Monday, April 4, 2011

Word of mouth is best

Breaking into the publishing industry is frustrating, I know. Many small press and indie authors struggle at first to get word out there. We’re just minnows in a large pond chock-full of minnows. And with some of the small presses being no more than factories churning out huge quantities of titles, it’s easy to get lost in the flow.

But it’s not all bad. There’s a lot you can do to make yourself heard and to get word out there without shelling out oodles of $$$ on advertising. I’d like to give you some tips I can see are working for me and others. Remember that there are very few overnight successes in the publishing industry. Don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to others. Your career is like you: unique.

Get online. Yes, that means having a Facebook and Twitter profile. Use these to connect to other authors who’re in your genre. Make friends with them. Share links. Even if you don’t have a website, at least have a blog, but make sure that both these platforms are updated regularly. Retweet or share your friends’ news, congratulating them if they’ve had a success or are celebrating a great review or a release. They’ll be more inclined to do the same for you. And trust me, they will return the favour.

Blog often. I try to blog at least once a day. I have my personal blog, a general genre fiction blog, and two weekly blogging slots with two writers’ groups. On top of that, I take monthly blogging slots with one of my publishers and another big writers’ group I’m part of. I blog about my writing, my interests and anything of cultural relevance that somehow relates to my writing. I interview authors, artists and musicians. I share the links on Twitter and Facebook. This is a way of building industry cred and helps drive traffic to what I’ve written.

On top of my regular blogging slots, I guest blog or offer author interviews on my fellow authors’ blogs.

Useful profiles. Set up a Facebook author profile and link it to an author profile on What I love about is that it interfaces seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter, and you can set it up so that your blog shows in your status feeds. How cool is that? Every time you review a book, that shows up in multiple feeds. It’s a subtle way of saying “Hey, look at me”.

I’ve steadily been growing my social networking over the years, looking at ways to create greater integration between the different platforms and one thing that I’ve realized is that this is a subtle way to create a buzz around your work. It doesn’t matter how small and unimportant you feel but if you project yourself as a successful author, chances are good others will start perceiving you as such.

Some golden rules:
Watch your words. Don’t get caught up in the kinds of emotive shit storms that do sometimes crop up online. It’s prudent to say nothing. Really. Reserve commentary for when you’re among friends and keep it to a room with four walls over a cuppa joe.

Be nice to everyone. This one goes without saying anything but really, even if you’re starting to become a big name, don’t treat the newbie authors like shyte. Paraphrasing Ozzy Osbourne here it goes something along the line of “don’t tread on people on your way up since you don’t know who’ll be upwardly mobile when you’re coming down”.

If you receive a bad review, don’t respond. Just don’t go there. Really. It’s not worth the pain and you’re only going to make yourself look like an arse-hat.

Don’t be annoying. When you self-promote, don’t do it in such a way to come across like someone selling Amway or afterlife insurance like the JWs do. Share links related to your interests, not just always about your work. Promote other authors and artists. There’s a chance you may pick up some of their fans in the process.

Be patient. Building up that magical “1 000 true fans” takes time. This is a combination of being a nice person and being consistent in building up your backlist and how you approach your self-promotion.

Social networking has changed the way we do business so much in only half a decade. Make it your business to find methods to let this work for you. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Now go like my Facebook profile and make me famous…


  1. I'll make you famous. Wait, that'd be bad in that manner. Love you darling.

  2. Hey, I'm late, I'm late, but I am commenting. Yay.

    I hear what you're saying and yes, I will have to start a blog. Thanks for all the info :)