How To Market Your Novel (Or How Not To)

So, remember last spring, before I became way too busy to blog, how I had begun a series on self-publishing how tos and wherefores? How’s about we pick that back up with a look into my marketing plan. This isn’t so much an expert How To on marketing your book, so much as it is me thinking “out loud” about building a marketing plan for Dominion of the Damned. Let’s all learn together, shall we?

Yes, let’s.

You may recall, if you’ve been hanging out with me a while, that I didn’t really have any kind of marketing plan when I published Restless Spirits. That book was all about the learning process, and everything I did, I did by the seat of my pants (including writing it, actually; I’m normally much more of a plotter, but I totally “pansted” that one), and the majority of my efforts to publicize it happened after it was already published.

So I’m trying to be more organized with Dominion, partly for SCIENCE — let’s do a comparative study to see if pre-publication marketing, and an actual marketing plan, make a difference to book sales. Of course, it’s also partly–mostly, I’d say–motivated by the hope that indeed it will make a difference and I’ll sell a lot of books.

So let’s look at what I’ve got planned, and some of the ideas I’m still kicking around, to publicize Dominion.

  • Build a website. I’ve already done this, actually, although, as usual, I have plans to spruce it up with a custom layout if I ever find the time. For now it’s just a basic WordPress site with basic customizations. Right now it’s on a subdomain on this site. I’m on the fence about whether I should register a proper domain for it, mainly because I’m still at a place where I need to watch my spending. If money weren’t an issue, I’d go ahead and register the domain.
  • Build a mailing list. I’ve set one up already, but I still need to come up with something to entice people to take the trouble to sign up.  I also need to figure out exactly what to do with it once people do sign up. It will probably involve exclusive previews, giveaways and discounts. Maybe even the occasional flash fiction or something you can only read — or get to read first — by signing up.
  • Post an excerpt — also done. I’m also planning to include it in the back of the short story I’m currently working on, which I’ll make free for the first month or so. I might also put it at the back of Restless Spirits and do another sale or giveaway of that title. And a lengthier preview might be part of what I offer my newsletter subscribers.
  • Do a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell copies? I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while now. I fear I don’t have enough fans just yet to make this worthwhile, but it is another avenue of publicity and raising awareness. Also, I only need to pre-sell about ten copies to raise the funds to buy the stock images I want to use on the cover, plus a few extra for the next item on my list…
  • A book trailer. I’m currently unconvinced about the effectiveness of book trailers to actually sell books, but I am convinced about the effectiveness of a good YouTube video to drive website traffic and boost SEO, so it’s worth the efffort, I think.
  • Goodreads giveaways – something else a Kickstarter could help finance. If I can’t afford to give away paperback copies, though, I can still do some sort of e-book giveaway here on the blog. And if I DO do Kickstarter, that campaign will involve various giveaways and prizes, too.
  • A blog tour — I don’t know if I’ll actually have time to organize a formal blog book tour, but I did sign back up to the IWU Blog Tour, which I think was responsible for generating the majority of my sales on the last book. Oh, and that also means that you guys have more guest posts and interviews from other Indie authors to look forward to in the near future.
  • And of course the social networking. In lieu of going into detail about that here, I’ll break down the individual networks in future posts.

So that’s the gist of my marketing plan this time around. What do you think? See any flaws in my logic, or any opportunities I’m missing? Don’t be shy about telling me so in the comments.