Break Free From the Herd and Be Heard

cowBefore the publishing world was hit by the tsunami of digital and on-demand self-publishing, there was a certain amount of admiration and prestige associated with being a published author. Our family would congratulate us and brag to their friends about their mother, father, son, daughter, second cousin twice removed, whose name they would drop at any party right after “my (insert relation here) just published” a novel.

We authors had it easy. We wrote to and were rejected by agent after agent, until one day the phone rang and a contract would follow. Then, we sat back and waited while that agent submitted to and was rejected by publisher after publisher, until one day when their phone would ring and a contract would follow.

During those anxious times spent waiting and hoping, we also had the time to work on the next novel. And depending on how long that waiting lasted, the next and the next and the next.

And then, after that publishing contract was signed, the publisher would do their job of marketing, distribution, arranging book signings and book fair appearances, leaving us to spend those times in between events, to write the next novel, and the next and the next and the next.

How times have changed.

Today, authors need to spend just as much if not more time on the marketing and promotion of our work then we do actually writing.  Where once we were small number of cows out in the field easily noticed among the tall grass, we’re now just another one of the herd, trying to moo louder that all the other cows just to be noticed.

And the pasture is getting more and more crowded and it’s getting harder and harder to moo. So, we must find a way to break free and make sure that the rest of the herd won’t instantly follow. The dilemma is to discover where the exit.

There is no dearth of marketing opportunities out there. The key is knowing which one is legit and which might be a scam. If the service charges a fee, how much is too much and how do you know if you’ll see any results from however much you spend?

Here’s a list of guidelines that created that may or may not be helpful for your own marketing efforts. As far as paying for services:

1)      If you find a service you think might be beneficial, set a limit as to how much you can afford to spend on any 1 marketing plan and stick to it.

2)      Avoid web sites that describe themselves as “authors helping authors”

3)      Offers to review your book in exchange for reviewing their book. These aren’t necessary for a fee, but do you really need to be spending your time reading someone else’s books instead of writing your own?

4)      Internet radio interviews. The first one may be free, but there may be a charge for an archive of the show which is really necessary for people to find you.

5)      Contests that charge an entrance fee. (my personal bias)

6)      Unsolicited email offers that start with “Dear Author”

7)      Unsolicited email offers from sites you’ve never seen that start with “Dear.. your name”

These are just my top 7, but you get the point. Marketing opportunities will present themselves , just plan how much of your valuable time and hard earned money you’re willing to spend.

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