Random Thoughts on Publicity for Self Published Authors

The biggest problem for self-published authors is getting people to hear about their books. In this world where over 10 million titles are published each year, we as authors have an increasingly difficult time getting anyone’s attention for our books.

The internet, of course, offers nearly unlimited options for finding readers. With all the options comes a big risk: allowing yourself to get drowned in the ocean of choices and sucked into playing on Pinterest or twitter or Facebook, or chatting endlessly on Goodreads or Kindleboards forums. All the while wondering if what you are doing is making any difference at all.

So the temptation is to hire some help. Getting a publicist seems like it could be a quick route to some fast sales.

But is it?

I’ve been researching publicists for a client, and have not come up with much. Most cater to the well-known authors who (or their publishers) have five figures to spend on publicity.

I did come across a few that would charge more modest fees, but we are still looking at $50 an hour, with the expectation of 40 or more hours work.

What I learned from this is that publicists think in terms of a campaign, which includes press releases, media appearances and the like.

Most indie authors can’t afford a full campaign. We just need a little help, and

It seems that hiring a free-lancer to write some press releases would be beneficial.
Finding someone to set up social media accounts would also be helpful.

But while this sounds easy, in practice it doesn’t always pan out. Once I tried hiring someone to get some speaking engagements for me. This person claimed to have experience, but didn’t have any idea how to generate a list of leads. So I put one together. It was a modest list, focusing on local libraries and small community groups.

After two months, this person said she hadn’t found anyone who was interested in me speaking.

I have no idea if she did a good job crafting a pitch (something I should have supervised). I don’t know how many followup calls she made. I don’t even know if she called anyone. What I do know is I didn’t pay her anything, and she didn’t bill me. Lesson learned: I can’t just hire someone and expect them to produce.

So what else can an author do to generate some awareness of their book?

You can automate some things, like set up some promotional tweets that are scheduled a month or more out. But you’ll still need to tweet some more personal/interactive stuff.

The hard truth is there is no substitute for reader engagement. And that’s where the time drain comes in.

The best way I’ve found to manage it is to do the activities that can be done quickly, like perusing the blogs I follow, either first thing in the morning or fit into breaks from writing. Marketing activities that can get long, like forums or Pintrest, I do on evenings when I’m watching television.

What about you? Has anyone found a reliable freelancer for publicity? Or some other tricks that seem to be worth the time?

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