My friend Sanjit Singh recently independently published a book called Are You Indian? A Humorous Guide to Growing up Indian in America. I asked him to share what has (and hasn't) worked in his marketing efforts, and here's what he had to say. (Disclaimer: I didn't realize he would mention me, nor did I ask him to do so.)
Three things that have worked well:
Friends and family: I didn't quite expect this group to embrace my book beyond a few dozen "mercy purchases." However, since many of my friends and family are of the same ethnic background and generation as I am, I think they were well equipped to relate to the book's context, tone and humor. Their extremely positive feedback and recommendations to friends have been very encouraging.
Blog: My blog has been a great way to improve my writing skills and simultaneously build an audience for my book.
Twitter: Although I've experimented with other social media platforms, Twitter became the best path to connect with well-known Indian Americans with large numbers of followers (it's not surprising that someone with ADHD like me can operate within a 140-character universe!). By building relationships with key influencers, I've been able to gain exposure to their audiences by mentions and guest postings on their blogs.
Three things that haven't work as well:
Bookstore signings: I've discovered that it's difficult to get people to attend these events in high enough numbers to justify the cost.
Speaking to news outlets and book distributors: One of my author mentors, Maria Murnane, warns that these groups will generally not talk to self-published authors. Unfortunately, I learned this in her book marketing webinar only after trying fruitlessly to obtain traction in this channel. There's the Murnane way and then there's the inane way...I am now, of course, a disciple of the Murnane way.
Facebook advertising: Enamored by the ubiquity of Facebook, I tried a few different advertising tactics with very little conversion. If there is a good way to advertise a book on Facebook, I haven't yet found it.
Whether you have a contract or have gone the indie route, what has and hasn't worked for you? I look forward to your comments.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.