Friday, October 4, 2013

What if You Have No Time to Promote?

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I recently had someone email me asking how he could most effectively promote if he had no time at all to promote.
I know there have got to be plenty of writers in the same fix.  If you’re new to publishing and you start researching how to market your book, you could end up very overwhelmed, fast.
The problem is that our books don’t sell themselves.  It’s fine not to do any promo, but we can’t expect to be making money if we don’t.
I asked the writer how much time he actually had.  If he really had as little as he said (which was basically no time), I figured he could at least:

1) Be part of a group blog in your genre with a large cast of contributing writers.  There’s a big if with that, though.  IF you have a decent bio at the bottom of the post, links to your website, and preferably a book cover or a headshot to go along with your post every month.  I’ve seen it all with group blog posts. I’ve seen bylines that only had first names.  I’ve seen no attribution at all.  I’ve seen bios that were so cutesy that they gave no promo info at all…never linked back to a website or a buy-link or a book page. I’ve searched on Twitter for authors of posts and came up with several writers and had no idea which was the blogger.  Pointless for someone who is trying to promote by spending the little amount of time they have in blogging.
2) Guest post.  Guest posting on a blog with good traffic (frequent commenters, a lot of followers)  can bring you some new readers.  You can decide how frequently this guest posting will take place. I know some writers who have a regular gig contributing to some sites…they’ll have a guest post every month or every couple of months.  Again—it’s important to make sure your bio, links, and cover are on these posts.
3) Goodreads.  This can be an intimidating place for writers because it’s intended as a reader community and you’ll run into rough reviews there sometimes.  But it’s also a good place to go where the readers are. So often in our promoting, we’re networking with other writers.  Set up a profile there and link to your book.  It doesn’t take long.  If you have a print copy of your book (even from CreateSpace, etc.), then you can enter your book in a free giveaway there.  Just decide how many copies you’ll give away, if you’ll open it to international readers or domestic only, and the dates that folks can enter the giveaway.
If you think you might have a little more time…but not much more:
Choose a social media platform that isn’t too intimidating for you and post updates regularly there.  You don’t have to be on them every day and you don’t have to spend gobs of time there when you do log in. You can choose how frequently you do it—twice a week? Once a week? You can even use a free program like SocialOomph to automate the process…but then you’ll need to respond to any comments for your updates, so automation only goes so far.  Twitter and Facebook are all about interaction. Well…except if you’re what’s considered a “broadcaster.” I’m a broadcaster on Twitter—I send out tweets but don’t interact on my page. On Facebook, I engage in conversations.  Google Plus is another option, although you can’t automate there. 
The catch: although you’re promoting, these updates you post don’t need to all be about your book. The key is developing a brand for yourself and raising your online profile.  So post a variety of different things—cross-promote a friend’s book, share a news story (perhaps one that even ties in with your book’s theme somehow if you want to tie-in), even…well, post pictures of your pets.  I hate to say that, but honestly, we’ll get a lot less scorn and a lot more love on social media from readers if we post pictures of our cat instead of asking people to buy our book.
Blogging?  I love blogging and having my own blog, but it’s probably not effective for someone on a real time crunch because you should post at least regularly…once a week at minimum I think. 
That was my advice, but I’m interested in hearing yours.  If you only had a small amount of time to devote to promo, how would you spend it?
And today, I wanted to let my blog readers know about a new resource for writers—whether you’re writing your first book, trying to query agents or editors, or whether you’re working on promo.  It’s Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  There you’ll find pages of links to resources—writing tips, publishers, agents, queries, self-publishing, marketing, contests, and publications for writers. Alex is a friend and frequent commenter here and very active in supporting writers. Thanks to Alex and his helpers for compiling the information for the site.