Well, the title says it all. Advertising, when you are self-published, is almost as much work as writing the book itself. Personally, I’ve gone down the route of social media marketing and word of mouth. Primarily because I’m broke. I suppose this is the conundrum of the self-published artist/author. How much money am I willing to put forth? How much can I feasibly put forth? What can I do to save money?
I found the answers to the above to be difficult at best. Not because it’s hard to make the decision, as much as it ‘s hard to make the decision feel worthwhile. I am a big fan of IMGUR; I have been for nearly two years now. There is a particular quality to the site that draws me back again and again. Some call it community others just call it good fun. I feel there is a community there.
I am a part of the IMGUR community, so it was a no-brainer that this would be the first place I went to spread the word about my book. I was met with skepticism and dislike immediately. I was not prepared for this. I mean sure I figured there was going to be some opposition to posting about my writing, but I hadn’t expected folks to downvote (Upvotes and Downvotes are how popularity is measured on the site) my posts into oblivion.
I was forced to examine where I had gone wrong. First I neglected the uniqueness of the community. Instead of posting something clever or thought out, I posted my book cover and basically said, “Go BUY it!” It occurs to me now, that is the equivalent of an Auto Mall Television Commerical. I was saying, by virtue of my hard work, you should pay me, which honestly is a bit rude and arrogant.
I made another fatal error immediately following; I let my feelings get hurt. I got creative, and I created another post again praising the great work I had done. It failed too, though not as miserably as the first. At least this time I had the sense to appeal to the IMGURIANs by posting something that would give them a chuckle. I still ruined it by saying “GO BUY IT!” not in so many words, but you get the gist of it.
Finally, I grew angry and upset at the onslaught of downvotes. To me, these downvotes translated directly to my ability to write a book, which in no way is that true. So I made another post in which I angrily called out the downvoters, albeit in an amusing and sarcastic way that could be misconstrued as humor. This garnered me more downvotes. So, I admitted my folly, and I apologized, with yet another cleverly placed GIF. This got some upvotes and someone calling me a Canadian, lol.
I failed at my first attempt to advertise through social media. Facebook, Twitter, and my Blog here all seemed to be okay, but Reddit and IMGUR seemed to run into some snags. I took some time to figure out why, here is what I came up with:
1. Do not advertise/sell on Reddit/IMGUR. These sites are for fun, an escape from the constant barrage of sales pitches.
2. You can talk about what you did, but make it intelligent and leave out the call to action.
3. IMGUR loves free stuff, give away your OC (original content) for free, at least for a short period. Create some Word of Mouth advertising.
4. Understand that a downvote is not a reflection on you, it is just someone’s opinion.
5. Have fun with it, IMGUR and Reddit and sites like them do not have to be severe or solid advertising platforms, but they can generate good conversation or simply some additional word of mouth.
I took my advice above, and I went back to IMGUR. I shared my cover design for the third book in the series. I got some positive reviews; people liked it, and someone asked me about my books. I gained two sales from that conversation. So the next time I took the IMGUR I just showed something I was working on. No agenda, just some photoshop stuff I was playing with. That got some views too and several upvotes. Last night I put up a post about giving away my book for free on Cyber Monday, just a sort of one-day promotion. I had at least four people who committed to picking the book up; this was in the first five minutes of posting it.
The moral of this story is that no one likes being sold to. I don’t like it, why should I do it to someone else? However, if I talk about my book, and talk about the fun I had writing it, maybe, just maybe, someone will ask me about it. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,