Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Indie Insights: Publicity and Stigma

It's time for another episode in the series of Indie Insights. And today we're talking about some fun--and not so fun--stuff.  Stigma and publicity.

I actually thought about making this two posts. I mean, they aren't the same thing. But here's the truth--they're different sides to the same coin.

Any book lives and dies on word of mouth. People have to know about the book to want to read it. So what's the best publicity for a self-pub author with a minuscule budget?

--Blog tour. Set one up. Do it early--most bloggers book in advance, so the earlier you can send out an in invitation and ARC, the better. Be professional when you put together your letter to bloggers. A 'hey, you wanna review this?' screams inexperienced. So take your time and put together a nice package--Include a summary, a brief intro, a bit about you, links to your various web presences, a few guest post topics to work from.   Then send it out. Here's the thing--blog tours are a hell of a lot of work. They can be mind-numbingly boring to organize. But they are also great exposure for you and your book.

And that's important, too! A lot of bloggers won't review self-pubbed books (we'll get to that) but they'll still participate in the blog tour with a guest post or interview. So take advantage of that.

--Excerpts. Your fighting an uphill battle if you self publish. (Part of that stigma we'll get to) But really, until people have read it, you can't expect them to like it or be terribly excited. So post teasers on Twitter, excerpts on your blog. Offer chapters if you reach goals on Goodreads. Make them want to read it with mini-cliffhangers like

"She stands after a few minutes of silence, and leaves wordlessly. Could I do that? Live a life, preparing children to die?"

--Giveaways. You really control how much you spend on giveaways. You can go with spending nothing, and just giving away ebooks. Or you could go big and give away Kindle Fires and tons of swag. I opted for a middle ground--a mix of ebooks, gift cards and some swag I had made from the book. (All of which I'm crazy excited about.).

--People. Make a connection with your readers. I read books by authors I know before authors I don't. And I like their stories, so I tell my friends to read them. That's true of the people I want to be reading my book as well. Making a connection is time consuming and sometimes scary. But it's also fun and definitely worth it.

There are of course other things you can do--ads, swag bags, book fairs, ect--to generate publicity. And I might, in the future. But for now, this is my plan.

And now to the less fun topic. Here's the truth. Self-publishing comes with a stigma. It doesn't matter how close to an agent or publishing contract you came--it doesn't matter that you can honestly say the market and economy and subjectivity are why you weren't signed. If you self-pub, someone is gonna look at your book and you and think, 'they weren't good enough'.

That. Is. The. Truth.

They could be wrong--but it doesn't matter because they still think it. And you know what? It sucks. Being on the receiving end of that bites.

But you know what else? It doesn't matter.  I've read traditional books that were awful. And it has nothing to do with who published them and everything to do with the author's writing. That's true of self-published authors as well.

So whine about the unfair stigma to your spouse and CPs. And then work your ass off and put out the best book you can. Because in the end, the only thing that matters is the opinion of my readers. And my CPs.


(Final note on stigma--don't feed the trolls. Someone says something, just smile politely and walk away. Which is also the policy you should adopt for bad reviews. And find yourself some people who ARE supportive. Author groups are great for that AND publicity. Which is why I'm forming one.)


  1. What a great post :))
    Agreed on all counts what you wrote.

    Some will point the finger at me for self publishing but I'm proud I've done it.

  2. Great post, Nazarea :) I think covers also make a big difference in how a book is received. This is true in both traditionally published and self-published books, but for the self-pubbers, a professional cover goes a long way in reassuring the reader that the author has put time and effort into their product.

    It totally sucks that self-publishing still has a stigma, but you and authors before you who've done it well are definitely paving the way to changing that stigma.

  3. I know you're right about blog tours - they do help to connect with readers, get your book out there - but they drain time!

    And don't always work out - I agreed a 'swap' - to review and interview someone on my blog and she would entertain me on hers. I did my bit, thought of wonderful, original questions, so that bit was fun. And then she slipped away and didn't fulfil her side of the bargain. That put me off a bit!