Contrary to popular belief, the author gig really does require a tremendous amount of effort beyond actual novel writing—especially when one's chosen the route of independent publishing. Put shortly, there's simply too much noise on the interweb for any one person to stand out with ease. Everyone has written a book. Creative marketing is now the norm. Book connoisseurs are more selective than ever....And, if you're late to social media or other means of online promotion (as was the case for me) be prepared to look like a total dud with your lack of a giant following.
So what can you do to get your book noticed without investing thousands upon thousands of dollars for a publicist and marketing? A lot. And you don't need to cash out your bank on the tips I'm about to give you. So, without further ado, here are a few of the tricks I use that have helped my first book, Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse, to stand out from the crowd and beat the noise, so that you, too, can more easily pull in the success of your publishing dreams.
5 Tips to Give Your Book a Leg-Up
1. Be Persistent
If content is king, then persistency is your author kingdom's loved and highly admired queen. Have you ever wondered why certain celebrities stay at the forefront of everyone's attention while others—including those of much more talent—don't jump to your radar? Persistence! You simply cannot—CAN NOT—stop marketing and making appearances. Be that annoying fly that can't stop networking or attending conferences or trade shows or book signings. You may not be a literary god, but your goal, essentially, is to become OMNIPRESENT. You—your book—your brand—your message—must keep popping up everywhere and anywhere your ideal readers are—all of the time—24/7—if you hope to become an author that pop's up on potential buyers' radars. (And I don't care how introverted or socially inept you are. Figure out a way to use those traits to your advantage and keep shooting arrows in every single direction you can!)
2. Aim High
Do you want your book to one day become a movie or a prime-time tv show? Then stop looking at your toes and send your book out to some movie directors and film executives! Sure, it's not likely it'll get past their secretary or make them bolt out of their chair to call you up with an offer; but it goes to remind you that you, alone, are the one who's responsible for creating the success that you dream of—no matter of how vulnerable it makes you feel or how much the Mountain of No Response sucks. If you want it, it's officially part of your job to go out there and get it! So, while book signings are fun and nice, if your true aim is for world-renown success, you've gotta keep your aim at targets that can help get you there.
How many authors are there in the world? How many are in your genre? How many are already rocking what you're attempting to do? That's right. A TON! So give yourself a break by doing some digging on what the top players in your field are up to and incorporate their strategies into yours. See what sort of events they're attending and tactics they're trying out on social media. Create a list of all of the things that you, too, can incorporate into your business strategy; or, better yet, brainstorm a handful of similar yet completely unique and completely "you" new initiatives to try. And—if you're really daring—reach out and ask them for advice or come up with a compelling offer to join forces. None of their "no's" will hurt you. In fact, if you're not putting yourself out there to receive "no's" on a daily basis, you're missing out on a sea of marketing and sales possibilities. (Additionally, please don't hold any "no's" you receive against the person who so generously replied to you. When things work out, great! If not, move on and get over it. (And don't post a grouchy social media post about it, no matter how alluring the thought may be. Trust me. Whiners get nowhere!)
"Do your research and explore ways to promote your book by following the footsteps of those whom have previously treaded your dreamed-of path or by pairing up with those on a similar mission."
4. Give Back
If you're following me, you've probably noticed that I'm a professional, huge, die-hard goodie-goodie. The obnoxious fairy-godmother or grandma-that-spoils-her-grandkids totem spirit within me is legit. I know it can rub off as cheesy and pathetic, and maybe even fake. But I can't help myself! My mind is just constantly set to wanting to help others out however I can—especially if it involves topics I'm passionate about, like getting creative and expanding brands and businesses, the joys of following your passion and dancing with the Arts, and the serious need of change in our education system.
But, as nice as it is that you've written something that another human being can read (and hopefully enjoy or get something out of to assist in their own life's journey), that's not really doing all that much...Yes, yes, it was a very grandiose effort on your part to write and publish your book and you should feel proud of what you've accomplished. But if anyone's so bold as to think that their two cents should be embedded into the brains of the masses, then they've gotta be bold enough to do more to support those minds than just providing them with a pretty bundle of words. Sure, historically, a number of authors have been able to get away with that. But moving forward, even if you have your moment in the limelight, it's not gonna last without strategically planning for more momentum behind your brand than just "a book".
So ask yourself: What are you doing for your readers other than writing or social media gifting or throwing swagger at them? Becoming an author—no matter how many years you've spent dabbling in some part of it—is not a solitary route. It's about community and relationships and connections, and gifting your gifts to others, and that means you've gotta stretch your brain a bit to figure out your true purpose behind publishing and incorporate that into your story and the background of the brand you're creating. Because that's what you're really doing when you publish a book. You're sending out a promise to entertain or inform other people by your way of words, but authors often fail to retain their readership as they don't perform any other "tricks" at their talent show.
For example, I love being creative and see it as a super important tool that schools often dismiss. Instead of praising our oddities, we get A's for following orders (which isn't very creative at all). So, in my book, Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse, I invented a school where kids get to do what they love and excel at (which was reflective of the Art's boarding school I attended as a kid). And, to assist in selling my book to teachers and homeschooling parents, I created an online platform that allows kids to virtually attend a similar sort of school to assist them with following their passions and expand their sense of self. So I'm not just selling a book. I'm selling a fun, full-circle, educational experience. My readers get a book, but they also get so much more than a generic reading device.
5. Take a Break
I'll confess, I seriously struggle with this part. It's nearly impossible to remove me from my desk, even if there's the allure of a beach and a drink! And, even then, when I'm at the beach with my drink, I'm thinking about work and new things I want to be doing. (Which, now that I think of it, may very well be the reason why I feel as though I'm constantly running at full speed with no directional markers or finish line in sight!) But what I want to say with that is that it is 110% okay to get bogged down by the whole thing. Authorship, when done correctly, is a heck of a lotta work!
"Being an author is like being a part of this super amazing—yet, super intense and maddening—race. But, as an author, you mustn't forget that the race has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else who's run before you or is running alongside you."
Publishing your book is merely an adventure for your own growth and entrainment, providing an avenue for you to tune into your deepest desires and realize your life's purpose. It's a solo race for you to see how far and fast you actually can run, what you can learn to better your work and performance, all while contributing and encouraging others along the way (that'll hopefully present you with endless opportunities for reward and success).
But be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself or giving up too quickly just because the going gets tough, or you're staggered by the speedy trot of others running ahead of you. Other authors are not actually your competitors (yes, even those in your genre!). They're ghost racers: a way to compare and track your own progress and success, but not a definition of it! So stop fixating on what you haven't accomplished and the achievements of others. Focus on your own goals and desires (and it'll come!).
Tip: If you ever find yourself stuck in Comparison Quicksand—where you can't stop comparing your success (or lack of it) to that of others—you'll have to adjust your belief system and shift your internal focus back towards LOVING YOURSELF. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves as a society. The author race is not about numbers or awards. It's not about how many followers you have or how well you're ranked on Goodreads. It's not about if you're a New York Times Best Seller or if you get your book adapted into a Netflix film. It's just about your own self-discovery. You can't let whatever else someone else is doing affect your trajectory. Equally, you can't create your desired reality while fixating on what isn't yours. That's just going to keep you creating outcomes you don't want! K.J.'s Law of Conscious Projection states that:
"Every thought you think will come back to you in some way, shape, or form."
It's why people who dream all day about doing something big and wonderful for the world, eventually do. It's why people who are perpetually positive seem to perpetually conjure up a plethora of happy events to feed their mind's desire for gratitude. It's why habitually down-and-out people habitually attract down-and-out circumstances to fulfill their habitually down-and-out conversations. The Universe is conscious, it hears and responds to what we say and what we think; and, as the wise philosopher K.J. Kruk continues: