Like most authors I know, I feel more comfortable with writing books than promoting them. But I realise that publishing a book, and then making little effort to market it, is a bit like giving birth to a baby and then failing to look after it properly. To continue this analogy, just as pregnant mothers need good nutrition to help protect their children’s future health, experts recommend that authors need to start marketing their books several months before publication.
Marketing is essential to make your own book stand out from all the many other competing titles, especially if it is self-published. So why do so many of us find the process daunting, or have negative perceptions towards it? I think there are three main reasons:
1. You regard your work on the book as complete. After putting so much time and effort into writing and publishing it, you are (hopefully) proud of the finished result, but also perhaps feel rather tired of the whole thing. You would like to start on the next book, or to do something completely different from writing, rather than focus on marketing. But in this situation it is not enough to visualise high sales and then ‘let go of the outcome’; you need to take practical action to get your book noticed and reviewed.
2, You feel diffident about putting your book forward. You may fear being rejected, criticised or ignored. If you were brought up to be modest about your achievements, you may feel there is something ‘not quite nice’ about marketing, that it smacks too much of self-promotion. It may help to think about the process as being about your book rather than about you as a person, and to remember that no readers will be able to enjoy or benefit from your writing unless they know of its existence.
3. You do not know how to do it. Many writers do not have a business background or any training in sales and marketing techniques. But there is a huge amount of free guidance online, as well as a variety of paid courses. These suggest many different methods of marketing, to suit different personalities. Some writers enjoy giving public talks or taking copies along to bookshops and meetings, whereas others would rather develop their websites and blogs or take advantage of easy-to-use platforms such as an Amazon author page – you can see mine here. There are professional agencies which will mount a campaign on your behalf, but my own single experience with this method proved an expensive failure, and so for my latest book Persons not Diseases I am tackling the marketing myself.