Saturday, September 25, 2021

What's On My Mind: Self-Promotion

Raina Bloodgood from
The Witch Collector
Art by Katherine Quinn

This week's topic here at the SFF Seven is What's on Your Mind?

Dangerous question. I have so many things on my mind with The Witch Collector releasing in just over a month that it was hard to choose one. But I think I want to talk about self-promotion. 

I've learned some valuable marketing lessons lately, lessons I'm trying to employ. It involves me posting or sharing about my book A LOT, which felt like gloating at first. But then someone said to me: Do you tire of seeing book posts in your feed? And how many times do you actually see them? When you do see them, do you think--Oh, that's gloating!?

And the answers were: NO, I definitely don't see every post by every author I follow, and another resounding NO.

That conversation made a light go off for me. After some research, I realized that social media algorithms work very hard to hide our posts. We know this, but when it's us having to do the posting, *we* think that every single follower is seeing every single thing we put out there and that it's annoying. But the truth is that the number of eyes actually seeing our posts is very minimal in relation to our following. But more than that--Yo, these people follow you BECAUSE they want to see more about your writing life.

I also learned that out of sight/out of mind is a very real thing. If you're not keeping your book out there so that your readers and followers see it, they aren't going to think about it. Word of mouth spreads when people read our books and chat about them--sure. But it also happens when they review a book online or take a pic and post it on social media.

However, none of these things can happen if people don't know your book exists. It's like opening a gift shop in a dark corner of Nowheresville and thinking that people will automatically come knocking just because the OPEN sign gets flipped. It takes advertisement, visibility, a good product/service, and word of mouth. 

So, the sad truth is that we authors have more than one job. We have several, honestly, but Marketing Specialist is one of them. My platform of choice is Instagram because I know that my readers are there.

 **You need to go where your readers are, by the way, and figure out where they socialize with other like readers. How do they get book recs? What accounts does everyone follow? How can you get your book in that community of readers?

I figured this out for the genre I'm currently writing in, and once I began sharing more about my book, kept my posts at regular intervals, used good hashtags, and made sure that my Insta stories were constantly filled and moving, my following totally morphed. I'm tracking my growth, and since July I've added 1000 followers without doing anything wild except having a bookish feed and actually posting. My stories are now averaging 100-150 views each, which is a tremendous leap from 25-40. Now I can set goals for growth, because I know that what I'm doing is working.

All of that said, it still feels like bragging sometimes. When I share a good review, I ask myself if people are sick of my book yet. But readers WANT to see these things. This is how they know if a book is for them. And, if we're not excited about our own work, why would anyone else be?

At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you comfortable, but remember that you're a reader too. Ask yourself what author accounts you LOVE, and then maybe take a few tips from their feed. All in all, writing the book is rarely, if ever, the end of the responsibility for an author. Self-promo is its own beast, but it can help sell your book if you work at it.

**Caveat: Just like there are professional ways to market your book, there are unprofessional ways to do it too. Don't try selling your book to everyone who follows you by sending them a link. Just don't. Don't spam them. Be wise. Do it the classy way.


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