I've had this post sitting here for a long time, waiting to be published. So here goes!
This post should really be called Marketing for the Indie Author because I'm pretty sure everything I'm about to say does not apply to authors published by Big 5 publishers or their imprints. Although to be fair, authors pubbed by large houses still have to do a lot of marketing work via social media if they want to be successful. I was going to do one post on Marketing but it turned out to be way, way, way too long, so I'm breaking it up into a couple of posts. This one will focus on book bloggers/blog tours.
Anyway, since I am published by a small press that is not a division or imprint of a larger house, I'm considered an Indie author. As I said in my Post-Release Post #5, most small presses offer little or no marketing. I'm not knocking them. I'm just telling you. That is a fact. Believe me, if they had the budgets, they would want to offer a lot of marketing support, but they simply do not. They also have limited distribution--meaning that your paperback will not be in bookstores or anywhere else unless you or someone you know goes through a lot of hoopla at each individual store to get them to carry it. This was never really an issue for me because I think ebooks are where it's at. The only people I know who want paperbacks are my friends and family and that's only because they waited so damn long for me to be published that they like having a physical book in their hands--and almost all of them bought it and actually read it in ebook format anyway. As I said in my Post-Release Post #6, when I am at signings and events, 9 out of 10 people who stop to peruse my books ask, "Is this available in ebook?" Of course, royalty rates are higher on paperbacks because they cost more to produce. Would I make more money if I sold a lot more paperbacks? Absolutely. Would I sell more paperbacks if I had them on the shelves of every bookstore in America? Of course. But I'm an Indie author.
So, what does this all mean? It means that you, as an author, will be largely responsible for your own marketing. I'm not saying small presses do nothing. Plenty of them offer some marketing/advertising, including my own. But if you want your book to get into the hands of more people, you'll end up looking at new avenues, new ways to promote it. Some of these things will be free and others will cost money. If you're lucky to make a few bucks in royalties, I recommend putting it right back into your book. Use it to buy an inexpensive ad or something. See what happens. You have to be careful though. You don't want to spend more than you make. At least I don't.
So what's out there for us Indie authors?
Well there are book bloggers. Many of them can be approached directly by authors. They will accept a free copy of your book (usually in ebook format) for a fair and honest review. This doesn't cost you anything, but it is time-consuming to troll the internet for book bloggers and approach them. Also, there is no guarantee that they really will review your book. I would say out of 30 book bloggers I approached in the last year on my own (meaning they were not part of my paid blog tour) who agreed to read and review my book, four of them actually did. Free is great but it can be time-consuming and unreliable.
There are blog tours. If you're a regular blogger and blog visitor, you can set up your own at no cost to you with your blogging friends. We all try to help each other out in this business so this isn't usually a problem. I've never known any of my writer/blogger friends to let me down in terms of posting things. I've heard so many conflicting things about blog tours though. A lot of people say they're worthless. But I really felt that all of mine were worth it. Incidentally, I did my own blog tour with blogging/writing friends for my FCF launch and sold a lot of books. I chose not to do that with my second novel, opting instead for a blog hop which was way more fun and a lot less work but I didn't sell nearly as many book as I did with the blog tour launch. Can I really accurately attribute the difference in sales to the blog tour? I don't know. But I know when I did one, there were sales. When I didn't, there were not.
Then there are paid blog tours. I like the ones that offer reviews. I had two for Aberration, one with a company that only offered 2 reviews in the entire 30 days and one with a company that offered 18 in 30 days. The first company was all guest posts and interviews. I had a lot more success with the 18 reviews than with the guest posts. My advice in terms of blog tours is to ask around and see who has used which companies and whether they were satisfied with them. Shop around. Look at authors who are currently touring with the company. Are they in your genre? Click through to their Amazon page. What's their sales rank? If they're halfway through a 30 day tour and their Amazon ranking is 500,000, that's not so great. There are a ton of blog tour companies out there now. Just make sure you shop around and do some research before you turn over your hard-earned money to one. As I've said, a lot of people swear off blog tours, but I've always had success with them.
In my next posts on Marketing I'll talk about ads and then social media.