When I was first promoted to head black CATastrophy, the indie author division of Alexis Chateau PR, I thought my life would revolve around working with indie authors. While this is a part of what I do, it’s just a fraction.
A greater portion of my time is spent connecting with, and getting to know indie authors. Through these connections, I’ve learned their personal struggles and fears; and brought that information back to the team to see how we can better help indie authors to grow and find a stronghold in the market.
The main problem is that everyone wants to be a best-seller, but few indie authors ever get there. So here are five ways indie authors can ramp up their PR game.
1. Paid Promo
We tell our clients all the time:
If you won’t spend money on your own book, why should anyone else??
Literary agents and publishing houses are no longer looking to make you big. They want to hop on your bandwagon of success, and take advantage of your momentum. Because of this, it’s important to build up a large following online and off. And in order to do this, you have to be comfortable with spending some money.
For instance, even $25 per month spent on boosting Facebook posts can make a difference. It won’t take you as far as $100 or a few thousand dollars, but it’s definitely a start. There are also other paid advertising opportunities on websites. Not to mention making merchandise to sell or give away.
It might be tempting to sell your merch to recoup your losses when you show up to book festivals and conventions. But at least in the beginning, consider giving them away for free, or selling them for a steal.
Why? Haven’t you ever wondered why so many big companies are only too happy to give out branded goods at trade shows and festivals? Simply put: it works! People become walking billboard signs when they use and wear your merchandise, so make the design memorable.
2. Social Media
To make up for the money you’ll be spending on promotional opportunities and goods, social media is an awesome, free tool to boost your brand.
However, social media isn’t a magic wand that you swoosh around a few times, and it immediately launches you into fame and fortune. It’s a tool, and like any other, it works only as well as the user behind it.
It goes without saying then that just having a few social media accounts isn’t enough. They should be branded. The profile pictures should all be the same one of you, and the overall color and header choices should match the design of your latest or most popular book.
In a world where your audience is constantly bombarded with other options, visual branding is your friend.
At black CATastrophy, the first thing we do when we have a potential client is Google them. Usually, social media accounts and a few featured articles pop up. But what we’re really looking for is their website.
If you’re looking for publicity opportunities, a website is important. Here’s why. It makes the media’s job easier, and if you want to get into the media, you first need to get into the gatekeepers’ good books.
Websites mean we can find all the information we need in one convenient location before contacting you for a feature or an interview.
You might wonder, why bother? Won’t they just ask you questions? Of course, but a good journalist plans ahead, and it’s impossible to properly plan an interview, or a great review, if they have no information to go on.
4. Professional Photo
Publications these days are cutting corners every way they can to stay alive, especially indie magazines and websites. So the days of being flown to New York for a shoot, just to have one photo to include with your featured piece, are mostly over.
Many of these magazines will expect you to send a media shot. You might be tempted to just grab that photo your best friend took and posted on Facebook, but unless your best friend is a photo-wiz, think again.
Remember that talk about visual branding? Magazines have an image to uphold as well, and high quality images are a big part of that. Take the time to get some professional shots, or you may ruin your big chance to portray yourself as a serious author.
It goes without saying that if you’re trying to gain publicity, you should hire a publicist. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful artist of any kind, without one. You focus on your writing, and the publicist focuses on getting you exposure in the media.
As author of The Eye-Dancers, Michael Fedison, says:
The fact is, as an indie author, and also most likely an indie author with many outside commitments from work, school, family, etc., you simply don’t have the time or wherewithal to do everything yourself. And, if you’re like me, you may not even have the faintest idea of where to start with social media marketing. It’s hard enough writing a novel and trying to market it.
I would absolutely recommend reaching out to PR firms and marketing agencies for guidance and support.
Alexis Chateau PR has been a godsend with online marketing, social media, and helping me to create a game plan for moving forward.
While many authors understandably hate the idea of being “branded”, this is an important part of gaining traction. This doesn’t have to mean being boxed into a certain genre to market your books. But it does mean crafting a solid identity, so you are recognizable to your readers, when they come across your work.
If you’re serious about getting your work into the limelight, then email us for a quote. If you think you can’t afford it, we might surprise you. And if we don’t, at least you know what you’re working toward.
What can we do for your book? We build websites, manage social media accounts, design book covers and merch, and help get you and your book into the media. We’ve also provided publicity opportunities on this website. You can find them all here.
The possibilities are endless, but they aren’t truly possible until you take the next step.
About the Writer
Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PR, and head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRcat.
About Alexis Chateau PR
Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with a special interest in lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.