PSA For Indie Authors – Part 1: Questions

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.

I don’t get a lot of contact from Indie Authors asking for help, however, I’ve recently been contacted by two very different Indie Authors requesting assistance with promoting their novel, while I don’t what to name the Indie Author involved, because this isn’t about shaming people for asking for help (even if they ask for help in the wrong way), however, I thought it might be prudent to write a blog-post about what they did wrong and how they should have done things differently and, perhaps, this post might help other Indie Authors from making the same mistakes.

I think the first thing to do, as an Indie Author engaging in Social Media Marketing, is perform some self-assessment and ask yourself the following questions:

How much do you know about Marketing and Self-Promotion?
Is this something you don’t know a lot about? Or have you done a lot of research? Perhaps try rating yourself from Newbie, Intermediate to Advanced. Knowing how much help you need is crucial and research is the key. You could watch some YouTube Videos or read some articles on Marketing For Writers, for example: Jenna Moreaci has a great video “Marketing Basics for Writers” (I highly recommend her channel) and Joanna Penn @ The Creative Penn has some great articles on Marketing For Writers (this is just a starting point, there’s heaps more information out there).

What kind of promotion are you interested in?
What is your overall objective? Do you want to get more Book Reviews for your novel on Amazon, Kobo or Miscellaneous Brand X Book Selling Platform? Or do you want more subscribers on your blog? I’m not saying you have to pick only one goal, you can have as many goals as you like, but you need to know what they are.

I recommend writing down all your marketing goals, just do a full brain-storming or mind-dump session and get it all out of your head and onto paper. If the problem is that you don’t know what your goals are or where to begin, and it’s okay if you don’t know what your goals are just yet, write that down too.

What kind of Social Media Platform are you interested in?
While this does go back to the question of, “how much do you know?” and “what type of learner are you?”. Are you a visual-learner or more of a text based-learner? Do you learn better by yourself or in a one-on-one type situation? Or do you learn better in a class/group situation? Some writers are visual learners and like to use Pinterest to make storyboards for their novels and share them.

I have mixed results with visual learning, I find Pinterest too distracting and it doesn’t work for me as a writing tool. I tend to work better with text based-learning which is why I’m more productive on WordPress and Tumblr, although (in my opinion) Tumblr isn’t great with large amounts of text, I’d honestly consider Tumblr to be more visual-orientated (your mileage may vary).

How familiar are you with social media platforms?
Do you already have a Blogger blog or a WordPress blog? Are you already active on Facebook or Twitter? What types of Media Content are you most comfortable with? What types of Media Content are you willing to research? How much instruction will you need? My friend Kim runs a Tumblr-Blog about reviewing Stim Toys, it’s very popular and Kim was eventually asked “How does one go about setting up a Stim Toy blog?”, here’s a link to the article:

~Stim Toy Box: An Essay on Blogging

As someone who puts little to no thought into how to go about setting up a blog or any other social media platform, I think it’s a great article (in fact I printed out a copy), I’m not saying you have to do all the things Kim suggests (do what works best for you), you don’t have set-up a review-style blog if you don’t want to, but Kim asks some good questions and it’s a great checklist to work from.

I also want to point out that, when I first started out as a Writer on social media, I tried to do ALL THE THINGS (as you do) but it took me longer than it should have to figure out that it wasn’t making me happy and I wasn’t getting enough in exchange to justify it.

Now, I’m regularly active on Twitter and Tumblr, I try to update my WordPress blog at least once a week, and that’s working okay thus far (it could be better but I’m trying to lower my expectations due to currently dealing with mental health problems *shrug*).

What kind of limitations do you have?
It’s important to know what it is you can do, it’s even more important to know what you can’t do, figuring out your limitations is super important. It’s all well and good to want to set up a YouTube Channel but that’s difficult to maintain if you have no experience or knowledge of how to make videos. YouTube is one of those complicated social media platforms, everyone does it so it’s common, but common and simple to use are not the same thing.

YouTube channels that started in the beginning of YouTube might not exist now or be successful ventures now because it’s been done before. I’m not saying people shouldn’t make videos on YouTube, I’m just recommending realistic expectations. Like, what’s your budget for recording equipment? What about editing software? Sometimes figuring out what you can’t do or don’t know is easier to figure out than what you can do.

And the most important question of all

How much time do you have available to promote your brand as a writer and to promote your novel/project?
Do you have a partner, children and other family obligations? Do you have a day-job? Do you have mental health problems like I do? Mental Health problems can seriously impact your ability to consistently create good quality content. The same can be said for physical health problems. Time is your most valuable resource and there is simply a finite number of hours in a day.

I’m afraid I tend to squander mine a lot due to procrastination and lack of focus and it’s sort of gotten to a point where I don’t think I can fix this problem and some days I ask myself why I even bother, and let me tell you, it’s a shitty mindscape to be in.

I’m not saying this to put you off writing, or perhaps bitch about my personal problems, I merely wish to convey that writing is something you have to make time for, it’s something you have to actively organise (it’s not just “going to happen” – trust me on this), it’s something you have to want above a lot of other seemingly important things.

This is because people are never going to stop making demands of your time and, with a few exceptions, most people aren’t going to respect or value your time unless you make them and establish boundaries on what you will and will not dedicate your time to.

I also mention my mental health problems because, for better or worse, creative people tend be associated with mental health problems and pretending that this is a problem that will never occur to you or someone you know isn’t going to help you.

I loath the idea of romanticising mental illness in association with the creative arts but the fact remains that Denial and Fear of the thing is more powerful than the thing itself. Acknowledging that this is a thing that might affect you or someone you know in your Art/Writing community is important.

I know this might seem ramble-like or irrelevant, but writers with mental health problems or physical health problems need to take the time to recover and a person’s recovery, health, and well-being is the higher priority.

I don’t care if you have to push back the release of your book, and I don’t care if you have to shut down your blog for an indeterminate amount of time, because your recovery, health, and well-being is the higher priority.

I still struggle with this myself on regular basis, I resent the fact that this short blog-post has taken me two days to write, but I have to accept it and let it go. I have to accept and resign myself to the fact that I will never be able to learn at the same speed other people do and projects are going to take longer for me to complete.

So, do readers have any tips or suggestions on marketing for writers? Perhaps recommend some online communities for writers? Let me know in the comment section below.

~Links:
~The Creative Penn: Tools And Resources For Authors And Writers
~The Creative Penn: Marketing Your Book
~DuoLit: 105 Author Blog Prompts: Banish Your Blank Blog!
~DuoLit: Free Writing & Self-Publishing Tools

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