This Week in Self-Publishing: Outreach and Results
It really is about who you know.
Money earned (total): $7,041.71
Money spent (total): $3,011.20
Money earned (this week): $0
Money spent (this week): $0
This is the last “this week in self-publishing” update that I’ll write before my book is actually published.
The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000 releases on Tuesday, May 23, and there will be a launch event at Seattle’s Phinney Books that evening at 7 p.m. featuring cake, wine, and a conversation between me and Molly Lewis, and I’ll finally be able to look at actual sales numbers and see how many people pre-ordered the book, and we’ll start to learn how my novel is going to hold up both as a work of fiction and as a marketable work of fiction.
But before all of that happens, I want to take a look at my marketing/outreach strategy and its results.
My marketing/outreach strategy was pretty simple. I created a spreadsheet of people, publications, review sites, and bookstores to contact and then started contacting them. There were a few built-in conditionals, like “I’ll contact this publication if I get a good review,” or “I’ll contact this person after I get the paperback,” but for the most part it was pretty straightforward. The majority of people and publications I contacted were people I knew through my freelance writing network, though I sent out a few “cold call” emails as well.
I set myself the goal of doing one promotional activity every day, although that didn’t necessarily mean reaching out to someone on my outreach list. Sometimes it meant doing a podcast interview with someone I had previously reached out to. Sometimes it meant writing an article. Sometimes it meant writing this column.
I also decided to send ARCs to a handful of people who didn’t necessarily have methods of promoting the book besides, say, tweeting about it. I’m not sure what exactly I expected to happen here, but these were all people I knew who had shown interest in either the book or in my writing, so I was like “hey, want an ARC?” I figured the more people who got excited about the book, the better.
I ended up contacting 30 people/publications/bookstores and booking two podcast appearances, two bookstore appearances, and three articles as a result of this outreach—plus I booked three additional podcast appearances through people reaching out to me. (That’s the kind of marketing you want; the kind where they want you.)
I also began writing for Pronoun’s The Verbs, which isn’t a direct book-marketing thing but does let me include my Pronoun-published book in my bio as I write about topics like mailing lists or points of view.
I have yet to get any book reviews in blogs or publications (I’m not counting the Kirkus/Foreword Clarion/BlueInk reviews here, since I paid for those), though I’m still holding out hope. I’m anticipating that the momentum from the book launch will get me a few more opportunities, and I have a post-launch outreach list ready to contact next week.
So this outreach/results metric feels realistic, given that I am a self-published debut author. Here’s the part that feels even more realistic: about half of these opportunities came from people who already knew me well, and the other half came from people who weren’t close friends/colleagues but were still firmly in my network. The cold calls didn’t pay off, and even the slightly warm “here’s how we’re loosely connected, and here’s my book!” emails didn’t pay off.
So keep that information in mind as you plan your own marketing and outreach strategies. ❤