How much time should I spend promoting my book?
It depends on who you ask. Some indie advocates big in the ebook market will tell you to spend very little time promoting your book. Write more books. More titles equals more exposure resulting in more sold books.
Arobbinsiii at You Say Too provides a comprehensive list of promotional activities with associated amount of time recommendations that can be roughly summarized as follows:
1. Post at forums like Kindle Boards and Amazon Authors. Arobbinsiii lists five boards that he recommends you spend 10 to 15 minutes a day per board or 60 minutes total.
2. Search for, visit, and/or query review and interview websites and blogs, spending 25 minutes a day.
3. Post and comment on social sites, like Facebook and Twitter. He lists seven sites, for a total of 60 minutes a day.
4. Pursue links back to your book/site/blog in directories (seven listed), search engines (three listed), blogs, social sites, forums, and on any promotion or publicity you receive for 60 minutes day.
5. Write a 400 – 500 word blog, devoting 25 minute a day.
6. Blog and post comments for 60 minutes a day.
This all adds up to 4 hours and 50 minutes a day.
I copied this post because I think Arobbinsiii has some good ideas that I might want to pursue, but there is no way I will ever be able (or willing) to devote nearly five hours a day on this activity.
Fortunately, in the Indie Author Guide, that has become my bible on all things indie, April L. Hamilton writes, “If you can spare just one hour a day, seven hours a week, you’ll be fine. If you can scrape together ten to fifteen hours a week, you’ll do great. And if you have twenty or more hours to devote to marketing, even if you have little money or confidence, you can be very successful.”
I still need to determine for myself exactly how much time in a day I can, or am willing to, budget for promotional activities. I don’t have any idea how much time I am spending right now in this inefficient method I currently employ of randomly searching the web and occasionally commenting or sending out an email.
New Media Promotion
The next question becomes, what activities should I be spending my time on? April L. Hamilton lists a healthy menu of both “traditional tactics” as well as “new media tactics.” Her new media ideas focus on an author website, author blog, tagging with keywords on Amazon.com, tagging with keywords on the internet, podcasting, YouTube, book trailers, social media for authors, online communities, and working Amazon. These are all computer online activities similar to what Arobbinsiii recommends. What I really like about the Indie Author Guide is that Hamilton provides detailed information to help even the most newbie, or computer illiterate, self-publisher to be able to complete the task at hand.
In addition to the new media tactics, Hamilton provides some excellent ideas for good old-fashioned promotion like a press kit, a one-sheet, press releases, editorial reviews, articles, appearances, live readings, book signings, handouts, merchandise, word of mouth, and paid advertising. Here again, detailed instructions are included.
How do I score so far?
I am doing fairly well with the Indie Author Guide’s new media recommendations. I have a website and a blog. I’ve tagged my book with keywords everywhere I can. Yesterday I went to the Google Adwords keyword tool, checked the keywords I’m using to see if anyone searches for them, and made a few changes to my Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords sites. (For example: “hospice care” has medium competition with 135,000 global searches a month, while “hospice” has low competition and 823,000 global searches a month. Very few people search for “childhood memories.” ) I’m probably not going to be doing a lot of podcasting, YouTube videos, or book trailers with my memoir, but I have followed most of Hamilton’s recommendations for social media for authors, and have joined several important online communities.
For now, I’m still focusing on getting reviews.
I don’t score nearly as well if I compare myself to Arobbinsiii’s recommendations.
I could also do a lot more with the traditional tactics like one-sheet mailings and press releases. I hope to develop these with time.
I plan to break these ideas down into manageable pieces and let you know what and how I am doing. Stay posted.