In case you weren’t aware, today’s authors have opportunities well-beyond our forerunners. E-books are a booming industry undergoing the last of its growing pains, and many writers old and young are looking to publish virtually. Every publishing site (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc.) has its own restrictions, guidelines, and pay structures. But there is one universal truth that makes the difference between “easier” e-book publishing and going through a publishing house: One helps with marketing, the other doesn’t.
Self-publishers are their own agents, marketers, editors, and artists. Sure, any accomplished e-book author looks for professional guidance in these areas. Writing the book is hard enough, but marketing it is a challenge.
Okay…who doesn’t follow Neil Gaiman or Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter? Every writer should. In another vein, these authors were successful before 140-character micro-blogging took over the Web. For an emerging e-book author every scrap of online exposure helps. This means your Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter can all contribute to readers curious about who you actually are. Avoid pretentious authorial selfies and stick to connecting with potential and existing readers. Every contact is a chance to sell another download.
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Unless you’re publishing every manifesto you scribble and sell it for free, you’ll probably want to approach self-publishing like a grown-up. This means everything you do, say, and write needs to positively reflect you and your work. Invest effort into formatting your e-book properly, getting it reviewed, and staying in tune with your audience through content marketing.
E-author blogs are the most powerful tools for countering the lack of marketing support. Every download your book has makes it show up on online bookshelves pending queries, but no one will know your humor-romantic-sci-fi-space-opera-historical-fiction book exists without optimizing everything there is about it. This starts with a title, followed by sexy (pending genre) cover art, and ends with blogging.
Make the blog beautiful and fill it with worthy content. Easy, right? Not quite. Here are a few reasons blogging is a worthwhile pursuit for self-publishers:
- Blogging gives you a chance to connect with intrigued readers. Call it “baiting the hook” if you will, but every download helps.
- E-book authors often operate on a “referral” system. Readers tend to stick to a niche or author; keep your fans interested.
- You can connect with other writers through blogs. Have them share their experiences, you share yours. The best thing about blogging is that there aren’t any limits; you can discuss new books, bad books, writing styles, pens, quills, and anything you want. However…
- Blogging is time-consuming and difficult for non-tech-savvy authors who spend too much time working on books.
Professional blogging can help hungry poets, lanky journalists, and starry-eyed midnight novelists increase readership and publication exposure. The merits of a blog stretch beyond e-publishing; copyeditors looking for promotion, freelance writers, and authors wanting non-rejection slips (they exist?) can wrangle in the rewards for having quality blogs.