Guest Blog by Ginger Scott
Your manuscript is done. You’ve typed THE END. You’ve self-edited and have had your mom, best friend, sister, cousin, aunt, and the neighbor proof just in case. You’ve hired an editor to make it perfect, and you’ve gone through formatting and various platforms for self-publishing, or have handed everything over to your publisher to take on the remains of the process.
Oh, if only it were that easy. I know I am not sharing anything original in saying that being an author was always my dream. It’s a shared dream—a wonderful dream. But for me, achieving that dream was always just out of arm’s reach. I was stymied by fear—fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear that I would write something deep and personal and nobody would care. And getting over that first hurdle, the rejection one, was enough to keep me stuck in pause for a long time.
But one day I just had a moment. I refer to it as my “Jerry McGuire” moment, where I realized if I didn’t try, just once, to push through those barriers that terrified me, then I would regret it a little more every day until eventually I ran out of days to live with regret. So, I rolled up my sleeves, finished my first manuscript and decided to take a crack at self-publishing. (Confession: this cut out that first layer of rejection, and that’s what drew me to self-publishing initially.)
Writing was the fun part; dare I say, the easy part. Then the marketing began. My debut novel was a coming-of-age romance titled Waiting on the Sidelines, and before I hit publish, I read blog after blog on indie author dos and don’ts. I sent messages to some of my favorite indie authors, many who have gone on to become best sellers. And here is the cool thing—they all wrote me back. Every. Single. One of them. Colleen Hoover. Katja Millay. S.C. Stephens. Abbi Glines. Jamie McGuire. They are enormous names in my genre of YA and NA Romance. And they all took time from their busy lives to give me a boost when I truly needed one. I used their tips, went to many sites they recommended, and when it really counted, took to heart their advice to breathe and stay calm, remembering to enjoy the ride.
Marketing my first novel was a trial by fire. I pushed publish and went with the grassroots method, using my personal Facebook account to recruit word-of-mouth. The next week, I started to reach out to book bloggers. My goal was to write a personal note to a dozen every night. My list has grown to more than six hundred, and I spend time tailoring each email to the needs of each blogger. It’s that extra touch, I feel, that is vital. Book bloggers are the biggest ingredient in an indie author’s marketing plan, and I respect them greatly. So if I need to block out enough time every day to write with them personally, to create guest posts for them, to answer their questions, and to send them copies of my book in a format that works best for them, that’s what I’m going to do. This practice has proven most effective, and my first two novels, Waiting and its sequel, Going Long, have remained in the Amazon top 100 for sports romance books for more than a year. I know I owe the blogging community for this outreach.
My next emphasis was on social media. It’s one thing to be present, to post things and to share your own agenda—AKA pushing your book. But social media is just that—it’s social. You need to engage, having conversations on Twitter, reaching out to other authors and bloggers. Retweet for others, and guess what? Down the road, they will do so for you. We’re all in this together, and we’re stronger working together. The same goes for Facebook, posting and sharing for others, and asking your followers and fans questions so they feel inspired to engage in your posts. The more they interact with you, the more likely they are to come back. And really, as readers—powerful ones who share their opinions—keeping them happy, and coming back for more, should always be a top priority.
I’m on my fifth novel now, and I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. I still adhere to the lessons from above, but I’ve found a few other things that work. I’ve also found some things that don’t—at least, not for me. Advertising is tricky—Goodreads ads for indie authors aren’t very expensive, but the click-through rate is difficult to increase. At least, it has been for me. I invest very little in paid advertising here, because I have found that my own elbow grease and social-media strategy tends to have a bigger reach.
I’ve also incorporated things like YouTube book trailers (it helps that my background is digital marketing, and I’m fairly handy at video editing). Then I add things to the mix, like Spotify playlists to share the music that I listened to while writing, as well as regularly posted graphic teasers and excerpts from the book. I’ve learned that planning these various elements beginning a month out from a book’s release-date helps to build excitement, making your first day of sales far more successful.
Finally, for me, I have found the best paid-resource to be a service called NetGalley. This is a service that allows authors to make their books available to readers of influence. It costs me $399 for a title, and my book is available to reviewers, librarians, educators, and bloggers for six months. They can read the book for free under the honor system that they will leave me a review somewhere. Reviews are like marketing gold. Are there people who will check out your book in NetGalley and never leave a review? Yes. There are flaws in every system. But I would rather have one more reader and the off-chance that they will tell someone, even just one person, about my book, than not try this service at all. So the flaws, I suppose, are worth the pay-off in my eyes.
This is just a quick tour of some of the things that have worked for me. And every recipe for every author is just a little different, and that’s okay. It’s best to keep your mind open, and to try—especially things with little risk and low monetary outlay. Because once something works, it can become a powerful tool that will help power your dream.
If I can ever offer a tip or advice, or be one of those “boost” emails for you, please feel free to drop me a line. Check me out online at www.littlemisswrite.com, and in the meantime, thank you for reading!
Meet our Guest Blogger, Ginger Scott:
Ginger Scott is a writer and journalist from Peoria, Arizona. She has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals, and towns.
When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her 10-year-old field pop flies like Bryce Harper, or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Scott is married to her college sweetheart, whom she met at ASU (fork ‘em, Devils).
Her debut novel, Waiting on the Sidelines, is a coming-of-age love story that explores the real heartbreak we all feel as we become adults throughout our high school years.
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