But how do you know what you should do to market your book? This is an especially tough question when you're just starting out and have the least funds available and the least visibility to ride on. It can feel like you're stuck in an endless cycle of "I need X to promote and I need to promote to get X."
It reminds me of when I was a teenager looking for my first job. I needed a car to get to a job but I couldn't afford a car until I got a job. There is no easy solution that doesn't involve asking Mom for help.
As a debut author you're starting up a new business--you and your books--and it takes so long to get to that step of being published that we can easily forget it's one of the earliest steps taken in an endless flight of stairs. Any new business takes time to build. This is the case whether you are a debut self-published author or a debut author with a "big traditional" publisher, and everything in between. Your publisher may be old and established but you and your books are not. The customer still has to be sold on your product.
If I were to open a pizza parlor today, I couldn't expect to be running ads during the Super Bowl tomorrow (so to speak...I know the Super Bowl is technically behind us now, just go with it). That would surely increase my reach to new customers, but the expense required would bankrupt me. Also, if the restaurant is in only one location, not a national chain, advertising to a national audience is inappropriate. A cheap ad in a local publication would make much more sense. You could even include a coupon as extra incentive.
But before you go offering that discount (which is just one example of a marketing idea), there are some tough questions you need to answer first. No one is going to see this but you, so it's in your best interest to be brutally honest with yourself.
- How much will this idea cost to implement? (remember that cost is not only measured in funds, but also in time, effort, and available resources)
- How much profit are you making?
- How much sales will it generate? Will it pay for itself?
- Will this idea generate future business?
- Will this idea help you meet your goals?
The last question will be especially tough if you don't have specific career goals established ahead of time.
- Why are you doing this?
- Where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, 10 years?
- How do you plan to get there?
One of the cheapest ways to market books today is through social media. Cheap, yes, but is it effective? Is it helping you reach your goals? Do you have time to devote to this regularly and write new books? The answer depends on the individual author. And that is just one avenue of marketing you can utilize from a sea of ideas. All you need to do is think it up, answer the above questions, and implement the ideas you feel are worth it.
Much (much!) easier said than done.
Are there any experienced authors out there who would like to share which marketing ideas have worked for them and which haven't?