In today’s media-saturated world it’s more important than ever for self-published authors to cut through the noise by finding exciting and engaging ways to promote new releases. This article outlines 5 innovative ways for self-published authors to promote new material in a way that will help make unique voices heard, seen, and most importantly, read.
1. Release Through Patreon
Creating a profile on Patreon is a great way for authors to get paid while building a fanbase for their writing. This platform gives artists total control over their release and keeps readers engaged by creating a sense of anticipation for the next chapter. Patrons gain access to your writing by donating monthly according to the terms you create (usually about the price of a cup of coffee or a quick meal). With the click of a button, authors can share a Patreon page with the world via Instagram, Facebook, Tumbler, and Pinterest and start making money with the written word. Here’s some more good news–it doesn’t take a massive following to start generating a real monthly income for your writing on Patreon.
Joel Gion leveraged his online following as frontman for the popular San Francisco band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, to create a following on Patreon. With only 169 patrons donating anywhere from $4-$10 a month, Gion earns an average of $1,000 monthly for releasing 2,000-3,000 words per week from his ongoing memoir chronicling his early days with the band. Not a bad way for a first time self-published author to pay some bills through writing.
Seanan McGuire runs a successful Patreon for her writing earning $14,737 per short story with 3,202 patrons donating between $1-$1,500 monthly. McGuire initially started her Patreon to help her “buy a toaster,” but she can do a lot more than that with the following she’s built online. She now tours the world sharing her publishing tips at seminars to hungry writers who are eager to follow in her footsteps and make a living with what they’re already doing; writing stories.
Part of the Patreon game is incentivizing patrons to donate at higher levels by offering physical goodies. For example, Joel Gion offers his patrons signed vintage promo material for the film Dig! that was responsible for the cult success of his band.
Seanan McGuire offers her higher-donating patrons gifts like signed copies of her published works and handwritten postcards. At the highest level patrons can choose the characters and universe she’ll create in a personalized short story. Believe it or not, this approach actually works but authors beware…you will need to promote your Patreon heavily through other online channels in order to build your fan base or to let your pre-existing fans know about your Patreon. Very rarely do people simply stumble across a Patreon they’d like to donate to monthly, unsolicited. As with all forms of promotion you have to make them want it, but even a meager following will help you generate some income for the stories you’re already creating.
2. Publish Via Amazon’s KDP
There are good reasons why Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the most popular route for today’s authors to self-publish. Amazon gives self-published novelists the ability to reach a wide audience and build a solid fan base by giving their writing away for free or for very cheap. Now, that’s not what some writers want to hear…but hey, it works. Giving your first (or first few) self-published titles away for free or for $.99 as an ebook download may open the door to viral success which will generate income further down the line. This works especially well with genre-specific books like YA fantasy or sci-fi horror for getting your book to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list within your genre. In some cases this can happen with just a thousand or so downloads. This will help your credibility as an author, get eyes on your book, and make people aware of your existence.
3. Collaborate With An Established Visual Artist
Hire an artist with a following to create the cover art for your release. Just as 1960’s avant-garde legends The Velvet Underground would have never been signed to a record deal without being the adopted darlings of pop-art powerhouse Andy Warhol, little-known authors can apply a similar principle by hiring an established visual artist to create the cover art for a novel.
Working with an established artist works on multiple levels to build awareness of your book by adding credibility to “your brand” while generating more interest in your work. A compelling cover art design by an established artist with a following of their own is like spraying lighter fluid on the singular flame that is your book. There’s a good chance the artist you hire will promote your book through their channels, which will help spread the word and expand your fan base.
4. Make A Book Trailer!
How many hours of daily screen time do you spend scrolling and browsing through social media and other web wormholes? You’re not alone! People love visuals. Book trailers are a highly effective way to promote your book that works across all platforms. For as low as $500 authors can create a teaser trailer for their book, or for a bit of a higher budget, a full-on cinematic trailer that will sell a book like it’s already a feature film.
Oh yeah, and it’s essential to hire a pro to craft a well-made book trailer in order for it to work. Editor, author, and publisher Thalia Newland makes a good point about the importance of going pro with your trailer.
“If you pay a professional to do a book trailer for you, it’s going to cost you, but you’ll have a professional product that you can be proud of, one you know will be a good advocate for your book. Can you afford to put out anything that doesn’t look professional? It’s the same reason you employ a cover artist and an editor: without professional assistance, your book is simply not going to be up to basic publishing standards. A book trailer that looks shoddy will do your book more harm than good because it will give the impression that your book is shoddy too.”
Once your compelling book trailer has been crafted, upload it to YouTube, share it across all social media platforms, and do whatever it takes to rake in the views. Book trailers work in today’s ADHD viewing world because, like good writing, they have the ability to conjure up the emotion of the universe you’ve created in a concise way that is easy to consume. As the adage goes, content is king. Follow the next step to turn those viewers into readers!
5. Embrace Social Media
Let’s face it, there’s no way around social media for self-published authors who are trying to promote their latest release. Many authors view ancillary services like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as a nuisance or a vanity forum, but that’s simply not the case anymore. Social media is the most effective way to consistently promote your work by leveraging your following to generate downloads or sales of your book. Release your inhibitions and let your fans get to know you personally! This method is tried and true, and thousands of artists are using it to their advantage. Why not you?
Tips for building an effective social media marketing campaign:
- Create amazing content. What does this mean? Well, for starters you need to write a compelling story. Once that’s been done, your cover art (preferably made by an established artist with a following of their own) will be the eye-candy you need to catch the attention of scrollers aka future readers. A professional book trailer is an extremely effective way to engage your social media following with the world of your story and convert casual viewers into readers who will subscribe to your Patreon or download your Kindle ebook through Amazon.
- Start an online ad campaign. This can be done by boosting a post of your book trailer on Instagram or Facebook for as little as five bucks a day. Run your campaign for a few days, a week, or a month prior to your ebook release and let your following download the ebook for free or on the cheap to boost your numbers. Ongoing Instagram and Facebook campaigns are perhaps the most effective way to move traffic to your Patreon where folks can scope out your special offerings for a few bucks a month, which can add up to a profitable side-income for authors, budding or well-established. YouTube and Google Ads will drive traffic to your book trailer by boosting it to the top of search engine results. Remember, YouTube is the second most popular search engine right behind the number-one giant, Google. Harness their energies!
- Use hashtags. Twitter is the author’s social media platform. Agents, publishers, and genre fans with voracious reading appetites use hashtags to find new authors. So use them!
Effective twitter hashtags for authors:
- Promo. #BookTrailer. #99c. #BookGiveaway. #Amazon. #eBook. #eReaders. #Bookbuzz.
- Genre. #UrbanFantasy. #YA. #Paranormal. #Scifi. #Romance. #Erotica.
- Agents and publishers. #Querytip. #AmQuerying. #LiteraryFiction. #LiteraryQuotes. #LiterarySwag. #LiteraryAgent. #Publisher. #BookTrailer.
For more insight into promoting your book trailer, check out How To Use A Book Trailer To Market Your Book.