How many blogs / posts / books have you read entitled “How to be a successful writer”? How many times have you read the same words, over and over again? There are several “rules” to being a writer, or more how to market and publicise your books. And I can’t abide them.
Have an active social media presence on pretty much every single social media site that exists and keep it professional
I have an account on FB (in fact I have two – one personal, one author). I am on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. But I don’t have time to update every single one on an hourly basis with links to my books and promos, adverts etc. Contrary to common belief, I do not spend all day on my laptop. I have a family, and a life outside of work – like most of you do I should think, and that is exactly what writing is. Work.
With regards to keeping it professional, I don’t believe that readers and fans want to be bombarded with my books over and over again. Twitter is generally book related. Facebook is a mix of both, but Pinterest and Instagram are there for my readers and followers to have a small look into my life. Yes, I post pictures of food and cats. Because I’m human, I’m a woman, and I like food and cats.
Sign-up, join, and contribute to as many web forums as you possibly can, especially Goodreads and Amazon
For the same reason I don’t post to Facebook and Twitter every single day, I do not contribute to forums. I get fed up of trolls – I’ve been the victim of one on Goodreads, where I was accused of being a “badly behaving author”, despite not actually having said a word. I was banned from groups for spamming, after being asked by the creator to put up a post for one of my books. And I did – just the one, but then she reported me for spamming the group. Go figure. These incidents left a bad taste in my mouth, so I avoid forums whenever I can.
Write on your blog every single day and keep it book-related, genre-related, and different
Again. I don’t have time to write on my blog every day, or even every week! I try to keep it book / genre related, but sometimes I like to put up something personal, so that my readers and followers can see that I am human and not some typing machine.
Build a website and keep it up-to-date, make sure you hit all the SEO values! Hire someone if you have to
I have a website, it’s up-to-date, but it probably doesn’t hit the SEO values, and I did it for free through Wix.com. It’s not great, but I can’t afford to hire someone to make it fantastic and noticeable.
Talk about your book to absolutely everyone who will listen. Go into bookshops and leave your bookmarks / postcards / business cards in someone else’s book. Create a street team
I have a low boredom threshold. When someone bleats on and on about their book, I get bored and move on, and will probably not buy their book because it is probably as boring as they are. So I won’t push my books on to other people either. If you want to read it, fab! If you don’t, well you can’t please everyone. And as for putting bookmarks etc into other people’s books in a bookshop… Well I spoke to a friend who works in a bookshop about this practice, and was told that in no uncertain terms is this acceptable. Yes, managers are often pleased to take bookmarks and postcards or business cards to hand out or put in carrier bags, but if you put them in other people’s works, and without the permission of either them or the manager of the shop, you are being just rude and are going to end up with a bad reputation.
And finally… Pay for marketing, reviews, and publicity
Again, I can’t afford it. I’ve written 6 books now, 5 published, one being edited. 5 books are selling, not badly but not well either – probably because I break all the rules – but it means that I do not have any spare cash to pay for marketing and publicity. I do occasionally pay for blog tours, release blitzes and alike, but I don’t like paying for reviews, and if someone offers me a guaranteed 5-star review, then I turn them down flat.