From Nathan Bransford:
Here’s the thing about self-promotion: It sucks. It really sucks.
If self-promotion were an insect, I would squash it with the world’s biggest fly swatter. If self-promotion were a field I would burn it and salt the earth so it could never live again.
It doesn’t feel right to stand in front of a crowd and shout, “Me!” and no matter how much you try and cloak the self-promotion in elaborate disguises, it can still feel kind of icky. And if you don’t enjoy the spotlight, self-promotion in all its forms can be downright terrifying.
This is one of the hugest drawbacks about an era of publishing where publishers expect authors to shoulder the lion’s share of the promotional activities. No one I know enjoys self-promotion, and no one out there particularly likes being promoted to either. People usually want to hear about new things from enthusiastic and neutral third parties, not the hugely biased person who created the thing.
And when it comes to social media, the Internet dislikes it when something they are accustomed to getting for free suddenly comes with strings attached, even if those strings are only of the heartstring nature. It’s such a fine line between reminding people about your book and hoping they buy it while not alienating your audience and turning into a shill.
So basically: Self-promotion = not fun!
And yet I know what I would tell someone else who has a new book out: You have to do it. No matter how much you might dislike it, no matter how much negative feedback you get about it, no matter how much it makes you cringe, you gotta do it. You have to give your book a boost, you have to make your network aware of it, you have to do everything you can to help it sell. The era of being just an author, if it ever existed, is over.
Do it as non-annoyingly as possible, but do it.
Sure, it would be fantastic if you had an army of rabid fans or a fabulously wealthy and dedicated publisher to do all the promotion for you. But unless you win the publishing lottery, that first boost has to come from you. You have to build your own army and hope they start evangelizing and creating new converts. You have to get that first bit of momentum going. Otherwise your book will quietly disappear into the great unknown.
Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford
PG notes that Nathan’s post is from 2011, but, although many other things have changed, this one hasn’t.
Author = self-promoting author
Traditionally-published Author = self-promoting author
Indie Author = self-promoting author
You don’t have to be a jerk. You don’t have to be obnoxious. But you do need to get the word about your book out to people you know and people you don’t know.
As a general proposition, most people don’t know any authors. So even if you were working the counter at a fast-food place yesterday, once your book is up on Amazon, you’re an author. You can order an author’s copy and bring it into the fast food place and show it to your boss and co-workers.
Send several author’s copies to your mom so she can give them away to her friends.
When you see your friends, you’ll mention that your book is on sale on Amazon. They can pull it up on their smartphones and see the cover.
If you’re a student, take a few of your author’s copies to school with you and carry it so everybody sees the cover with your name on it.
Go to Zazzle or someplace like it and get a t-shirt with your book cover on the front to wear on all occasions along with some postcards of with a picture of your cover to mail out or hand out. If you do anything that’s printed, include a free QR code like this to make sure people can find your book page on Amazon or anywhere else you want to send them to follow up:
If you’re rich, you may decide to drop a bundle on advertising, but you will almost certainly spend more money than you make, but, of course, that’s your privilege if you’re rich. And buying ads doesn’t necessarily guarantee sales if you haven’t done a lot of other things right.