Alright. The title is a bald faced lie. While there is always the possibility that a new author might experience some accidental, viral internet fame for, oh I don’t know, writing silly captions for cat photos, or posting the worst music video ever, it’s far more likely that she’ll be hit by lightening. Twice. And survive.
And of course, nothing beats writing a good book.
So let’s say you’ve written a good book. You’ve got a year to eighteen months from the time the book is acquired until it hits the shelves – or you’re wondering how to get attention in the self-publishing gold rush. Keep in mind, the key time for social media marketing is at least a year before the book hits the market. Much of what I’m saying can be applied to both traditionally and self published books, but obviously, strategy must be revised… but there is no substitute for that pre-launch time.
That said, there are some great, unexpected ways you can build an online platform, and promote your book… by doing something that is not directly related to your book.
Here are a few examples:
John Green had already successfully published LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES when he started Brotherhood 2.0, better known as the Vlogbrothers project, in which John and his brother Hank agreed to cease all “textual” communications for the year, and instead converse via video blogs, which would be available to the public. Of course, John and his brother are brilliantly funny, but I’m pointing to a fresh, exciting way the author John Green built a brand that keeps him in the viral eye.
In 2009, Kay Cassidy began The Great Scavenger Hunt Contest, involving YA and Middle Grad authors, in a trivia contest sponsored by libraries. The participants choose from a list of over 200 books: if they can answer 8 out of 10 questions correctly, they are entered into a nationwide drawing for a $50 gift card to a bookstore of their choice. Coincidentally, in 2010 she came out with her debut YA book, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY. For $600 a year, Kay is building positive relationships with librarians, authors and readers. That’s probably the best $600 she could have spent on a promotional budget.
Scott Sigler started podcasting his books for free in 2005. In 2007, his trade paperback ANCESTOR briefly hit #1 on Amazon’s SciFi and Horror charts, #2 in overall fiction. Subsequently, his manuscript for INFECTED was purchased by Crown in what in what became a five book deal, and a film option. In 2008 he had a fan base of 100,000 when he decided to self publish a high end, hard cover book in a limited press run which sold out in a matter fo days to long term, diehard fans. Too find out more about how Scott created a kind of perfect self publishing/traditional publishing storm, click here.
While extremely different in focus, duration and execution, here’s what they have in common.
Self Containment: none of these initiatives dealt directly with SELLING the author’s next book.
Low Cost: these initiatives could be sustained with very few resources, time being the key requirement.
Duration: each project or initiative built the author’s platform and reputation over time (100’s of hours over months or years), creating mass.
Uniqueness: each project was based on the unique talents, concerns
Passion: Each author chose to do something that they could commit to, and enjoy, regardless of the outcome.
There’s an adage in social media, which played a key role in each strategy: be interesting (or conversely, don’t be boring). So while bookmarks and blog tours and trailers are all standard, and may produce results, do something unique and interesting to produce breakaway results.