need to be doing just for me.
If you’re feeling anything like me, information overloaded, and needing direction, I’ve jotted a few tips that might help you to find your own lane when promoting your first book.
- Define your goals.This is really the first thing every first-time author should do before considering any self or book promotion. Answer why you wrote your book and who is your audience and from there, define what you want to accomplish. In the long run, this will make your strategy or promotion decision a lot easier. Which brings me to the next point regarding social media.
- One size does not fit all.Just because you have many social media tools available to you doesn’t mean you have to use ALL of them. I looked up the demographics for popular social media and I was surprised to find that there really are demographics, contrary to my belief that all social media are basically the same, just different formats. For example, Fauzia Burke writes in her book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors, “Twitter is the only social media channel to be used by men more than women in every generation. Women are five times more likely to use Pinterest than men are.” Since my target audience is women, I will forego using Twitter in favor of using Pinterest. Social media helps us to learn, engage and bond with people we haven’t met (or will meet. Note #5). Use the best social media tool that is the best fit for your goals and your target audience.
- Keep writing.In recognition of my “analysis paralysis” I realized I was losing sight of what got me to this point: my writing. I gave up writing time for promotion planning. It is true how writing is a practice and like anything else, if you don’t do it, you’ll lose the very thing you worked hard to get. The more you write, the easier it is for you to write more. Writing begets more writing. Don’t sacrifice your writing; you wouldn’t be at this point without it.
- Get a website. If there’s one thing you should set up, it’s a website. I find my site to be “command central,” really, from which all things promotion flow. My pages on this site — home, blog, publications, contact me — enable me to convey my message in an organized way. Perhaps “less is more” is applicable here. You don’t need anything fancy. Simple, clear and organized works great. People can follow you and share your blog work, too. I’m mindful of its presence, always frequenting its pages to update, change, refresh. And, of course, to blog.
- Like people. And I don’t mean the kind of “like” on Facebook. I’m talking about engaging in good old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, talk with people. Get out there and mingle. Go to the library, exercise class, church, community events. Engage with your neighbors. Volunteer. Use your new engagers as promoters. They will be more likely to promote someone they have gotten to know and like. As a result of my neighborly meet-ups, my neighbor and now exercise buddy has recommended me as a speaker to her writing/spiritual direction group. You never know who the person is you are talking with or how they may be connected to someone or something else. Being an author and writing a book with a universal theme turned out to be a good fit for my neighbor’s group.
Lastly, have fun! Pause occasionally to connect with yourself, to breath, to relax!
Being a first-time published indie author can appear to be a frightful venture. But by focusing on yourself, your goals and what best suits you, you will feel more in control, better informed and confident to push ahead with your promotion plan. Give your learning curve a break, and consider these five points that stand out for me as my pub date quickly approaches.
Under the Birch Tree, a memoir of discovering connections and finding home.