It is imperative that writers know how to market themselves, writers must develop a platform within the writer’s community, create a community of ardent followers, and utilize your position creatively while you do it!
I interviewed an author who has done just this and is leading the charge on perhaps one of the most successful marketing campaigns for a book. Her name is Amanda Foody, and is someone with whom you should know, and can begin by visiting one of the many vibrant social media posts about her novel, Ace Of Shades!
Amanda is too modest to call herself a self-promotion expert, so I suggest that you all take a look at her self-promoting examples to see how she build her fan base for her novel.
Ace Of Shades (AOS) is a book about a girl navigating in the world of poker, players, and gamblers in search for her mother in a city where no one survives uncorrupted. One theme in the book is: playing ones’ hand well. Similarly, self-published authors traditionally and independently must also play their hands’ well and play the cards they have been dealt to create buzz around their work. And people are buzzing about this book; for instance, ACTIVE FAN PAGES have been created based on the poker teams and gambling gangs in this book, ALL, inspired by Ace Of Shades and much more!
From my observations, the source of this AOS buzz is Amanda’s consistent interaction with her fan base. Let’s see how she does it!
My Interview with Amanda below ~
Intro: First, I want to say congratulations on the tremendous success of Ace Of Shades! My audience could learn a lot from how you innovatively use your resources to reach as many people as possible and make your book a success!
A: I’ll do my best to answer these questions! I consider myself far from a self-promo expert haha. But I hope it’s helpful!
Q: Does self-promotion seem liberating to you or daunting?
A: I suppose it depends–some elements of self-promotion will always feel awkward and shameless to me. Other parts feel more natural and fun. It helps that my publisher also promotes my book, as I feel that takes a lot of the pressure off my shoulders, and I have a great team of support.
Q: What were some of the first ways you started to find and connect with your target audience? (i.e. did you attend book signings, Bookshop grand openings, join book clubs, or did you begin working in the industry as an editor, lit agent, bookseller, author, etc.)
A: Well, I started my Twitter when I was 17, when I was first querying agents and getting involved in the book community. I didn’t move off the Internet until after I signed my first book deal. Prior to that deal, most of my followers were writers who followed my tweets and blog for writing advice. After that, I began to connect more with readers and change some of my social media platforms from personal to professional.
Q: In your opinion how important is face-to-face communication in self-promotion?
A: Well, I’d always prefer to interact in person rather than online. I feel like I get to make more of a connection, and I’m more confident in person–though that varies for everyone. However, I don’t have many opportunities for this. I am limited to the events my publisher sends me to, or to local events like book signings or smaller festivals. I’d always love to do more! But travel can be difficult.
Q: What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?
A: The hardest part was definitely getting my foot in the door–I was rejected for years before I was able to sign for my debut. Since then, I’d say it’s the insecurities that are the most challenging. It’s not easy being so publicly reviewed all the time. The most fun has definitely been connecting to readers! Nearly all of my best friends come from publishing, one way or another. I can’t imagine my life without those people.
Q: When did you really start to see a return on your self-promotion/marketing efforts? In other words, how long did it take for you to build your following?
A: Hm, it’s hard to say. I suppose I consider a return to be connections made–followers who regularly comment and are clearly interested in me/my books. I started finding a few with my debut, Daughter of the Burning City, around the time I had a cover and ARCs available. It’s grown steadily since then–readers who have since really liked my debut, readers who are also excited for Ace of Shades. I had a lot of help in spreading my book–for instance, Fairy Loot, a popular YA speculative subscription box, picked up Daughter. That put my book in the hands of a lot of readers who might not have otherwise heard about it.
Q: What virtual avenues do you use to promote yourself the most? (i.e. Twitter, NetGalley, YouTube, WordPress]. Which yields the most response from your audience?
A: I like Twitter the best because it feels the most casual, and it offers an easy mix of professional and personal posts. I also like Instagram, particularly stories, as they also feel personal. People who want to read my book can do so without following me. People who follow me are a little more interested in what I have to say. I’ve connected with the most people about writing tips and enthusiasm for other books–that goes a lot further than just blasting advertisements or something. I’m hoping to write a lot of books in my career–not just Daughter and Ace–so I’d rather build connections who are following ME more than just my one novel, if that makes sense.
Q: In regard to authors putting together contests or giveaways to promote their books, Forbes Magazine said that, “Scarcity and competition add urgency to book buying, and that can help you create some momentum around your book.” Even still many people disagree about the long-term benefits of using contests/giveaways as promotion. At that end, how do you feel about authors using contests to connect with audiences and promote their books?
A: I think giveaways have their uses–but I agree that the followers gained aren’t necessarily generating sales. I think they’re useful to get info about your book out there, but in the end, my hope is more than a fraction of my new followers like my tweets enough to support me. I think the reverse way is better, though–people liking my tweets enough to follow me, then reading my bio and seeing that I write books. It’s more personal.
Q: How effective do you think social media is for self-promotion?
A: In YA, very. As a teen, I never went to book events or anything like that. I don’t know how I would’ve heard about books if not for blogs and Goodreads.
Q: How would you suggest to other writers about how to build an interactive following? (Such as one where fans will create entire fan clubs based on a group of characters in your story or photo collages (aesthetics) inspired by them)!
A: Think about the tweets you’d like to see on your dash, and post those! Be the sort of person you’d also like the follow.
Q: Let’s talk about your photo collages (aesthetics). They are standout promotional tools to me because they offer visual clues about Ace Of Shades, communicate a sense of the what the story is to your audience, and pique the interest of readers visually! Not only that you created an entire playlist to sustain fans until the Ace Of Shades release and of course the Shadow Gang street team. These are all great and creative marketing tools! What are three (3) creative ways that you would suggest to writers to promote themselves and their work?
A: I like aesthetics and playlists actually because they help ME find inspiration for my own story. The promotional sides are useful, but really, I use them for myself first! Those are my main two unique ones, I suppose (though lots of authors use them!) The street team in general has been really fantastic–I smile every time I get tagged in a new post. My only other tip is probably to reach out to your indie bookstores. They are publishing people right in your backyard, and publishing people talk! If you have ARCs, go hand deliver them and introduce yourself!
Q: If you could do one thing differently or better about how you have promoted yourself and your work what would it be?
A: I wish I knew more librarians. I don’t feel like I know anything about that side of the business.
Q: Tell us about what you are working on now.
A: I’m revising Ace’s sequel, as well as two more fantasy projects.