Hello writers! (and readers, and everyone else who's dropped in today. But my post this morning is mainly targeted to ((newer)) writers).
Inevitably, no matter what path you take to publication, you will discover that a large part of the marketing and promotion of your books will fall on your own shoulders. From New York Times Best-Selling authors, to brand-new teeny fish in the pond indie authors, we must promote our own books. Your publisher may do some of this for you, but by and large, even the most famous names are out there on Facebook or Twitter, or speaking at conferences, or setting up book signings, or taking out ads in various media.
Where to start? Where to spend the money? It's a daunting task, and conventional wisdom will tell you that in many cases, it's hard to directly link advertising to sales, because so many other factors come into play. This post is not about where to advertise - there are a million posts out there about best choices for you, your genre, your budget, your social media reach.
Many authors I've come into contact with recently will tell you not to spend a dime on advertising until you have at least 3 books for sale. I don't know if I agree with that completely. After all, you do want people to know you have a book they can buy. If you can throw a Facebook party, or book a $5 ad, or get your friends and family together at a winery to sell your first print copies, I say go for it.
But far and away, the other advice you will hear, and the advice I will echo, is to write your next book. Backlists (those books you've already released) are beautiful ways to sell, especially since e-books are always available (as opposed to print books which will be removed from store shelves after a pre-determined time). Release a new title - people read it - people love it - people want more. So they look up your name and see what else you've published. Voila! More sales.
Series work along these same lines. Once your readers fall in love with your characters/plot/setting/world/whatever, they'll want to read more. So release the first book, and then get to work on the second.
As a very basic example, I thought I'd share my sales over the last 3 months, all of these indie-released titles. Now, I am not a big seller (sigh). Roughly speaking, I averaged about 1-5 books sold a day in May and June (excluding a BookBub ad which ran in early May - more about this another time). Prior to June 1, I had 3 indie titles for sale.
On June 23, the Passionate Kisses Boxed Set released. On July 20, Tequila Sunrise released. On August 5, Sex on the Beach released. My sales now average anywhere from 5 - 15 books each day. And interestingly, Inferno of Love, which follows my book included in the boxed set, is far and away the best seller of the 5 titles now available. I have not spent a single dime, or much time at all promoting Inferno of Love. It is simply the next book in the Hometown Heroes series, and once people read Beacon of Love, I'm guessing they wanted more :)
People read books - people want more books. So keep writing! Don't get too hung up on promoting, and don't spend too much time or money on it, either. Write. Isn't that what you love to do, in the first place?