Writing a great book is, of course, a major part of being a successful writer. However, every writer knows that even great books don’t sell themselves. While traditional publishers provide marketing, there are still plenty of things authors should be doing to help sell themselves. This is even more important when a writer is self-publishing or working through a company with limited marketing support. Here are eight opportunities to sell yourself and promote your books.
1. Always Have Business Cards
More and more, business cards are becoming essential for just about every professional, regardless of field. If your business depends on selling yourself – and writing is definitely one of those businesses – you need a business card. You never know when you might cross paths with someone you hope will remember your name and help you further down the line.
2. Keep Book Copies Accessible
While it would be awkward carrying around an extra book everywhere you went, you can certainly keep a few copies in the trunk of your car. If you think someone might help further promote you, be willing to hand out a free copy on the spot. After all, no one is going to recommend you if they haven’t read your work.
3. Have a Pitch (or Three) in Mind
Handing over a business card or book copy is only part of the conversation. First, you also need to be able to grab a person’s interest. To this end, compose a 10 second pitch. This is your initial explanation as to who you are and what you do. Sell yourself. The pitch should give just enough information to encourage the listener to ask for more, in which case you then provide a 30 or 60 second pitch to further hook them.
Be concise. Your audience isn’t asking for a plot outline. They want to know the core points of why they should take an interest in your work. Be prepared.
4. Encourage Fans to Form a Street Team
Street teams are groups of fans who help promote your book under your guidance. They can write reviews, mention your works on social media, encourage local libraries to carry your books and more.
Street team members are quite willing to help promote you because they are already familiar with you and, even better, are already fans. However, they shouldn’t be taken for granted. Make sure their help is recognized and show it’s appreciated. You might offer small tokens such as branded bookmarks or benefits like access to excerpts of upcoming books before they’re available to anyone else.
5. Meetup Groups
Whether it’s participating in book clubs or walking to the dog park, you need to be meeting other people if you’re going to sell and promote yourself. Here, it’s important not to simply be about self-promotion. It’s an instant turn-off. You need to participate in the wider picture. But when someone asks “so, what do you do?” get out that 10 second pitch and see what kind of interest you gain.
6. Social Media
You have to have a web presence. It’s absolutely vital in this day and age. Create a website which explains who you are and what you produce. This should be your most robust Internet presence. Include a blog so you can keep readers up-to-date on your projects. Continue to spread that news through Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t be afraid to share a bit about yourself outside of your writing, particularly on Twitter. These mediums are often used extremely casually. The goal is to keep people interested in you as a person as well as in your books.
7. Write for eZines
Writing for electronic magazines, or eZines, is a great way of getting your name out to people with interests similar to yours. You often are not paid for your contributions, but if you catch people’s attention they can become interested in your other writing projects. Moreover, you can often mention your own works in your articles, because it helps build up your credibility as an expert on the issues you’re writing about.
8. Participate in Web Forums
Similar to writing for an eZine, web forums help sell you by getting your name out to people who are interested in your general genre but aren’t necessarily familiar specifically with you or your works.
Again, you shouldn’t sound like you’re just there to promote your books. Genuinely participate in discussions. Let people see you as an interesting individual, and mention what you do only as appropriate.
One of the quick ways of getting yourself known is to put your book information in your signature, so every time you post, your name and your books are displayed at the bottom. As people come to know and like you, they’re more likely to investigate that information about you.
The art of successful writing is about more than just word craft. It requires you to get involved with the people around you and use those situations to best advantage. Always be prepared to promote yourself, having the right materials on hand and a quick pitch in mind. Seek out likeminded people and share your interests, particularly your writing interests. Use the resources you already have on hand and be out on the lookout for new opportunities for selling yourself and promoting your books.