By Susanne Dunlap
We all write for a number of reasons—because we love it; because we’re compelled to do it; because we have something important to say; because it gives us deep satisfaction. And it’s a huge accomplishment to have finished a book and have it published, whether it’s through a big-5 contract, an independent press, or self-publishing. We should all take a mental bow and celebrate an achievement that is out of reach for 99% of the population.
However, whatever your reason for writing your book, whatever genre it belongs to, one truth applies to all of us:
No one will read your book if they don’t know it’s there.
Here are a few stats that make the point:
- According to the most recent statistics, over 1 million books were self-published in 2018 alone.
- Traditionally published books numbered about 304,000.
- The number of books published has risen, while the time people spend reading has decreased.
- The total number of books for sale on Amazon currently exceeds 32 million.
Add to that all the other ways people can choose to spend their money on leisure pursuits, and you probably think it’s going to be impossible to make a dent in your readers’ consciousness.
Yes, it’s scary, but there’s no need to panic. First, your book isn’t competing with all 32 million books on Amazon. Second, along with a change in the publishing model and a robust online reading and writing world, you also have more ways to get the word out about your book to the audience who will read it.
But why can’t I just be a writer? I’m not comfortable promoting my own work. Won’t people think I’m boasting? Besides, I don’t know where to start.
All of the above sentiments are common and natural. As writers, most of us are quite happy to withdraw and explore the life of our minds. We didn’t set out to publicize our books, we set out to write them to the best of our abilities.
Once upon a time it might have been possible to be a successful author without doing any self-promotion. Unless you’re already a big name, that time has passed.
You may not be thrilled about it, but if you have a book you want people to read, you’ll have to spend some time on promotion.
Even if you are fortunate enough to have a book contract with a traditional publisher, you’re not off the hook. Overworked, underpaid publicists are often trying to promote a dozen books within a short timeframe, and their efforts are normally limited to sending out ARCs and arranging bookstore appearances. It follows, too, that they will allocate their limited time and resources to the books that have gotten the biggest advances.
Basically, it’s up to authors to either pick up the slack from publishers, or do it all themselves.
Where do you start?
You can start by coming to my workshop, Book Marketing for Authors, on March 14, 9:30am–12:30pm.
Here are some of the topics we’ll cover:
- Targeting your readers
- Building an online presence
- When to start planning your efforts
- What you can do without spending any money
- Ways to get reviews
- Tools that can help you manage promotions
- The differences in promoting fiction and nonfiction
- What works, what doesn’t, and how long is a piece of string.
And that’s just a start.
Big budget, small budget, or no budget, there’s a lot you can do to get your book on a reader’s radar. It takes some research and a lot of planning. It also takes recognizing that you’ll have to build time into your busy life to do the promotional work, and being willing to put yourself and your book out there.
What qualifies me, Susanne Dunlap, to teach you about book marketing?
First of all, I’ve been through it. I’ve been published by the big 5 and witnessed first hand the extent and depth of what those publicists can do for a mid-list author. I’ve also published with a small press and self-published, and have had to re-launch myself as an author after a seven-year hiatus—without the resources of a big publisher behind me.
Secondly, I’ve spent a large chunk of my working life in advertising in London and New York, and have created online and offline media campaigns for arts nonprofits. I know a little about selling, in other words, and I try to keep up with the rapidly morphing online landscape.
I’ve also been through the trial and error necessary to figure out where spending money might make a difference in book sales and were it might not. I’ve had successes and failures. I’ve struggled with putting myself out there. And I’m eager to share all the knowledge I’ve gained with anyone willing to listen.
This workshop could help you whether you have a book already out, one that’s going to be published in the coming months, or if you’re still writing that book and wanted to get a jump on promotions.
The only prerequisite is that you have to want people to read your book. That, and be willing to roll up your sleeves and be open to promoting yourself. It’s OK. You deserve it.
Now let’s get started. Register here for Susanne’s 1/2 day workshop!