[Valerie Douglas, an extremely talented fiction author, recently wrote an excellent piece regarding what she has learned about marketing her books. She has graciously given us permission to republish some of her thoughts. Below is an abridged version that we definitely recommend for any author planning a book marketing program and a book writing career.]
It takes time for your book to become known. It takes time to build a reputation. To accomplish both, you need a book marketing plan, and far more importantly, reasonable expectations. Here are some rules to follow:
Rule #1: Create a marketing plan. And not a short one. You need a plan for at least a year.
Rule #2: It will take a least three months, if not longer, to make even a few sales. Schedule days to market/promote, days to blog, etc. Consider writing book two. If there is no book two, sales of your book will plateau and then drop off.
Rule #3: Set a reasonable release schedule. Readers need to know that another book is coming. Anticipation is a good thing. And when book two is published, it will bump sales of book one.
Rule #4: Don't spam promote. When using social media, be respectful. Join writers and readers groups. Learn the rules and follow them.
Rule #5: Don't load up on five star reviews by asking friends and family to write them. Most readers will suspect what you're doing. Solicit reviews from legitimate sites.
Rule #6: Be professional. It does matter. Readers are watching how you act and how you talk to them. So are reviewers, editors, etc. They will be much more inclined to work with you if you act professionally.
Rule #7: There are sites, blogs and people willing to help with interviews, blog posts and even marketing. Many are free. Use them!
Rule #8: You have to do the work. Marketing is a learning processs and, remember, you have a year. There's time, and you can't rush it.
Rule #9: Be realistic. This one hurts. If your book isn't in a standard genre, if its quirky or really different, it may be difficult to find an audience - or it may take months longer.
Rule #10: Write because you love it. If you write from the heart, nothing else matters. Passion will get you through. Not the money, but the joy.
One of the first and best pieces of advice I ever read - and one of the most ignored - is don't stop. When you finish with book one, write book two. Then book three. The list of one hit wonders is pitifully small.