One continual hot topic of self-publishing is how to market your book. Book marketing is arguably the most important part of the self-publishing process. After all, you might have written the best book in the world, but if you don’t market it, nobody will know about it! While I often provide book marketing suggestions on here (almost always focusing on the first step – writing a book marketing plan), I thought it might be nice to hear from someone “in the trenches” of the book marketing game. Ben MacKinnon is a young author (one of the youngest to ever self-publish with Dog Ear) who has a lot of energy and drive—both for marketing his book and for life in general. I conducted an interview with him to get some of his insights on marketing his self-published book, Green Bean Spirituality. I hope his advice is helpful to those of you who need a little more direction in your own marketing strategy.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Currently, I am in my forth year of college at the University of Delaware. I am studying to get a B.A. in Secondary Mathematics Education and will hopefully be graduating next spring. I am a part-time student currently, because I am paying my way through school and can’t afford to go full time. I am twenty-one years old, and was published shortly after my twenty-first birthday. I have been a Christian for six years or so, and constantly find myself challenged and encouraged by the truths of the Christian gospel.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I decided to self-publish because I couldn’t afford the route necessary to traditional publishing. Literary agents were too expensive, and the process too involving considering my studies at the University. I also wanted complete control of the artistic portions of my manuscript and knew I couldn’t get that if I were to be traditionally published.
What marketing strategies have you implemented?
For the most part, I have been working the college-campus angle. I live in a 2×2 mile block with 26,000+ people, so I stuck primarily to local audiences. I did this through using campus newspapers/news programs to slowly raise awareness of my publication. Naturally, twenty-somethings and younger could find themselves interested in literature composed by a twenty-something, so I did what I could there.
I also made certain to distribute as many as I could to those I knew in other countries to open up more markets.
Which marketing tactic has brought you the most success?
I found the most success with my website. I created a website to accrue donations for the publication. I posted my other essays/creative pieces up on the site in order to “woo” people into feeling comfortable donating. Then, when I gained enough money to publish (I paid a shade under 50$ of my own money for my publication; I got TONS of donations as time went on.). This created an awareness of my work as well, which naturally set me up for immediate online sales. With the help of a personal blog promoting the site, I gained considerable worldwide traffic.
I also found incredible success with social networking sites like Myspace, Facebook, and etc. People pay attention to that stuff, and I made certain that I people could access my work from my profiles in these sites. That really blew up my traffic (in a good way!)!
Are there any marketing tactics that you wouldn’t try again?
I would steer clear of book festivals. I almost dropped a ton of money on a book festival that I thought would help me get sales, but I didn’t have the resources necessary to participate, so I didn’t end up going to sell. I did go to the festival to gauge the success of other independent authors; I was glad I didn’t get a booth!
You are the owner of the blog somedaypublished.com. What are your
thoughts on blogging?
Blogging is incredible! It is the most personal form of writing I can imagine. It bolsters regularity of reader involvement, and it’s a great place to practice. You don’t need to have a grammatically perfected blog post, where you do need to iron out your p’s and q’s in essay writing and etc. One thing that is important to blogging is to stay true to a theme of posts (personal reflection, comedy, etc.) and to really commit to posting at least bi-weekly.
Do you have any future plans for the marketing of your book?
The future of my book is something I don’t think so much about. I am focused on the present with the piece. For me to sell ANY books is a dream come true, and I don’t want to become encumbered with the need to hit the NY Time Bestsellers list. I am just taking this whole thing one step at a time. I trust the people I have at Dog Ear Publishing to keep me in the loop as to what they think should happen next.
Thanks to Ben for the interview. You can find more information about Ben and his book here. If you want more about marketing, check out this page about book marketing strategies on the Dog Ear website.