Monday, 23 November 2015

Self published books- Mayhem of Marketing and promoting for authors

Written By Payal Desai

Close your eyes and make an image of an author. What did you see? Let me tell you what I would have imagined few years back. I might have imagined a person writing under the piles of books or a person reading or writing at a scenic lonely place. But now even the picture in my imagination has changed. What do I see now is a person, who wants to cling to its laptop but is pulled in a different direction into the muddle of digital marketing world.

Self-publishing is not a new phenomena. It started in 1931 when the author of “The Joy of Cooking” paid a local printing company to print 3000 copies. But the concept of publishing eBooks for Kindle is relatively new. The Authors, who used to spend their time only in reading, penning down their inner thoughts and living in the realm of their imagination, are now forced to become a businessman.  Why? Isn’t it enough to write a book and then get lost in the world of words again, away from the society and people, in the world of your imaginary characters? I guess it is not a choice anymore. What is the point of writing a book if you cannot make it reach to its readers?  No writer wants to write a book, that no one reads. Like any other form of art, writing is also about communicating and expressing. Through their books, authors try to communicate to a wider range of people, giving them messages, sometimes just to entertain them and sometimes to evoke the society.  But the question is, in today’s high tech digital world, how far the authors have reached and at what cost.

I always like to shop from an individual shop rather than a mall, as too much of choices to pick from, often makes me confused. I end up buying something that I don’t want. There are always pro and cons attached even with an evolution.  The same has happened with Digital marketing and eBook self-publishing. Now the authors can save their time from going to one publication to another for their book to be published. But the downside is that, when they put their books out on Kindle, contend doesn’t end there. As of June 2015, there are over 3.6 million e-books available in the Kindle Store. In the ocean of books on Amazon and on thousands of online-book stores, how people will come to know that your book is good? The answer to this question gives birth to the mayhem of marketing. Authors are not typically people who have a business mind. So it becomes even tougher for them to make their books stand out in a crowd. Sometimes authors end up giving up on their work and are lost in the dark. 

One solution to this problem is Personal Representative (PR) and a Social media marketing person.  You hire them and then your work is done. But what if you are a new author? Self-publishing is not chosen only by new authors. But most of the new authors of today’s generation are choosing self publishing over transitional publishing for their books.  And if you are a new and an un-established author and if you don’t have that kind of money, what will you do? If you don’t want to give up on your book, the only choice left is to pick up a hammer and a chisel and start to carve the mountain yourself (hypothetically of course!) , just like Dashrath Manjhi, a man who carved a path through mountain all by himself (2015 Bollywood movie named “Manjhi - the Mountain Man” based on his real life story). It’s a lonely road to travel and you will get many hurdles in your way. But the biggest trouble that the authors face is not being able to fulfill their basic need of writing and reading, as they have to invest enormous time in marketing their book.  Social media marketing is a mad rush and if you want to compete there, you got to know the techniques to survive and to bring results. It takes a lot from you.

5 essential and very basic keys for your social media campaign:

  1. You need to know your audience: Find out what age group, regional areas, professions & educational background people are likely to pick your book.
  2. Know your book: Sounds weird? Of course any author will know his work!
    What I mean here is you need to know the selling-point of your book. What is there in your book, which makes it different from other books of its genre, which is your unique voice? And what’s there in your book, which will appeal to its readers the most.

3. Once you find out your audience and the selling point, design your campaign around it. Don’t try to reach to everyone.  Just pick up the right audience and give them exactly the things they might be interested in. sell them what is sell-able in your book.

   4.   Don’t stick to only one social media place. i.g you are trying to sell your book
on Face Book, but what if there are thousands of groups of readers on twitter, which are more destined to like your work. Build your campaign at least on 3-5 different social media platforms.

5. Give to get: you need to initially giveaway your books to bloggers and readers, who will not only read and review your work, but who will build your brand for you by spreading the word.

The list can go on and on... but these are the fundamental aspects of marketing for any new author. Credit goes to Kirtida Gautam, the author of #Iam16Icanrape – The War AGAINST rape culture, as these concepts have been taken from the social media marketing campaign of her book.

When I first thought about working as a book promoter on social media, I thought it as easy as face booking in general.  But it is only when I walked on the road of promoting and marketing the book, I felt the thorns and stones that hurt most of the author exactly at the places they are hurting me now. In this huge world of digital media, every morning I wake up to make my mark and every night I sleep with the feeling of being overwhelmed.  

                                           - Blog by Payal Desai Chopra

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Twitter : @payaldesai83

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