I know, we all sort of groan when we talk about having to promote our books. At least I do. I'm a writer, who would have thought I'd be my own best agent? Well, that's what happens, especially if you are self-published. Not that being self-published is bad, it isn't. But it does require more work.
There is no way now days to publish a book and not have to do some promotional work yourself. Even the big publishers make you work more. Get your name out there, do your footwork, join this and that list.
However, promoting can take on many different hats. It can be as big as a booksigning, or as small as running an ad on a genre friendly site.
How do you promote your work?
Chances are, you do many little things to try to help.
Now talking on lists is a good thing, if you have a list with readers. If they are all writers it might not do as much good. Writers are your competition, make no mistake about that. So join some lists that offer something different. Maybe you need to research something, join a list, ask questions, tell them why you need info, and tell them about your book. Unless the list won't let you. Even though writers do read. Now days with having to put out books like lemonade at a stand on a hot day, it is hard to spend your time reading, and sometimes you just want to get away from the whole industry so you can clear your head. I know I do.
Sometimes I just want to go to a grandkid's party or watch a favorite movie, or go shopping. Anything to get my mind off of something that has stumped me for days and I see no progress. Reading is beneficial to a writer, as it gives a different perspective to you. The reason is simple, you didn't write it, and sometimes a writer will shake their head and "no" a book to death all because a writer would write it differently. But the good thing is, it sometimes gives you a way of looking at your own work in a different light. If it's a good book, you have to ask yourself why? Is it merely the hot cover. Is it a strong plot, or you fell in love with the hero. Something turned you on to this writer's work. That's the key for you to find what makes a good book. Your own opinion, but what is it based on?
There are sites that help promote you. I ran into one that used to be around, left and came back. It's a great site and I signed up for it today. Cold Coffee Café. They offer tons of ways of advertising your book at little to no cost. You get a free page to set up like you like. You talk about your book, you talk to other people on the site. You discuss, join in on things, get interviewed. All kinds of stuff. They take all kinds of works too. So check them out.
The Romance Studio, you can advertise, you can run book giveaways, enter contests, and if you aren't self-published you can get reviewed. The Romance Review promotes books too. There are so many places on line that can help you. I've even heard some writers say they get connections and seen on Amazon's chat lists. Pre-order is another good way to promote the book before it even comes out. Smashwords encourages this and sales are better using this avenue.
Now one thing not many talk about is traffic. Did you know that if you don't improve traffic on your site, this is a major problem. And traffic often costs money. Some have paid a lot to get traffic on their sites. There are cheaper sites that offer traffic. Blogging can increase traffic, to some degree. But the real deal is high end cost.
Finding sites that list you on specialty type sites helps too. Why, it gets customers that you wouldn't ordinarily be in front of. A sewing group, a arts group, a club. Any of these can help distribute your work, by either talking on their lists, or contributing.
But one thing I do know that helps, and a lot of writers won't do this, is offering some of your work for free. The word free catches almost everyone's eye. Especially in our economy. If they like the first one, they might try the others in the series. And yes, it helps to have series books, because this way people will want to read all about the other people from the first book. This entices them to try you. Let me warn you now, some complain even about a free book. Why I don't know, I suspicion it is not the average reader though.
Reviews help. And reviews from good sites like The Romance Studio, The Romance Review, many others I could mention. Using a review to promote the book is good too. Use this tool as much as you can. Join lists that your book might contribute to the conversation. Like a few years ago, quilting was a big thing. It still may be, I don't write much about quilting.
Promotion is as big as you want to make it. Or as small.
So stop groaning and use your imagination. We write with imagination all the time, so why not use it to promote ourselves. Even if others don't agree with you, you'll never know until you try it. Think of something that a store manager might do to entice you to buy something. It's the same with our books.
Promoting is hard work, but the effort you put in to it will either teach you something, or you will gain something from it.
Remember this, promoting is not much different than trying to sell a car, or enticing someone to buy a dress. Give the customer what they want and they grab it.
I've seen new writers offer free books. Or cheap ones to get their name out there. It works.
It's an ever growing job, but sometimes it pays off plenty. So use your head, don't go into debt to advertise. A lot of the time advertising doesn't work. Unless you already have a name, then it does.
But try different outlets. See what works for you. Go to it. And sell a million. And above all, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. You can. Just find what works for you!
Love and blessings everyone