A fairly well-known predatory company that calls itself a publishing house has a great idea for you to reach the bestseller list: sell to your family and friends! Umm…okay.
I don’t care if you hit every person in your high school graduating class. You’re gonna top out at (maximum) 500 sales. Let’s take a little time for reality, shall we? Because unless you’re Snooki, your name and your acquaintances aren’t going to be enough to push your sales into the stratosphere of best-sellerdom.
Whether you sell to a Big 6 publisher, a small press, or self-publish, you’ll have to promote yourself. Book tours are expensive for those of us without a marketing department behind us.
What’s a writer to do? Get creative. Play to your strengths. Got lots of technostuff on your computer? Create awesome book trailers or mini-commercials. Are you a former police officer who writes mysteries? Consider hosting workshops for other mystery writers who don’t have your expertise. Ditto nurses, auto mechanics, or other experts in fields where you find errors in plotlines. Mentor. Judge contests. Attend booksignings. Contact other authors in your area. Talk to your local bookstores and libraries. Is your book only available in electronic format? Get your name and book out there! Join reading forums, find reviewers willing to read your book. Comment on popular blogs. Often.
What shouldn’t you do? Don’t sit back and do nothing. Don’t shrug off promo as unimportant or impossible because of time or money constraints. Don’t fall off the radar. Don’t decide because you blog three times a week and occasionally Tweet a photo of your recent manicure that you’re doing all you can to reach readers. Don’t expect to get rich because your husband’s coworkers, your neighbors, and the parents of your kids’ friends follow you on Facebook.
Be proactive. And of course, don’t forget to write that next book. The bigger the backlist, the more readers you can reach.