So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish…The Third Steps (Building Buzz)

becky me
My critique partner, Becky Doughty, and I, as we geared up for GOD’S DAUGHTER launch week

(Disclaimer: What worked for me MIGHT NOT BE YOUR CUP OF TEA! So don’t take this as the only way to go about things. The purpose of this series is to encourage indie/hybrid authors with ideas of how to launch your debut self-published novel. If you disagree, I totally understand. The beauty of self-publishing is that you can do it your own way and learn on the job.)

So…if you’re following the steps I’ve outlined so far, you have an edited draft of your MS (manuscript) ready…you’ve got the working cover art and blurb…you’ve listed your book on Goodreads…and you’ve gotten the MS out to early readers for endorsements and/or reviews.

I think the next crucial steps, in those (maybe) two months you’re waiting for early reader feedback/endorsements, is to build buzz.

This means marketing. You might not like marketing. Most authors don’t. I just happen to get a kick out of it. Formatting gives me much more angst than marketing. We’re each drawn to different aspects of writer-dom. If you hate marketing so much you feel yourself getting depressed just contemplating it, and if you have money to outsource it, by all means, please do. If I’m ever able to outsource my formatting, I probably will because it drives me nutso.

I’ll share a few marketing strategies I used and the relative success of each one.

1) Design pinnables with select quotes from your book. For this, I used PicMonkey to edit free pics, like from Morguefile. You can see my God’s Daughter pinnable “gallery” here. I do think this campaign was a relative success, as many people did pin them and get excited about the book. The longhouse quote below was a favorite.


It’s tricky, because you don’t know who’s saying what, in what context…but for me, it was a way to highlight my writing style. I also made sure to include the title, genre, and release date on each one, so people who glanced at the pic would know what it was advertising.

2) Share the first chapters of your book. I put this off until about two weeks pre-launch day. After much finagling and bugging fellow authors about it, I figured out how to upload to Scribd. This is where it is IMPERATIVE that your first chaps are as edited as you can get them, because people will be sampling your writing/grammar/presentation through this sample. You can check mine out here. Scribd is wonderful because it lets you embed a code on your site and then you get that totally epic box that scrolls down. Now, this was NOT my final layout for the book, but close to it. The good thing is, you can also update Scribd. So as my endorsements came in, I was able to plug those in and reload.

As for success rate, I got a lot of hits right off the bat, but things did slow down once the book released–probably because those first sample chapters can be downloaded for free on Kindle. But the Scribd sample still gets hits, and it’s a great way to give possible readers a taste of the book, directly on your website.

3) Do a Facebook photo campaign. I saw traditionally published authors doing this, with great success. But you need a tie-in with your book. For one campaign, the readers held teacups and dressed for tea. For mine, I asked readers to hold their favorite Bibles, since my main character doesn’t HAVE a Bible. I wanted to increase appreciation for our easy access to Bibles, as well as give people a chance to share their fave Bible stories. You can see that gallery here on Pinterest (I posted pics to my Facebook author page, and then to a Pinterest board). I didn’t get as much participation as I’d hoped, but the pictures were wonderful and the stories were GREAT. So I consider it a success!

4) Prepare guest posts. Depending on the blogger, you might be answering interview questions or concocting your own blogposts on various angles on your book/writing journey. By the end of about six months, you’ll be sick of your story and explaining why you wrote it. But it’s not all in vain. For each blog you visit, there are readers who have not yet heard your story/heard about your book. I do recommend asking for interview questions, whenever possible. It takes the load off you, so you can focus on your launch. I have a personal policy to try to knock out guest interviews/blogposts as soon as possible after I receive them. That way, things don’t fall through the cracks.

5) Do a vlog or some blogposts leading up to it. I always find vlogs an excellent way to connect with readers. I was blessed to have my crit partner (and friend!), Becky Doughty, visit the week of my book release. Becky spent hours formatting for me and showing me how to format (kind of like “teach a man to fish, feed him for life…”). I can NEVER repay her for that. We also took goofy pictures in our sleep-deprived state and fueled ourselves with black coffee…but we were able to vlog before Becky had to take off for the West Coast. Even though my computer camera left much to be desired, it was great to just capture the excitement we both felt for this release on a vlogpost. You can view that here.

Remember, these are just things I did to gear up for launch. I’d love it if you share your buzz-building steps and ideas below!

11 thoughts on “So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish…The Third Steps (Building Buzz)

    1. So glad it’s helping you, Brenda! Just trying to save authors some steps when they go about doing much of the work on their own, as I did. Does your indie pub help w/formatting and marketing? That would be nice!

      1. They’re doing all the formatting & will help with marketing. They design the cover, but will be calling for a cover consult. I love the personal attention they can give, and that they respect my opinion. So far, it’s a very good experience. Still, I want to do all I can to give the book a good launch, and your ideas help greatly.

  1. Wow – learning so much from this series. I KNOW not everything works for everyone, but I think one of the true signs of someone WANTING to learn is the ability to learn from EVERYONE. Randy Rhodes (of Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot), one of the guitar virtuosos of my time, made it a point to hunt down a guitar teacher or player everywhere they went so that he could continue to learn. He did not ever let himself get to that place where he couldn’t siphon out some nugget of information or skill or technique that he could apply to his own style.

    One of the things I think is great about stuff like this is that you’re giving people the inside scoop – that’s what we WANT to hear. For so long, with trad publishing, the inside scoop was only available for those on the inside. Even now, few authors really talk about the $ figures the work that goes into each step of the process, the results of the process, etc., openly – it’s considered unacceptable in some way or another (faux pas, amateurish, breech of contract – WHY?), but with self-publishing, we’re getting to see those things in black and white. Is it for everyone? No, of course not. But for those who DO want to learn more about the process from someone who has actually been through it, this kind of series is GOLD.

    Keep up the good work, Heather. And aren’t we colorful and cute????? Love the coffee mugs! What an awesome wee visit we had – I can only think of one other “thing” that would have made it perfect…this redhead I know….

    Becky Doughty

    1. Yes! We needed that “pop” of Canadian redhead to really make this pic shine…she would be wearing emerald, I think. And I’m so glad to share things. I’ve gleaned so much info from reading indie blogs and watching marketing trends, I hope I can help some authors out, too. Share that self-pub info around! Thanks for chiming in, Becky.

  2. Heather, I really admire the “buzz” work you’ve done. It’s been a real eye-opener as you’ve managed to do it without coming across as pushy which many self-pub authors do.

    I’d love to see a complete outline of all the “buzz” work you did and how you think each did in terms of generating buzz and sales.

    1. Thank you, Ian. Yes, it’s been a lot of work, but I don’t want to come across pushy or impersonal…and it’s a fine line! I’ve said before, I do err on the side of getting the word out too much rather than too little, because I’d rather be on the radar than invisible. But I am compiling a marketing-type post for Novel Rocket in February. I asked several authors about what they’ve tried and what’s worked/what hasn’t. The results weren’t UBER conclusive, but I did get some good ideas I’m anxious to share! That’ll be up on Novel Rocket Feb. 20, I believe. Thanks for stopping in, Ian!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s