Marketing a Self-Published Novel: Part 5 of 5

I emailed back and forth a couple of times today with Nancy C. Johnson, author of Her Last Letter. She was mentioned in the Christian Science Monitor article as being a self-published author who made the NY Times Best Seller list. I read some of the reviews on Amazon about her book, and they are a mix of opinions. But there were 120 of them!  Getting traffic, good, bad or indifferent, is a good thing.

Victorine Lieske was on the NY Times list with her novel Not What She Seems, but has also written a book about epublishing. Might be a good investment if you’re planning to self-publish!

Here’s another great blog, recommended by Nancy C. Johnson, for people who want some sound advice on making self-publishing work. Johnson also suggested participating in the Writer’s Cafe on Amazon’s Kindle site, if you self-publish there.

If you want to fish, go where the fish are.


Marketing a Self-Published Novel: Part 4 of 5

I belong to a writers group in LinkedIn, and recently someone there brought up E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, who is often said to have self-published the book first, and then got it picked up by a publisher. But that’s not what happened. Her blog FAQ says she was writing fan fiction for Twilight, and that a publisher in Australia set her up for ebook and print-on-demand publishing with Fifty Shades. Someone did the marketing for her, although she already had a great network, with a screenwriter husband and a father who was a BBC cameraman, not to mention her previous career as a TV exec. Here is her blog. What she did was get the word out about her stories to everyone she knew. And she apparently knew a lot of people, including folks who could help her move her writing career forward.

Alan Sepinwall writes a blog about television called What’s Alan Watching? The NPR article I mentioned the other day talks about how he self published a book and a successful book reviewer just happened to be a follower of his blog. She wrote a review of his new book and it ran in the NY Times. This was a bit of luck, but he had worked hard to develop a large network through blogging about something people are interested in.

This is a confusing article from Publisher’s Weekly about Kindle sales, which says that 15 of Kindle’s Top 100 ebooks had “self-publishing” origins. But it has James at the top, even though she has already said her books were not, in fact, self-published. The article also says these 15 titles were almost all romance novels. I’m going to try to contact some of those authors and see how they got the word out.

Here’s an article about books self-published in 2011 that made the NY Times Best Seller List. These are not all romances. So there’s hope! Question is, how did they sell copies of their books? I’ll need to look them up and see what I can find.

Marketing a Self-Published Novel: Part 3 of 5

National Public Radio recently had a great article about self-publishing, so I thought I’d share their link. It mentions that Simon & Schuster is starting a new entity called Archway Publishing, which will give authors another portal for self-publishing print on demand and ebooks. The article said that S & S will be watching sales there closely, kind of like a minor leagues for authors, and wants to “call up” authors who do well on Archway. And, of course, Archway charges a minimum of $1,999 to publish there (link to prices), and up to $14,999 for marketing and publicist services. Smashwords and Amazon’s CreateSpace are nearly free, but provide little or no marketing help. It remains to be seen if these vanity presses do much marketing for authors, either. I would be curious to hear from authors who have tried those services, and see what kind of sales success they’ve had.

Marketing a Self-Published Novel: Part 2 of 5

So I did a poll, here in WordPress and on Facebook; asking all my friends, family, contacts, former co-workers if they would click “like” to show they would re-post, re-blog or re-tweet up to three marketing posts for my novels each week.

Between all the people I connect with online, I probably know 200 people. If all of them re-posted or shared my updates and such, that would probably be around 5,000 or so sets of eyes seeing my posts. The idea here is to get eyes on the books, see how many people would be interested in buying them, and see if it is possible to market the books virally, and maybe get noticed by a traditional publisher that way.

But it didn’t work at all. For whatever reason, all of 17 people saw the post in Facebook, and three people saw it here in WordPress (all of them were Facebook friends who linked to the article from there), while 78 people had seen my previous post (Part 1 of this message).

Of the 17 people who saw the poll, three really good friends clicked “like” in Facebook.

What I learned from this is that it’s really cool to be able to see the numbers on Facebook and WordPress. But the timing of that poll message was poor. Hardly anyone saw it. While viralization is probably a great way to get a message out to large numbers of people, the jury is out on whether an unknown person can make money on creative endeavors this way.

Would the results have been different if I had 3,000 “friends” in Facebook, and 500 “followers” here in WordPress? Maybe someone in that category can try a poll.

That wedding proposal performed and filmed here in Portland last year got a bazillion YouTube views, but those people weren’t trying to sell anything (I think), and what they did was amazingly complex and challenging (how do you get 60 friends, family and neighbors to choreograph and rehearse that without the bride-to-be knowing anything about it?).

Marketing a Self-Published Novel: Part 1 of 5

Most writers know that querying literary agents is the traditional method, but that this process can take months, and is generally fraught with disappointment. Even successful authors have said that the initial search for an agent or a publisher took several tries and involved much heartache. But they got through it! So don’t give up.

My previous novel, Virtual Silence is self-published on’s CreateSpace. This is a great place to self-publish because it doesn’t cost an arm or a leg, and you have pretty much complete control over the appearance of your novel. Amazon also helps you get your book out to numerous retail websites. But what they don’t do is market the work for you. And that is the biggest challenge for self-published authors. Smashwords is another place where authors can self-publish. I’m sure there are others, as well.

But see, anyone can self-publish. Which means most of us won’t be self-publishing something great. Traditional agents and publishers provide a quality filter that self-publishing doesn’t. Lower quality works simply don’t get looked at in the traditional model. But in self-publishing, there are gazillions of titles (211,000 published in 2011) available in print-on-demand and ebook. How is yours any different than the rest? And how do you get the word out to millions or even thousands of people that your book even exists?

I’ll dive into that subject after a little more research!