I saw yesterday that Wise Ink has an interesting quiz on its blog. It’s called, “Do You Have What It Takes to Self-Publish?”
I think I already know the answer in my case, but just for giggles, I took the quiz. My result? Yes! You can handle it! The road won’t be easy, but you’ve got the drive and mindset to succeed.
Great … sort of.
You see, as I took the quiz, and answered question after question, I noticed that too many questions were about the book.
- When do you want your book released?
- Who is your book for?
- Are you willing to promote your own books?
As a self-published author who’s been pretty successful (if I do say so myself), I found the quiz’s focus on “my book” and mention of “my drive and mindset to succeed” at odds with one another. Why? Well, if you’re focused on marketing your book, then you’re not in the right mindset to succeed.
Okay … again … why? My friends, here is the most valuable piece of advice I can share about self-publishing that I’ve learned first-hand: If you want to be a successful self-published author, you need to stop thinking about your books, and start thinking about your brand.
What, you might ask, is your brand?
Your books are only a portion of who you are as an author – a large portion, true, probably the most significant portion, but not everything. One terribly important fact that too many authors fail to realize – and this goes for the new wave of indie published authors, too – is that you are your brand. You are your books. Social media has invaded every nook and cranny of our society. Readers today don’t just want to stop at your books. They want to know about you. They want to interact with you and see that you are a real person doing real things. They want to know what’s next on your plate, what online communities you’re a part of, what advice and insight you have to give about being a writer.
In a blog post called Platform Building Primer, best-selling author and social media enthusiast Nat Russo says, “Social media is going to be a vital part of your platform. But it’s only one part. Social media is not going to sell your books. Social media is going to drive people to your content … In this new age of publishing, you’re not trying to sell books. Not directly. You’re trying to establish a relationship with your potential fan base.”
It’s that relationship that Nat Russo talks about which keeps your fans interested in you, and everything you’re doing – including your next book. It’s also that relationship which gets new fans to stop by your website or blog and check you out – and then hopefully become interested in the books in your current repertoire. Write your own blog posts. Share the blog posts of others. Keep your growing platform of followers apprised of any and all reading- and writing-related events, releases, conversations, etc. that you are aware of.
In other words, ENGAGE! Engage in any way you can. Get digitally active!
There’s a great marketing tip that says 80 percent of your social media activity should be interaction and only 20 percent should be direct marketing. So most of what you do as a marketer should not be focused on your book, it should be focused on your brand – i.e. you!
Whatever stage you may be at in your publishing career, even if you haven’t yet finished the first chapter of your first book, you should be actively engaged in marketing your brand. Having a brand is what is going to sell your books. And it will do so far more effectively than if you stand on your social media soap box and shout at the top of your digital lungs, “buy my book, buy my book!”
With that said, I invite you to take the Wise Ink quiz. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s fast. But as you do, keep in mind that when they talk about marketing your book, you really know they should be talking about marketing yourself!