Hoorah! We’re at the halfway mark at last. Sorry, did I sound too pleased about it? Thing is, when I signed up for this challenge, I had no idea we’d be in this rather surreal situation, and if I had known I’d probably not have done it. It’s hard to focus when so much is going on in the world. Frankly, I’m torn between wanting to work, work, work on my next novel, to distract myself, or plonk myself in an armchair, listen to a good book (yes, I finally took the plunge and signed up to Audible!) and eat chocolate all day. That’s just the way I roll right now. And if I carry on eating that much chocolate I will roll, I can tell you.
So, here we are at the letter M which, in my mind at least, stands for Midway. Because here we are at the midway point of the challenge. In other news, M also stands for:
Oh, did I hear a groan from the back, there? Authors notoriously hate marketing, and there’s no wonder, really. Given that many writers are quite reluctant to “bang their own drum”, so to speak, it goes against the grain to have to announce to the world and its wife that we have a new book out, and it’s fantastic, and you really should buy it if you know what’s good for you. I mean, who can feel comfortable doing that? The problem is, if you don’t get a grip on marketing, your book is just going to sink without trace. Who will buy it if they don’t know it exists? So you have to go for it. Be brave. For indie authors, a good trick is to focus on the fact that you’re also a publisher. Imagine you’ve just published a book by another author. What would you be doing for them? What would you say about their book? You wouldn’t be reluctant to promote it then, would you? Oh no, you’d be banging on about it for all you’re worth. So do the same for your book. You’re your own publisher, after all. Do your job! Here’s a fabulous post from BookBub which details 119 (yes! 119!) book marketing ideas.
One of the best ways to build a readership is to start a mailing list. I made a classic mistake by not doing that from the start. It’s only in recent months that I’ve realised how important it is. Think about it. If the Mighty ‘Zon was to go, er, belly up, and you’re exclusive with them, where do you reach your readers? If Facebook crashed, or Twitter went bankrupt, or your website was accidentally deleted, or cripes, all of the above (!) what’s left? Your mailing list, that’s what. Through contacting your readers directly, you could still let them know that you have a new book out, and it’s fabulous, and they’re going to love it, and even though the Mighty ‘Zon has gone belly up they can still buy it from (insert appropriate outlets here). See?
The good thing about mailing lists is that it’s yours. No one else owns it. You’ve been given permission by those lovely readers to store their email address and this is where it really comes into its own. Through your email list you can let them know about special offers on your books, about new releases, or cover reveals. You can offer them stuff as a thank you, and you can build up a real relationship between you and them that, if you’re very lucky, can flourish and thrive and last for – well, for as long as you want really. There are, of course, rules around mailing lists. You have to understand that a person’s email address is a precious commodity, and you must protect it by law. You can’t share it with anyone else, or use it for anything other than the reason they gave it to you. Here’s the fabulous Joanna Penn again on this very subject. Or read this post on Reedsy. You can also sign up to a free course on mailing lists here, which brings me neatly to:
Mark Dawson is, like, the guru of indie publishing. He is the founder of Self-Publishing Formula, which he describes as a “one-stop shop for everything you need to know about self-publishing”. He’s a top-selling author in his own right, and his sales figures are astronomical, so he knows what he’s talking about. I signed up to one of Mark’s courses a few weeks ago, and I’m slowly and steadily working my way through it, learning so much along the way. They’re not cheap, but you do get a “cooling off” period so, if you decide you’re not going to get along with them, you can cancel and get your money back. You can also pay in instalments, which is very useful. There are loads of testimonies from satisfied participants in the courses, and having read through the course material I’m pretty sure that I’m going to learn a lot. Mark also has a blog which is packed with information, he does podcasts which you can sign up to here, and there’s a Facebook page and private groups that you can join. If you want to know about advertising, mailing lists, writing non-fiction or anything else, you couldn’t do better than to check out his site.
That’s all for today, and for the letter M. Join me tomorrow when we’ll be moving on to the letter N, and the second half of the A to Z Challenge. Have a lovely day and stay safe.