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This guest post surfaced like no other here on Write Naked. I had been in touch with Triangle Writers’ member Ben Chaney last year. We met through critique groups a few years ago and he’s provided design work for one of my clients. (Check out his book cover—he designed it himself!) Ben asked me about self-promotion, my recommendations, and things to avoid.

I’ve worked with authors building promotion for an event here and there by writing and distributing press releases. I encouraged Ben to shop around, not to be afraid of using someone from out-of-the-area if they have the right experience, and to subscribe to a book marketing newsletter like Author Marketing Experts. (This is in addition to the 5 Newsletters for Writers I recommended last month.)

Obvious things to avoid: If an entity asks for an exorbitant retainer, beware. Ask how they show you what they are doing for you. When I send a press release for a client, about a week or two later I follow up with live links to the wires that picked up their news, and a list of all the markets that received the release. Also, spreading your book’s name is good – but don’t neglect your own name.

Ben barrelled on with his research, and he was kind enough to send me an email with his findings. I found it so valuable that I decided to turn it into a guest post. He didn’t even have to pitch me, and a check was dropped in the mail to him today!

author publicity

How Indie Authors Publicize
By Ben Chaney

son of sedonia cover

Author of Son of Sedonia

I spoke with a retired North Carolina publicist. I was happy to hear from her that, as an indie author, I had done a very good job getting the word out so far, and could try a few more things to keep it going:

  1. Attend more conferences. Being in the sci-fi genre I can fit with a lot of the big-spectacle, high-exposure conferences on the East Coast. I learned that when going to any of them (especially as an exhibitor), be sure to check out the main guest list and network, network, network. There may be influential people who would be worth contacting. This is also true for past conferences. Send a message along the lines of: “I was there too, and was sad we couldn’t meet, but…”
  2. Aim for the ideal online demographic. Getting publicity on a major blog can be tough to nigh impossible. I was encouraged to find contacts within articles, people who were able to gain publicity themselves. Even if it’s not a road onto a blog, every message is a networking opportunity.
  3. Facebook and Google Ads. This already paid dividends in less than a week. For a very low/adjustable cost, ads can be purchased on both Facebook and Google that target very specific demographics. Both use a kind of keyword system for ad placement in side bars and newsfeeds. You can set these up on a “pay-per-click” basis with a time limit and maximum budget, so little is risked by trying it out. Not to mention that both sites provide all kinds of analytics to show you your ad performance, and adjustments/experiments can be made on the fly.
  4. The Next Book. At least a month before release, put out a “Coming Soon” listing on your major sales outlets. This would include the cover, table of contents, and a synopsis. Start linking to this in social media posts! Allow others to get excited and add to their respective Wish Lists. Furthermore, for sequels like the one I’m planning, the first book could be re-released with a new cover and a sample chapter from the sequel. This could trigger a sales/publicity surge in the first book and energize the current fanbase for the sequel.
  5. Bloggers & Podcasters. All of them need content. It’s worth it to constantly send out info about who you are and what you do to each of them, even if replies are sparse. This is what a paid publicist would do for you, and it honestly isn’t that hard to do on your own. I was able to get an interview on an award-winning sci-fi audio magazine show called Starship Sofa.

I hope I’ve provided some interesting nuggets for you! Hard to know what’s common knowledge and what isn’t with this stuff. Hey…it’s all new to me.

author ben chaneyBen Chaney is the author and artist of Son of Sedonia, a science fiction novel exploring realistic characters and consequences of class warfare in the year 2080. He is a student of sociology, philosophy, and entertainment art and design, aiming to combine pop-culture spectacle with the substance of social commentary. Ben’s original artwork continues to attract interest in his worlds, and his novel was recently awarded a 5-star rating by the Midwest Book Review. He currently lives and works as a freelance artist and designer in Cary, North Carolina.