Unfortunately, the Internet is not Cheers and everybody, to be certain, does not know your name.
It’s a daunting, seemingly impossible task to build an audience on a platform built on anonymity. You know that you have something to say that is worth hearing, but how are you supposed to get it into the hands of readers who are sure to appreciate it?
One of the biggest mistakes I see new indie authors making is focusing so much of their efforts on getting their book into a physical bookstore — as if by having a single book-signing and landing their book on those already over-crowded shelves that they’re going to earn widespread acclaim and publicity.
Which isn’t to say that local bookstores and in-person events are a waste of time. They’re a terrific avenue for meeting and greeting existing fans, but not really a space where you’re going to earn many new ones.
So where do you start, especially for an author with a small (or nonexistent) budget?
Thankfully, there are a number of free services and strategies that you can utilize to build your brand and get your voice heard.
1. Social Media
This one is obvious, but it can be intimidating with all the choices out there. The big ones are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine. The decision then becomes where your audience is most likely to respond. If you write on the topics of fashion, food, or art, you might want to pay special attention to Instagram and Pinterest.
If your book is on professional development, you might want to focus on Google+ and LinkedIn.
For most authors, however, simply focusing on Twitter and Facebook is more than enough. It’s often beneficial to pay for sponsored content as it usually doesn’t cost a lot, but it gets your name in front of that many more people.
2. Guest Blogging
If you haven’t done so already, start a blog. This not only makes your name more ‘visible’ to search engines, but it also gives your fans and potential readers a chance to get to know you outside of your books.
Once you have a few posts that you’re proud of, it’s time to get them out there. Create lists of bloggers who inspire you. Get to know them through social media and then ask if perhaps you could post a guest post on their blog.
If you go about it correctly – building a real relationship, offering something that their blog readers would enjoy, and refraining from spamming – you could have access to their audience of readers.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out), is a free service that connects you, the author, directly to the media.
Reporters email questions covering various topics, and, depending on the categories you’ve signed up for, you’ll be free to send responses — and perhaps even make the news. A great opportunity to plug your book.
4. Conferences and Networking
If you haven’t already, sign up with your chamber of commerce, and also get in touch with local writers groups or clubs that share your interests.
Take the time to travel to conferences and book festivals, too. Also, jump at the chance to be a public speaker, and never turn down a request for an interview.
5. Well-Planned PR
Sometimes a little crazy can go a long way towards getting attention. For example, take the team behind the recent Muppets movie.
They had cupcakes with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo on them delivered to influential Twitter personalities to celebrate the release of their film.
The cupcakes made the recipients’ day (and their Twitter feed), and created a stir. You can do the same thing as an author. Learn how to write a press release, and let the world know about your most recent publicity tactics.
Using these tips can take you from no-name to the center of attention in just a short amount of time. If you have any other free or very inexpensive ways to increase your audience, let us know in the comments!
This article was written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases and author of The Advanced Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases.