After you have gone through the process of writing, editing, writing some more, and then editing even more; once you have that final published work, stamped with your name on it - what now? I am still within this process myself. I first self-published my work nearly a year ago now and I have learned a lot in this past year that I will share here, as well as what I have researched and plan to implement in the attempts in moving forward. Some may look at my last year and think that I haven't budged, but knowing what I have put into this, I consider the first year into this endeavor a success.
"I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide." Harper Lee (writersdigest.com)
10 Elements Toward Reaching Your Target Audience
10 Social MediaHootsuite or some other social media management process. I have not pursued the consolidation or management of all of my social media sites, then again I am stubborn. I like going onto each individual site and checking everything myself, to me it's more personable.
First things first. Do you have a Facebook account? Within the vast world of social media, it gives you the endless possibilities of connecting with potential readers and it can also help recruit those that will also help to promote your work. What I have learned using Facebook, retain your personal site for you. You can create multiple pages, you can create an author page and a page for each of your books or if you plan to write a series. This way, you may avoid annoying your friends and family in your life that you are connected with, but still have a way to promote your writing. Twitter is another invaluable social tool that you can have at your fingertips wherever you are to connect and communicate. Other sites you should consider are Goodreads and Google+. Within any of these outlets, once you have joined then you can begin researching your audience further as we will discuss further.
9 BloggingWhen I first started to research what the next steps where after publishing my first book, it was suggested Blogger, it is free and very easy to learn and use. My suggestion would be to begin by blogging as a journal, this will help you to learn the blogging format that you are comfortable with. You can create multiple blogs or pages within your blog. This is another resource as well that will help you connect with your audience, other writers, as well as other prospects. It will give people a window into your writing, helping them to connect with you personally, building and cultivating a personal relationship. Share how you researched and developed your characters, era or share the experience of writing itself, that blogging was another avenue to venture. Then you have to decide is this something you have money to invest in or if not, there are plenty of wonderful free blogging sites.
8 ResearchYouTube, such as writing shows that will give you experience from other writers and they talk about what is going on in their fields as well. Have a favorite author? Who doesn't. Find their websites or research them and read about their writing journey. I have found once I start researching one thing will lead to another. I started by researching one of my favorite authors, when I was reading their questions from their fans I read about how crucial it was to get involved with writing groups, then I started researching groups.
7 GroupsJoin some groups and make sure to read the group rules. A major NO-NO is joining a group just to promote yourself (unless otherwise specified - there are pages/groups where self promotion is accepted). I would start with the Self-Published Promoting this is a Facebook page solely for the use of putting your work out there for other's to check out if they want to, it's a minor start. Then, start by joining one meaningful group. This means to join a group that pertains to your field, if you are a romance writer, then research romance groups. Once you have joined then read their rules carefully and start by posting an introductory post in the group (don't include a link to your work) just that you write romance novels and are interested in the group. There are groups for every genre out there, even groups that will Beta read and give you constructive criticism as well.
6 Get InvolvedGetting involved will take time and effort, it might be frustrating at times, but I look at it as part of the career. My first step in getting involved started when I was blogging. I wanted people to join my site, so then I noticed that there were blogging challenges that connected you with blog hops, where people would go from blog to blog for a chance to win something or as a promotional affair. Either way, I started joining blogs and following people. This helps in gaining your prospective audience. My first challenge was the April A to Z Challenge. This is a fun challenge because you can blog about anything, pertaining to the respective letter of that day, 26 letters and 26 days of traffic on your blog and new audience members. Twitter was another way that I first got involved with other writers, it is easy to retweet and help promote other authors, and usually they will do the same in turn.
5 PromotingPutting yourself out there can always be a delicate matter, especially if you take everything to heart. For instance, if no one likes your post, don't get down trotted, like the beginning quote mentioned - you have to have a tough hide. So, have some fun with ways of communicating your work. Write intriguing blurbs about your book to include with the books link. Participate in an author or character interviews and post them. Have fun creating pictures that could help promote your writing. I am very fortunate to have talented family members (It's a Family Affair Productions) that have helped me. Production companies can help you create promotional pictures or art, they can help you produce a book trailer or video to help promote your book, and they can also help you toward a creative avenue in order to catch those eyes of potential readers.
4 MarketingVistaprint or Cafepress to create one of a kind merchandise for promotions. Vistaprint has been my favorite, they have a lot of deals so you'll get more for your money.
3 PagesMake sure to stay active on your pages and update them frequently. Along with maintaining your blogging sites, your social media sites, it is also suggested that you have an official website. Although, looking back now, you can use your blogging site as your main site. Having an official site that you pay for may look more professional, but may not be required right away, especially if you don't have the funding to. If you have a hard time learning and picking up technology, then you might just want to stick with one site until you venture forward to learn another. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming and could deter you from the more important aspects. I enjoyed learning how to use the different sites and the attributes. Have a question - just ask me!
2 Stay ActiveThink of this process as a balloon, maintaining your sites will require diligence, much like keeping the balloon in the air. If you do not, interest could weaken and the balloon will hit the floor and then you have to start all over again. Take time each day to do at least one thing for your book or whatever it is you are trying to gain your target audience and engage them; post a poll, ask a question, or post a snippet. Engaging the reader could be difficult, especially in the beginning because you might not have the audience that will want to participate. This is where merchandise can come in - yes, bribery - ask a question and offer a flash giveaway. This is called positive reinforcement, you are rewarding them for the behavior you are trying to produce - their involvement. The more people that get involved, the more your audience will build and grow. At least this is the theory, tested and proven, try it out!
1 WRITELast, but certainly not the least, continue to perform your craft. This was a mistake that I tend to do, I get too involved with getting involved, maintaining the sites, that I forget why I got into this realm in the first place. Blogging will help you toward continuing to write, this is what pushed me to continue to write about other characters in my stories. Like I said, one thing can lead to another. Not writing a series and not sure what to write about? No worries - there are plenty of writing prompts in those groups that you looked into as well. If not, think about where you want to be in five years. This can help the juices flowing within the brain to promote the creative processes. Just don't forget to continue to write!
I have learned that the life of a self-published author is not an easy one. You have to consider it a full-time carer that will take much of your time. You will not only be the author, but you will also don the hat of the publisher and all other attributes and aspects, where conventional authors have additional help within their respective avenues. The hardest lesson in the beginning was reminding myself that this will not be an over-night success. It is a marathon that you must pace yourself, continue to move forward, and like the human spirit - persevere.