Marketing for Introverts

If you’re a writer (published or unpublished), I’m sure you’ve heard about or experienced the difficulty of marketing a book. It’s hard to draw attention to your book when there are thousands of other books competing for readers’ attention. I’ve blogged about this topic before, so I know I’m not the only one who struggles to shine the spotlight on my book. There’s no single magical, free, easy way to sell books, but for those of you who have time, energy, and very thick skin, here is a list of marketing strategies that have been very effective for many authors:

  1. Blog Tours: You can pay a tour host to organize interviews, book spotlights, and reviews, or you can contact bloggers on your own. It is possible to organize your own blog tour, but it is very time consuming. Some bloggers have huge backlogs. Others will not respond. (Note: I’ve tried both approaches. Sometimes you can find tour companies who are offering sales.)
  2. Seek Reviews: This is a spin-off of tip #1. Contact book reviewers and offer to send them a free book in exchange for an honest review. Again, some bloggers have huge backlogs, so they might not be able to review your book for a long time. Others might not be able to review your book at all. Most bloggers are willing to accept an electronic version of your book. (Note: I usually avoid reviewers who ask for a paperback copy. I’ve sent paperback books to reviewers who never bothered to review the book. It was a costly mistake I’ll never make again.)
  3. Paid advertisements on Facebook, Google, Goodreads, etc. This can get very expensive, but if you have an advertising budget, it might be worth your while.
  4. Contests and giveaways: The rate of return may vary, but some authors swear by giveaways. Rafflecopter and Goodreads are good venues for giveaways. Giveaways can be held in conjunction with blog tours for maximum exposure. If the prizes you’re offering are particularly appealing (Amazon gift cards, a free Kindle Fire, etc), people will be more apt to enter your giveaway and hopefully spread the word. If you’re giving away a signed paperback and some mediocre sway, the response to your giveaway might be somewhat lackluster.
  5. Pimp your book on Facebook: By joining Facebook groups, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other authors and sometimes readers. Some groups will let you promote your books; others will not. You can also ask Facebook Pages to promote your book.
  6. Pimp your book on Twitter: Some authors swear by Twitter. They use hashtags to target certain groups and readers. With Twitter, you can promote your book several times a day by automating Tweets. If you have a huge following on Twitter, you might gets some re-Tweets, thus expanding your audience.
  7. Beat the pavement: Go to local bookshops and ask them to stock your book on their shelf. Contact book clubs and offer to gift everyone a free copy of your book if they agree to discuss your book at their next meeting. Give bookmarks or business cards to everyone you come in contact with: the teller at the bank, your hairdresser, etc.
  8. Book signings: Call local bookshops and libraries and ask them if they will allow you to have a book signing.
  9. Write a press release. Send it to local and national newspapers and magazines and let them know about your book.
  10. Call the newspaper and see if they’d like to interview you. (Note: This worked for one author I know)
  11. Get a free or paid listing on the numerous online book sites. Ask David, The Fussy Librarian, Manic Readers, Awesome Gang, Authors Den, Authors DB, Indies Unlimited, and many other sites offer to feature your book. Some of these sites offer free listings. (Note: I have free listings on a few of these sites, but it hasn’t helped sales. It’s unclear how many readers actually frequent these sites, but it might be worth a try.)

Some of you are probably bookmarking this post, ready to dive headfirst into marketing.

Some of you have already figured this out on your own and are waiting to hear back from the editor at your local newspaper.

Others might be shaking their heads, wondering how they’ll ever have the time or money to follow up on these suggestions.

Still others are recoiling in horror at the thought of visiting their local bookshop or writing a press release.

For those who are shaking your head or recoiling in horror, I understand. I’m with you. I have zero marketing budget and no backbone. I have heart palpitations at the thought of picking up the phone to order a pizza, so the very idea of waltzing into a bookstore with a stack of books to sell fills me with terror. The list of marketing strategies above have worked for some authors, but they might not work for you. This list if for those who are ready to take a fearless approach to marketing. It’s for those who have the time and resources to invest in their books.

For the rest of us–the introverts, the writers with full-time jobs, the author with four kids, the novelist battling health problems–this list might not offer much comfort. So, what do I have to offer you?

I offer you unconditional love, acceptance, and understanding. I understand why you’re terrified at the idea of showing up at your local bookstore with an armload of books and a stack of business cards. I understand why you don’t have time to contact reviewers. I understand why you can’t spend this month’s grocery money on a Goodreads ad. I understand.

We all do what we can. Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we have to take risks. I challenge everyone to try just one tip on the list above. Send one Tweet. If you don’t want to tell everyone how great your book is, I’ll do it for you. If you don’t have time to contact a list of bloggers, send me an email. I’ll promote your book on Authors to Watch. It might not make an immediate difference in terms of sales, but that one Tweet might be the start of something. That one feature on Authors to Watch might give you the incentive to reach for more.

I’ve recently decided to promote myself on Twitter once a day. For some authors, this might sound like nothing, but for me, this is a big step. Maybe one day I’ll work up the nerve to contact a local bookshop, but for now, I do what I can. I believe in myself even if I might not be in a position to act on some of the marketing tips I listed above. I haven’t given up. Neither should you.

I believe in you. I have faith in you. Your books deserve to sell. Even though marketing can be expensive, time-consuming, and frightening, we owe it to ourselves to do what we can, even if it’s only one Tweet per week. At least it’s something. So, don’t give up. Email me at tricia_drammeh@yahoo.com if you’d like to be featured on Authors to Watch, or if you just want to talk. If you have any marketing tips, leave a comment and I’ll update the list above.

 

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34 thoughts on “Marketing for Introverts

  1. Good post Tricia. And oh so true, it is a horrifying world out there, and very difficult to market yourself. You are a real treasure and I know you do what you can to be supportive of other authors. Cheers Jxx

  2. Looking at your list is pretty depressing. Apart from the paid ads and blog tours because I don’t have any money, and the book signings and giveaways because my publisher has not yet deigned to fulfil her promise of producing print copies, I’ve done all these things. I post to about 15 FB book promotion pages, regularly tweet about my books, joined the free listings, pestered reviewers, done the press releases, contacted newspapers. What sales has all that generated? Zero. Maybe I’ve just been pussyfooting around the edges, but I’m really not prepared to do any more. I wouldn’t believe an author who told me her book was fantastic, so why should anybody believe me? There has to be another, more logical way to getting a reasonable number of readers, but I’m damned if I know what it is.

    • I feel the same way when I look at that list. I haven’t done press releases or contacted newspapers, but I contacted reviewers with my first book. I ended up giving away a lot of books, but not getting many reviews in return. Contacting reviewers pays off if you have the time to contact hundreds of bloggers. I’ve also joined some of the sites that offer free listings. I’ve been making an effort on Twitter lately, but not much on Facebook. I’ve discovered the more I market, the less I write. It’s essential for authors to continue to write. Those who keep trying to market the same book will never build up a following. You can’t base a career on one book. I’ve seen authors make this mistake. They spend so much time marketing their first book, they don’t have time to write anything else.

      I’m the same way you are–I have a hard time telling people my books are fantastic. I prefer to let readers be the judge of that. If there is a more logical way to get books into the hands of readers, I haven’t discovered it yet. Some authors have succeeded by following that list I posted, but it takes constant hard work, a full time marketing effort, and money. For those of us who can’t do that, our only option is to keeping writing and have faith our books will find readers through word of mouth.

      • I really believe you’re right. If you follow all the suggested routes you’d spend your life promoting. You can automate your tweets, but so what? It’s still just a load of tweets. There are the email newsletters too, the listings you’re supposed to collect. I’m going to stick with writing. I have a lot of stuff waiting in the wings and I’d rather get it published than waste time flogging what’s already available

  3. AWESOME post, Tricia, as always! Well done honey and thank you for sharing this. But yes, it’s always very tricky trying to publicise your book, especially if your funds are very limited. :(

    Cheers honey. :D

    • Thanks, Sophie. Yes, it’s very tricky when you don’t have the funds or the time. For introverts, it’s doubly tricky because we have to force ourselves to do things that are unnatural or uncomfortable for us.

      • Absolutely! Yeap, that’s one tricky lesson we all learn isn’t it? Working without a safety net and constantly working outside of our comfort zone. I haven’t really got to grips with the whole blog tour thing and certainly have no clue how to drum up reviews, so I have a lot to learn! :D

  4. Thanks for this, Tricia. And I’m right there with you in thinking this is terrifying stuff. Bully for you for saying that and for doing what you can for yourself and for others. I believe in you too!

  5. I’ve been doing odd unconventional (and free) things. My book is a short story collection, and I’ve been drawing a series of scenes from the book, if nothing else as conversation starters. I also built an online choose-your-own-adventure style game/story/contest using some of the themes and characters from my story, offering free ebooks to folks who can make it to the end and ‘WIN.’ This has garnered a lot of attention, I’m still working on converting these into sales, but it’s all learning.

      • Thank you, Tricia, I am sure you are right. I probably focus too much on instant results, or a lack thereof. These are the interwebs after all. I am not completely cynical. There is a video translation of one of the stories on youtube that is getting attention and some chit chat. And the game/story/contest did get closer to viral than anything I’ve ever put on the net, I had over two thousand views on the first night.
        I’m always trying to conjure new ways to market, especially ones that don’t appear to be marketing. I know I have some things to learn still, especially in making sure I emphasize that these are promotional items for the book as well as new works of their own.

  6. great advice. I’m hoping Twitter and Facebook will help. I’m trying to build a platform before I publish so hopefully it will exist beforehand and get the ball rolling when I do publish.

      • I think times have changed too. I’m not sure if it’s getting easier or more difficult to be a writer. There are more ways to publish than ever before, but you have to prove you are marketable and will have a following. It’s hard to have a following without a product. It just seems like putting the cart before the horse, but I’ll do whatever I have to in order to be successful.

  7. Excellent post. I’ve tried many of these ideas; some with success, some with little or none. Sadly, we must market so articles like this can really help give ideas.

  8. “… I have zero marketing budget and no backbone. I have heart palpitations at the thought of picking up the phone to order a pizza, so the very idea of waltzing into a bookstore with a stack of books to sell fills me with terror. ..”

    YES!!!

  9. Pingback: Book Promotion Etiquette | Tricia Drammeh

  10. Reblogged this on yawattahosby and commented:
    Tricia Drammeh has a very interesting post regarding helping introverts learn how to market their books. As you all probably know, a lot of authors are shy, so this post is very helpful.

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