Operation Snowball: Marketing Tips for the Independent Author
By Chrysa Smith, Author of The Adventures of the Poodle Posse series; canine kicks for young readers (www.wellbredbook.net)
Whenever I visit schools to share my 'dog tales' with young readers, there is inevitably a teacher, parent or some other adult who has a great idea for a book and no idea where to begin. So, I tell them what I will tell you: Take a deep breath. Look at what you have written. And let the snowball begin to grow.
Where is your niche?
A friend of mine has written a book, compiling her humor columns for women. "I figure that half of the world is my market. So now what?" she asks. With a sometimes closed-loop system for the traditionally published and overcoming the stigma some have about self-published books (ie; if they were any good, they would have been picked up by some well-known imprint), make a list of the potential markets your book might cover. With a juvenile fiction series that encompasses dogs, humor and a market for beginning readers, I market to elementary teachers, parents, animal rescue/rights groups and lovers of poodles (my featured breed).
Google your list
Begin searching your market list. You may be surprised to find specialty online stores, brick and mortar shops, organizations and more who might be interested in what your book has to say. Drop some emails to introduce yourself and your book, and let the word begin to spread.
Credibility is important as an indie author. I have found it by joining organizations like the Association of Independent Authors, SPANnet, state reading organizations, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators*, Independent Book Publisher's Association---to name a few. Check them out, join those that make sense for you and see what marketing opps they provide for you. Let your opportunities spread.
Credibility: Reviews, Awards & Recognition
Without a publishing house behind you, gaining credibility through known sources is important. Through the associations you find for your genre, you will likely find sources to provide you with reviews of your book and award recognition that goes a long way to market yourself. I found this with an established Mom's Choice Award group that not only chose one of my books for a silver medal, but gave me wonderful marketing help, like getting my book in the indie book awards, providing space at the country's biggest book show: Book Expo America and sending me regular emails with other opportunities to gain acknowledgement for my books through book review services---and there are a multitude of them.
Credibility: The Media
I'm still exploring media options myself, but I regularly do media email blasts with pertinent info that others might find interesting: new programs for kids to participate in, events that I will take part in, new releases. This works well in local markets. For larger markets, I believe that help from a seasoned PR pro can help: creating a bio, pitch sheet and other material that media outlets expect to see in order to be considered.
Credibility: Charitable Events
Participating in charitable causes is both good PR and good karma. Offering your book as a raffle, donating a portion of your proceeds to a charity, participating in an event that ties into your genre/topic can be an excellent networking tool. Through events such as these, good word has spread through networks that have led me to girl scout gigs, animal events, etc. with other PR people already working on the event, that help spread the word about you too.
Online book tools: I have found other online resources, like Book Buzzr, Goodreads, JacketFlap worthwhile organizations to join and participate in. Some will offer your book as a giveaway, creating a buzz about it. Others will help market through social network sites, which helps spread the word exponentially.
Booksellers: Book signings can be brutal. But putting your head together with your local bookstore can create some unique events that grab attention, sel