I Have to Do WHAT???
Ah, the one thing many authors hate the most, promoting themselves and their work. It's dreaded by seasoned veterans as well as the not yet published novices. Why? If you sent out those query letters to perspective publishers, you had to sell yourself and your manuscript. Who better to sell YOU than you?
I know, I know. I was right there with you a little over a year ago. My very first erotic romance was accepted by Siren Bookstrand and was set for a September 2011 release. I didn't have a clue where to start telling people about me and my novel. I had my own personal Facebook page, but that was it. I was invited to join my publisher's yahoo groups. One was for authors only and the other was for both readers and authors to get together and share new releases and basically get to know each other. Reading through some of the posts I immediately found I was already so far behind.
I didn't have my own website or blog. Nor did I have a Twitter account, author page on my publishers site, Facebook Page (not to be confused with my personal page), Google+ or any other way to connect with potential readers. I was scared out of my mind. What the hell did I get myself into here?
Lucky for me and many other "newbies," several Siren authors took us under their wings and never tired of answering the same questions over and over again. They cheered us on through each step of the publishing process from getting our contracts signed to seeing our book covers for the first time. They were there when we freaked out getting our first edits back and the manuscript looked like an explosion of technicolor with all the comments and balloons from the editors. All of it to make our "babies" grow up and be the best they can be.
It was from this group of people I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I learned how to get my blogs and website up and running. I friended many on Facebook and learned how to set up different pages. I started using Twitter on a regular basis. I "met" even more authors like me just starting out and those who have many titles under their belts. Each and every single one of them willing to lend an ear and a retweet when needed.
So here I am, one year later with TWO books published and another due to be released in November. Now it's my turn to pay it forward. I've set up not one, but FOUR blogs now. Two of them for my pen name Tammy Dennings Maggy, and the other two for my alter ego Lia Michaels. I have a third pen name that will soon get her own blog too. Why do I need all of these? To promote the hell out of myself, the pen names, "our" work and showcase other authors.
Many of you have stopped in for the spots of my fellow authors here and on my sister blogs. Not only do we all get to learn more about these writers and their works, we get to chat and "mingle" a bit with other fans. Todays feature "Writer's Words of Wisdom" is yet another way I can share what I've learned on my journey with those who are just starting out and to thank those who have come before me and taught me so much already.
What follows is based on the advice from one of my fellow Siren authors, Tymber Dalton. She's blogged about promoting many times and has even written a book about it. Pimp Yourself: Easy, Painless & Cheap Self-Promotion for Writers. It's a great book to have on your Kindle and it reminds you that you don't have to have a fancy schmancy big named company to get your name out there. You can do it all on a shoe string budget and most of it for free. When first starting out, who has the extra money to pay a stranger to put YOUR best foot forward?
Where Do I Start?
Get a Gmail address to use exclusively for whatever you publish using the pen name you wish to promote. Only use this email address for your fan mail and any correspondence/promotions for this pen name. I didn't do this last year, but when I set up Lia Michaels, I got that Gmail account right away. Things are so much easier with that pen name and correspondence than with Tammy Dennings Maggy. I have two email accounts with that one and at times even I get confused! Don't make that rookie mistake and you will save yourself a lot of time having to wade through emails!
If you have enough in your budget, get yourself a website with your pen name in the .com, .net, and .org formats. There are many sites to register your domain, but the most common and highly recommened on is Godaddy.com. I haven't done this yet, but plan on doing it very soon. Until then, I have a website combined with my blog on Behind Closed Doors.
Now for my favorite. Set up your blog. I've used WorldPress.com and Blogger and have to say the latter is my favorite. I'm sure you've guessed that by now since three of my blogs are all done through Blogger! ;) I found with WorldPress, the fonts and templates are pretty limiting, even though many are appealing to the eye. With Blogger, I can change up the font sizes and styles a bit and of course I get to change the colors! On The House of Taboo, I use a lot of the hot pink/purple font color that matches the back ground purple smoke so well. Go ahead and take a peek at it to see what I mean.
There are tons of free Blogger templates to choose from and when you have the budget, you can customize one of your very own. Don't worry about that now. There are some beautiful templates that will appeal to you. Go ahead and look through them. Try one out for a week or two. Switch it around until you have the one and the layout that fits you and your personality.
Another thing I love about Blogger is that you can set it up to have an "adult content" warning. When you first went to The House of Taboo you were taken to a page with two buttons. The warning there tells you the site contains materials that some may find offensive. You have the choice to click to proceed, or opt out. In this day and age, it's best to have your adults only warnings up front and personal then to have someone try to say they didn't know and were "assaulted" by pictures that offended them. Trust me. CYA people!
Once you are all set up, blog, blog and blog some more. Talk about anything and everything. Start promoting yourself even BEFORE you even have a release day yet. The idea is to get your NAME out there so when your book is released, you will have the start of a network of fans who will want to check it out.
Now don't freak out if you are already "behind." You will catch up in no time. Now that you have your website/blog up and running, it's time to dive into social media.
But...Do I have to set up a Facebook Page and Tweet About It?
Do you want your name and books to get out there? Do you? Then yes, you have to use social media to help you build up your network of industry contacts, fellow authors, readers, bloggers and yeah some famous folks in there too. Why? You never know who will click on your page or see one of your tweets and be interested enough to check out your book. Word of mouth will get you everywhere these days. Have you heard of a little book called Fifty Shades of Grey? It's all in who you know and getting your name noticed by the right people.
You already have your Gmail account set up in your pen name, now you can get rolling on Google+. It's newer than Facebook, but you will find some features a lot easier to use. It's also another social media branch you need to tap into. Take the time to explore it and learn about setting up different circles of friends. Don't be alarmed if complete strangers add you to their circles. You don't have to add them back and you can set up your posting settings to include just certain circles. Best thing is to just keep in mind that whatever you post there will be about your work and you/your pen name. Try to keep your personal stuff out of it if you can.
Facebook is your next stop. You need to set up your own personal page in order to set up fan pages, so you might as well start that up now. You will only be allowed 5000 friends on your personal page, so don't use that for your active promotions. You want to set up an actual FACEBOOK PAGE. This used to be called a Fan Page. People "like" the page and then are able to follow the posts. You can even set up these pages to allow another person or two to act as admins. They can help keep up on the posts for you. Something to think about!
Once you have both Facebook and Google+ set up, you will be able to link them to your blogs. Just with a click of a button, you can automatically post from your blog to your social media. Folks following you on the social media can then click on the links and be taken to your blog. They in turn can click on the buttons around our blog post and spread the word about you through their own social media sites. Get the picture?
Twitter is our next project. If you haven't already immersed yourself in the land of Tweet or be Retweeted, then you need to set up an account in your pen name. As with all the suggestions so far, this is free. Twitter buttons can be used in your blogs so people can tell others about you just by clicking the button alone. The program does the rest. If you want to post to Twitter and Facebook pages at the same time, you can use TweetDeck (another freebie). Just entering your post one time, will then set it up on two social media sites at once. As an added bonus, you can even set up tweets/posts in advance on TweetDeck so even while you sleep, messages can be sent to your contacts.
My book is out. Now what?
Keep going! Now you can set up our author pages on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.com. During the set up you can link it so your blog and Twitter feeds will post to your author pages automatically. Another time saver in the promotions department!
Set up a Goodreads.com account and author page. You can upload your own books as well as those of others you have read. Rating and reviewing those books will help you connect to other readers who will in turn check out your books simply because you are interested in the sort of books they read.
YahooGroups is also a great place to find other writers, readers and publishers. Check them out and read their member and posting guidelines. Many have specific days for promotions of your book, your blog, blog hops, chats, etc. Find those that fit you. Don't do what I did and join too many at one time. Your email box will be filled to the brim with updates from them.
Since I write erotic romance, I've gravitated toward the YahooGroups that welcome that. One I skim through daily is Marketing For Romance Writers. Tons of great tips and workshops available in that group. There are other sites out there too such as All Romance ebooks (ARe), Coffee Time Romance and Manic Readers.com. The Manic Readers site is a great one for finding places to submit your book for reviews. They have a Review Depot where several review sites are listed in one spot. You only have to upload one copy of your book and submit a request for review. Then it's up to the individual reviewers to "check out" the book to review.
Reviews...now that's a whole other ball of wax! LOL
So you see? Promoting really isn't that hard and once you get your system down, you can do promotions for as little as a few hours a week by linking your blogs/websites to your social media and your author pages on sites like Amazon.
So get out there! Set up you accounts and just have fun!
Two other authors have shared their Words of Wisdom with us this week. Please click on their names below to visit their sites. Happy reading, writing and promoting!