Self-promotion for an indie author is an ongoing commitment that requires a great deal of dedication and diversification to reach (and grow) your audience. There are of course the more traditional ways such as social media, your own website, blog, book launch websites and promotional services to target readers, but have you ever thought about starting your own YouTube channel?
Starting a YouTube channel is a brilliant way of connecting with your readers, and for many, it’s a far more enjoyable way to promote their books along with talking about subjects connected to their style of writing, the subject matter and genre.
But the first thing that you will ask yourself is
“what on earth will I talk about?
This will depend upon what you’ve written, if your book is about travel tips in Europe for example, then hosting a YouTube channel which talks about specific travel advice aimed at those going to Europe would be perfect, you can essentially break elements of the book down into bite-sized chunks, this helps to promote your book and grow an audience.
Non-fiction books at first seem to be the easiest subject matter to turn into a YouTube channel, this is because you have an area of expertise that will be of an interest to a specific group, you can cover all areas of your chosen subject, and again, break down into smaller snippets which allow you to come up with new ideas for videos over and over again.
But, does this mean fiction authors will struggle to gain an audience if starting their own channel?
Of course not, the subject matter will be different to that of non-fiction, but you will have lots to talk about that an audience will love. For example, explaining the process of character development, over coming writer’s block, the publishing process, editing your book, having a book cover designed, where and when you write, software you use, story progression, the list goes on and on.
The next hurdle you may be thinking about is equipment, surly everyone who hosts their own channel has spent thousands on gear, right? Wrong, well, maybe the top YouTubers have but many don’t and their videos still look fantastic.
There are lots of authors who are producing great channels and only use the camera on their smart phone along with strategically placed table lamps for lighting (if you could see most YouTubers ‘studios’ you would be surprised at just how many are being highly creative with what they have and still get great results).
Having your own YouTube channel will help with your own exposure and it can also help with selling more copies of your book, but you will also need to promote your channel through other avenues until you get higher numbers of subscribers and views.
Can I also make some money from my YouTube channel?
Yes, it is possible to make money from your channel, we constantly hear of YouTubers who make millions while hosting a gaming channel from their bedroom studio, but to be fair, these are the extreme and you should always start your channel with the bigger picture in mind, your channel should you’re you to promote your book, but also allow you to connect with your audience and have some fun at the same time, if you are purely trying to make a quick buck, this may not be for you.
But before you start, it is worth checking out some current authors who have their own channels to get some ideas, here are five you should take a look at first and then maybe search for your own favorite author.
The Creative Penn
So, get started and let us know when you’re up and running, we’d love to see what you come up with!
Writing a blurb for the back of your book can be a very time consuming task, we’ve known authors take weeks and even months to write, rewrite, tweak, update, edit and finally publish a burb which is no more than 250 – 300 words.
And although this text is less than a standard page within your book, it’s importance in sales is so key that it is worth every minute of your time, ensuring that you have a highly polished and effective back page.
The first thing to remember about a blurb is that it does have a job to do, and this is to convince the reader to buy your book.
Keeping this in mind, there are elements within a blurb which you should consider, these will alter depending upon whether the book is a work of fiction or non-fiction, but remembering that either way each is still a sales tool will help.
Here are our tips on perfecting a great blurb for your book.
Blurbs for Fiction
Blurbs for Non-fiction
Book promotion as a self-publishing author is relentless, if you want to make your book a success (and why wouldn’t you?), you will need to keep chipping away at it regularly. The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do, some may require an investment of funds and others are free, but either way, self-promotion on a consistent basis is the key to success.
So, what can you do to self-promote right now?
Here are our top ideas to get you started.
We have all heard the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover”, the point being that we should look a little deeper than just face value, however, at the same time we know that advertising (and this is what your book cover is) works. The leading brands in every avenue of industry spend a great deal of time and effort in creating advertising that speaks, and most importantly, relates to their audience, that connection is what can help to give the consumer the motivation in selecting their product (pricing is also a factor, but in a market where prices are similar, your advertising is what will make the decision for the buyer).
When you look at the publishing world and especially that of self-publishing, it is clear to see that the online bookshelves are saturated with indie publications. Bowker shows the amount of self-publishing titles have grown from 1.2 million to 1.6 million per year (this equates to over 4300 books being published every day), these numbers are astonishing.
With the massive increase in books being published the competition for any new or existing author is now vast, to think that on the day you publish your book, there will be another 4300+ titles also hitting the online bookstores. If you haven’t considered competition, maybe you should.
Choice is of course great for all of us as consumers, you can be sat in your pjs on the couch and in a second have downloaded a great book to read (I know I do this all the time), but when you scan through Amazon’s book store (making sure that you have narrowed the field a little with ratings and genre), you have an endless choice of books, and the very first thing that will grab your attention will be the cover.
If the cover looks unprofessional, rushed and as though corners have been cut, what do you think people will think of the book’s interior content?
When you go into a supermarket there’s a reason why people don’t buy odd shaped or blemished fruit and vegetables, we assume that if it looks odd then it’s going to be odd on the inside too, the growers and supermarkets know this, which is why everything looks highly manicured. We are all biased based upon the presentation of nearly everything, research shows that we make a lasting opinion of someone new within seven seconds of meeting them, further research indicates that this opinion starts to form within a tenth of a second. The point being, we judge what we view very quickly.
How you present your book will have an effect upon an audience, yes, the ratings will also help, but there are many other books available with five star ratings and great looking covers, so to compete effectively you should ensure that your book’s cover also looks professional and fitting for your chosen genre.
Along with a professional book cover design you should ensure that the title, subtitle, and blurb also hook your reader into wanting to know more about the book. A great title combined with an appealing subtitle will intrigue the reader, these two elements are important in selling the book and should be considered thoroughly before deciding upon. The same goes for the blurb, it has the job of further selling the book (now that they have it in their hands), you can learn more in our article on writing a great blurb.
Remember, we judge so much on first impressions, your book will be no different, so in an age of massive choice, give your book the advantage it deserves.
If you are trying to get your book published through the more traditional means of an established publishing house, you may find it incredibly hard to get it read by an editor if you’re ‘going it alone’. Most publishers rely upon literary agents bringing them manuscripts, these agents will have developed relationships within the publishing world, have specialized within just several specific genres, have their fingers on the pulse of current trends and understand how to best shape a book for an audience.
So, finding and working with a literary agent will give you a massive advantage when publishing your book, it will help in giving a clear path to not only polishing your work to its most professional version, but also with opening doors to the relevant parties who can make it a success.
Understanding you need an agent is one thing, getting one (a good one that is) is another.
The good news is that agents do in fact need authors, without authors they wouldn’t have a job of course, however, most agents get inundated with emails, letters and manuscripts from hundreds of authors every day, so you have a lot of competition even in getting an agent to represent you.
But first, you need to find an agent
You may or may not already know people within the publishing world, so you might want to ask those you do know if they have any contacts or recommendations. However, if you don’t get any luck here, don’t worry, there are other ways to find agents.
Firstly, you could try several publications which are more dedicated towards the publishing industry, books such as Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents, Writer’s Market and/or Guide to Literary Agents both by Robert Lee Brewer are certainly good places to start.
There are also many websites which will give you the details of agents, sites such http://aaronline.org/, https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ and also https://agentquery.com/default.aspx are three sites which have used by many authors and are certainly worth taking a look at.
Many agents also attend book and literary festivals along with writer’s conferences, these are great environments for authors and are well worth going to (even if you’re not looking for an agent), however, it should give the chance to meet with an agent or listen to a talk given by one, this information is invaluable.
You can also look in books which are in your own genre, many will have details within their acknowledgements section, some will list their agents.
Social media is another way to find agents, it can also help give an understanding of their personalities and which would fit your style of writing best.
Once you have a list of agents who are relevant to your genre, you need to start reaching out to them.
But first things first, before you reach out to anyone, your book has to be finished and highly polished, if you send a manuscript (or chapters of one) which are incomplete, in need of editing and full of typos, your chance of success will be zero.
So, before you do anything, get your book edited, proofread, and refined to its absolute best.
Check each agent you plan to contact to ensure that you are doing so via their preferred method, for example, if they only except applications by email, don’t then send a 500 page manuscript printed on letter sized paper through the mail.
You should then send a query letter, this needs to be professional and be a one page pitch for you and your book, you’ll also need to include a synopsis for your novel which should be no more than one or two pages in length. For non-fiction, these synopses are a little more in-depth and should be more substantial in length.
You should also include a chapter of your book, for fiction it is recommended that you send the first chapter, with nonfiction you can send any.
Please remember that most agents will not accept a full manuscript being sent to them at first, send a query letter with samples, when in doubt, always refer to the agent’s own submission guidelines.
Be prepared for rejection, the best authors in the world have had to deal with this, it is normal, however, if you have sent out hundreds of applications/query letters and you’re still not getting anything back, you may want to go to your editor (or a new one) and get it reevaluated for any additional revisions it may need.
For many authors the current pandemic does nothing to help with creativity, when faced with a stressful situation the mind tends to concentrate on the more pressing issue, so for those who write as well as hold down a full or part time job, it’s understandable that your attention is preoccupied.
So many in our communities have been affected by social distancing and restrictions designed to keep us all safe , we stay within our house, for some of us we work from home, many are waiting for their employers to open back up again, and for some, the frustration of claiming benefit and trying to focus on an uncertain future is all that can be thought of.
However, we still need to give our minds the breaks they deserve, focusing 100% of your time on events that are far from your control will not help your mental health, investing time into something creative is not only a way to use the additional hours you may have, it is a break, a chance to become absorbed in something other than fear and the unknown.
When you apply yourself into something creative, when you truly focus on something which requires the beauty and might of your imagination, you open a door into world where you can focus on something else (even if for a short time).
And we need this relief, a distraction to create and for the briefest of moments let go of the continued news updates, social media rumors and misinformation.
Now is the time to be creative, to start that book you always knew you had inside or finish the one that’s remained saved on your PC for the past two years, it’s time to start painting, to draw, to sculpt, to sing and even dance, whatever your creative preference is, now is the time to embrace it.
For the majority of us the new ‘norm’ is one very different from a month or two ago, most towns, cities and countries are on lock down, those of us who can work from home are doing so, many brave essential workers are risking their health to keep us going and for others, their jobs are either gone or on hold.
This can be considered a scary time, and rightly so.
But whether we like it or not, this is the state of things and we have to adapt under the stressful circumstances. There is help out there and for many people assistance from government is on the way, systems are certainly feeling the pressure (and moving slower than ever before), but our support systems do (and are trying) to help us all.
The main message that we hear time and time again is to stay home and stay safe, quarantining can lose its charm quickly, but it is essential and most of us understand this. However, as hard as it might seem, we have to look for the opportunity for us all in these circumstances, and the one thing that being in quarantine does afford us is time.
Time, whether we are spending it actually talking to the loved ones we’re living with, or using Skype to talk to those who are geographically distant. We have time to read, to listen, to learn something new and to create, we can write, paint, draw, sing, dance and put all of our passions into something which becomes the focus of our fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams.
We now have time to reflect on who we are as individuals, who we are as creatives and who we are to those around us.
This current situation will pass, but we should also use it as an opportunity to come out the other side as better people.
What will you do with the time that you now have?
Now that you have published your book, you may be looking for other ways to market it to a larger audience, this is where many authors have turned to publishing in audio as well as print (and eBook), and the majority of these authors didn’t read/record it either.
It’s worth considering an audio version of your book, more people are subscribing to the likes of Amazon’s Audible and the process itself is a great deal easier than you may have imagined. If you decide to release an audio version, there are two main options you will consider in preparing your book for its audio release.
One – Doing it yourself
Ensure you have a quiet and sound adequate space to record in, you may need to choose your room carefully and set up so that you don’t get poor audio and background noise. You’ll also need a good quality microphone along with the software to be able to record and also edit your sound files.
Other elements you’ll need to keep in mind will be:
Recording your own book by yourself can be done, but, there is a lot to take on board, in many cases (unless you have some sort of experience in recording) it can be a great deal easier to get others involved, it will lead to an easier process and a professional finish.
Two – Getting help from professionals
If you have used KDP to publish your book (and so many authors already have) then using Amazon’s ACX program is the logical step in converting your book into audio.
Here you can get everything you’ll need to have a professional audio book created and then distributed through Audible, Amazon and even iTunes.
The process is broken down into eight steps:
Once your audio book is live and ready to be purchased, you’ll then start with the more familiar role of self-promotion and advertising.
There are of course option services out there who can record your book and distribute it, but ACX is a good option to consider and they really do try to make the process as user friendly as possible.
Currently many people are having to work from home, their places of work doing the right thing (and where possible) ensuring that their team can still be productive, but from a distance. For many authors this may feel like an extension of how you would set your home up for writing, it’s just that now most of us are quarantined and making your home/work life work is vital (if you want to stay productive).
So, what should you consider when spending more time at home and either working or writing your book? Here is our list of what will help any author have a more productive time while working from home.
One – Find a space.
Trying to work in your living room from your sofa sounds great to many, but the reality is that it really doesn’t work, you have more distractions and the temptation to just relax is overwhelming (after all, a living room is normally set up for doing anything but work).
Now, not everyone will be lucky enough to have a home office in their house, so you may have to be creative in choosing a location to work in, if you have a spare bedroom (and a desk with chair) then this could become your work space, if not, then you could use your kitchen table (so many of today’s big business originally started from a kitchen table, so if this is your option, you’re in good company).
Basically you need an area which is as free from distractions as possible, a table to place your pens, paper, tablet or laptop on to and a decent chair which you can sit in for a longer period of time with out getting back ache.
Two – Mindset
If you’ve never worked from home before then you’ll have a clear boundary between your place of work and your house, this can be a good thing, as your home is a place to relax and take a break from the business world, however, now that you are working from home, you need to shift that mindset slightly.
Having a clearly defined area to work in really helps with this, as once you are in that area, technically you’re at ‘work’, but not only this, you should approach the whole situation as if you were in your normal work place, you may not be wearing your usual work clothes, but you should approach it with the same professional attitude.
Three – Scheduling
Working from home requires some structure, without your boss looming over your shoulder the temptation is to work when you feel like it, this may work for some, but it really isn’t the most productive way of planning your day. Having a schedule where you can plan how and when you will spend your working hours is really useful to ensure you get the most out of your day (and also means you’re not working until midnight either).
You can download apps and software which will easily allow you to plan out your day, week and month, but if you don’t want to buy/use new software, you can always set up a planner in either Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers.
When you plan your day you should list the tasks that have to be completed that day and check them off as you complete, this is good in two ways, firstly it ensures that you don’t miss anything important and secondly it helps you when reflecting upon the day that you have actually been productive (when working alone it’s good to feel a sense of achievement, even if it’s from yourself).
Four – Distractions
Distractions are far more prevalent when working from home, social media is only a click away and it is easy to get sucked into watching an hours worth of nonsense on YouTube, so you have to be strict with yourself, switch off all social media and only check a couple of times during your working day. Now this may be a little harder for some, if you use social media for your business then you may have to go on to check and update, but be realistic in your usage.
Five – Breaks
The flip side from working from home is that you tend to find yourself working more hours, you can also miss out on taking a lunch break and instead eat while working. It’s really important that you take the time and schedule a break within your new working day, get up and away from your desk (or kitchen table) and step outside for a moment, of course keep your distance from others, but spending five minutes in the fresh air (even if it is just outside your front door) is really good for clearing the mind.
Try to eat away from your desk and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Six – Communication
Working remotely will still mean that you have meetings with colleagues, it’s just now they’ll all be conducted online. There are many different applications that can be used for this and your company may have its own preferred application that it will want you to use, the same goes for your email and messengers. So, it may sound obvious, but, making sure these are set up upon your device correctly before you start work will lead to a smoother day (realizing five minutes before an important meeting that your laptop needs to be configured for it to work is not great). Also, for meetings, make sure you are dressed the part and not in a dressing gown.
Seven – End of Day
Once you have completed your work for the day, make sure you close the door on your work space or clear everything off of your kitchen table, it’s good to still have some boundaries between work and home, it helps you to unwind from the day’s work and ensures you can sleep well (so you can still be productive for the following day).
Social media (like fashion) changes with time, most of us have a Facebook account followed by a Twitter feed, but the switch to predominantly using Instagram happened a while ago, so if you’re not already on this platform too, you could be missing out.
The great thing with Instagram is that it’s very visual, it’s easy to use and very focused towards using with your cellphone, so no matter when and where you are, there’s normally an opportunity to connect with your followers/readers.
So, first thing’s first, if you don’t yet have an account, now is the time to set one up, you can sign up at https://www.instagram.com/ make sure you select a professional looking (and relevant) profile image, also take the time to write a short bio for your profile. If you download the app from either the Google Play or Apple Store, you’ll be able to sign up via the app too.
One – Adding content
Instagram is focused more towards mobile use, so adding images is incredible easy using their app which allows you to take photos from your phone, add filters and then upload. However, if you want to add content that you make on your computer you’ll need to ensure that the size is correct (you don’t want to add a huge panoramic only for it to be hard to view once uploaded.
If you go larger than their recommended sizes Instagram will compress the image, this can make the post look a little blocky in comparison to the original image, so try to stick within their guidelines for the best results.
You can add content to your Instagram page through your PC, but it will normally require the use of a third party app to do so, you could also save the post to any cloud storage and access from you phone to post, or send it directly to your phone to post.
Two – Using Hashtags
When I first started with Instagram I was posting some great content but never using hashtags, the result, no one saw my posts. Hashtags help people (who aren’t following you) find your content, of course they need to be specific to what you’ve posted and more than just one or two of them, however, don’t get carried away, if you use more than thirty you’ll find that the caption for the image gets removed.
Three – Self Promotion?
The golden rule is in not over promoting your book, if your feed is just one long advert then people won’t engage, you should aim to have just 20% of your posts being ads and the other 80% being non advertising. Think of what you like to view when browsing Instagram (or which ever social media site you prefer), is it just the advertising you look at? No, we all quickly scroll through this, your viewers will be just the same.
Four – Engagement
Social media is, well… about being social (the key is kind of in the name), so engage with people, comment on others posts and reply when people comment on yours.
Five – Look for moments to share
There will be millions of opportunities for you to share posts with your followers, now this doesn’t have to be every single meal you eat from now on (please, if you’re not a food writer, don’t share meals, we all eat, we get it). But, if you wander into your local Barnes & Noble and they have your book on display, take a photo and shout about it. Or you may have just completed chapter one of your next novel, an image of you with a big smile sat at your laptop would be great too.
Be creative and have fun, as long as it’s not a stream of constant adverts you’ll have a better chance of connecting with others.
Six – Keep Posting
Try to post something every day if you can, this will keep your feed in the mind of your followers and indicate to Instagram that the account is being actively used.
Also think about when you should post, now this will be different for each author, if your audience is made up of adults in their 30’s (for example) then you might want to post from 7pm onwards when they’re back from work. However, if your audience is mainly teens, then posting earlier when they’re back from school would be better.
If you’re not sure when you should post, look at other authors who publish in the same genre and to the same demographic, you can always copy when they post.
Seven – Ask some questions
An easy way to engage with your followers is to ask them something, what are they reading? What’s the best book or worst book they’ve ever read? What are they planning to read next? The list of questions you can ask is endless, just be creative and engage when your readers respond.
Eight – Advertising
You can pay to advertise your posts which can really help in targeting specific readers, just remember that if you are setting up an ad campaign it will be done through Facebook’s Ad Manager, this will allow you to get very specific with your targeting and also your budget, you can set daily budgets and specify the timeframe for the ad to run.
Nine – Give stuff away
Offering a free copy of your book (especially if it’s signed) is a great way to get followers to like your post and engage with you, you can also offer other prizes to increase the interaction with people who may not currently be following you. There are authors who give away copies of their own books with copies of a famous author’s book too, this way they have a better chance of gaining the attention of the other audience too.
Ten – Test and Monitor your posts
Try different approaches and offers with your posts, with some trial and error you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure that your content looks great, it’s interesting and that it’s not all advertising.
Book cover designers.
All information within this website (including its blog) is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. JD&J Design LLC does not make any warranties about the reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information in this website is strictly at your own risk. JD&J Design LLC is not liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of this site and information.