No, I’m not about to talk about my introverted tendencies (though I do have them,) nor am I going to tell you that you need to buck-up Jim and get out there. I’m talking about how being different can be a wonderful way to get noticed.
Last week, I won a lottery that many authors don’t even consider dreaming of. I wasn’t expecting it, I’d never even thought of it. Therefore, for three days I was completely flabbergasted and overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to even vocalise the thoughts running through my head. This was absolutely too good to be true.
Journeying into Self-Publishing, I was expecting to spend the next five years struggling for readers to notice me and my book. I had come to terms with the fact that I would be swimming upstream as a deluge of new books came flooding toward my little offering to the world of literature. I was slightly depressed that a novel I was working so hard on would come in at the bottom of the pile, and I would have to fight my way up every ranking. The weight of that is something I have to fight against, which is a constant battle.
But, I signed up for it, and I would continue to fight. I picked up all the books on self-publishing and marketing that were recommended to me, I read through them, and I started the swim upstream.
My book doesn’t come out until October, I decided that back in April, but I knew that I had to start working on marketing now. You don’t expect a film to be released without prior advertisement and for it to be a blockbuster opening weekend. I figured that a good plan starting well in advance was the best way for readers to know I existed.
So, I started gearing my twitter more toward my writing, I made myself a facebook author page, I started this blog. It’s been slow going, and sometimes I feel like I’m talking into a vacuum, but I’m slowly gathering traction.
I then decided to do something a little different. I joined Wattpad (no, that’s not different) and I put up some of my writing. 3 short stories to date, and the first 6 chapters of Dead and Buryd. I then created a Pinterest account.
Social media is quickly becoming the world of the fast and the brief. Twitter is 140 characters, and Tumblr survives on gifs and images, posts that can be looked at for a few seconds before moving on. Pinterest is the same. I personally prefer Pinterest to Tumblr (though I have both) because with Pinterest, I can separate my interests into boards. So, I made a board for Dead and Buryd.
I’ve seen a number of authors do this, but when I have, mostly they’ve put in inspiration shots that, for me, don’t really give me much of an idea about the book. The images are pretty and very nice, but it doesn’t give me an idea of how things look… or even what they’re talking about. The other option I’ve seen people use is to simply use it to link to their work on other sites.
This is not to say that there aren’t authors using it differently, but we’re talking about the majority I’ve seen.
I decided to do something different, which can be found here. There are still a few inspiration shots, and a link to the 6 chapters on Wattpad, but I also spent a long time searching out images that directly relate to the book. The bag Georgianna carries, for example, and the actor that I feel most resembles a character. I explain each one.
Have you seen the vast internet discussions on which actor will play Christian Grey? Do you remember the excitement when a million Twilight fans found out that Robert Pattinson would be playing Edward Cullen? People enjoy these connections.
So, this leading to the lottery…
Back when I decided to self-publish, I was at the London Book Fair. While there, I met a number of people from Kobo. They were all incredibly friendly and helpful, and thoroughly convinced me that when I bought an eReader, it would be a Kobo because I loved their personable approach. I followed one of them (we’ll call him L) on twitter. L was funny and interesting, plus a writer as well. L is in Author Relations and Self-Publishing for Kobo.
Well, on Pinterest, you can search for people you know from other social media outlets. Finding that L was a member, I added him.
Within about six hours, L had added me on Pinterest, followed the link to my Wattpad, and added me there as well. He voted for Dead and Buryd, and minutes later, I received a direct message on twitter, asking me to email him more information.
I emailed L, thanking him for his interest, and gave him a brief overview of the project.
L emailed me back within hours. He loved Dead and Buryd. He noticed it because of the unique way I’d been promoting it via Pinterest, and looking further into my promotions, was impressed with the business approach I’d taken to marketing.
This is the lottery part… L offered me promotion on Kobo. This is not a paid for service, I will still be self-publishing, and I am not under any exclusivity contracts that require me to stay off other platforms like Amazon. Kobo simply like my project and think that they can help me sell it.
I’ve been introduced to other members of the Author Relations team, I have been asked to voice a podcast for their Kobo Writing Life program (one specifically relating to my use of Pinterest and other social medias for promotion,) I will be taking part in a promoted pre-order drive, and their UK merchandising executive will be helping me with price allocation, and possibly even a launch event. L has even discussed getting my book in prime position on the Kobo website…
This is more than I could ever have asked for. Every day I see professional self-published authors discussing paid promotions where they must reduce the price of their book to be eligible, where their book will be emailed to readers once as part of a list of dozens of books. They see sales from these promotions, so they are well worth the money, but I cannot imagine that those promotions are on the same level as this, especially for a new book from an unknown author. Kobo has a worldwide reach, they have a good percentage in the market (nowhere near the scale of Amazon, but still sizeable,) they have an exclusive contract with WHSmith, one of the biggest bookstore chains in the UK.
As I said, I was expecting to be at the bottom of the slush pile, fighting for every opportunity to be seen at all, let alone on the front page of a global company.
I could not be more ecstatic, and all because I tried something different. I had no idea how to market, so I started playing around… and it worked.
So, yeah, try everything you want, because one of them might just work.