The difficulties of marketing a book on a budget

So it’s week 2 of the release of Crystal and Wand, and I am not nearly where I want to be or have been in the past with promoting my book. Still waiting on another paycheque before I can put my order in for a crate of paperbacks, plus get some swag going — it’s driving me crazy that I don’t even have the business cards yet. I’ve always preferred having complete sets of whatever, when I’m able to be a collector of something (although that doesn’t necessarily mean I have complete sets . . . just that it’s supremely irritating when I don’t).

But I digress . . .

While I’m waiting, I’m trying to figure out how to get potential (and past) readers to notice that the book is out. Advertising is a necessary evil. Without it, readers won’t know it’s there, but doing too much feels pushy and rude. It’s important to make the product (whether it’s my book or something else) available and visible, so someone who is looking for that particular thing will know it’s there, but there’s also a measure of providing temptation so that the someone who didn’t set out to buy it will want to on the basis of on-the-spot decision making. 

All of which is much more difficult if your product is only available to be seen online. 

So, I’m making an effort to tweet more about the Talbot Trilogy — not every day, because I don’t want to be rude or pushy or seem arrogant, (I do worry about that), but every few days. Mentions on this blog, too. Talking it up among people I know, and hoping that someone will be kind enough or taken enough by the work to pass it on to others.

Then, there’s the online party, which I’d hoped to have done by now and I’m not even close. I must start planning that. But the question in my mind is this: are online parties played out? The trend rises and falls, perhaps depending on the swag being offered (who doesn’t like something awesome for free?) and the activities involved. Plus, I’d love to have a really nice set of collectibles for giving away, like a wand and a crystal, which means hunting in my own treasures for things I no longer need or once again, spending money. 

This is something that writers aren’t told to expect when they first set out to sell a book: how much time and effort it takes to advertise and spread the word. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I know more of what to expect and how to do certain things. But I certainly haven’t improved in my life balancing, even though I’m off for the summer. 

I’m quite jealous, too, of those writers who live in the greater population centres or shorter driving distances to special events. I’d love to have a table at FanExpo in Toronto, if I could afford it, but given the timing (at the end of the first week of school) and the travel time (8 hours on the road) plus the kids wanting to see the convention and their dad probably not being able to get the time off from his new job (security guard at a gold mine — so proud of him!), it’s not likely this year. 

It’s really kind of depressing. What happened to the enthusiastic writer of last year, who was staying up late to neatly package paperbacks with t-shirts and mugs and hand-made beeswax candles, writing notes to the readers and reviewers with sincere appreciation, sealing the cards with wax for a personal and unique touch?

Feels like it was a different lifetime. Or a different person.

So, marketing a book on a budget breaks down into:

  • telling people myself, through social media and personal emails, particularly to previous reviewers
  • being patient and making plans for how best to use money as it becomes available
  • thoughtful planning of release events — they can happen after the fact, because by then there will be a core of readers who will encourage their friends to come along
  • possibly, even, carrying copies of the books on trips to the mall, the library, or anywhere that books might be sold / borrowed / stocked, and practicing how to approach the person in charge! I need to work on this, even without the third book in hand.

So, fellow authors, what do you do to market your books? I’ve said before how much I admire the website for Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, so maybe I should put some effort into an interactive Weebly for the Talbot Trilogy, and another book trailer. Let’s add those to the list, too:

  • creating an interactive website using a free platform
  • making a book trailer

All of the above requiring time and commitment equal to a full-time job.

Who wants a glass of wine?