& Don't's for Self-Publishers - Part Two
by Julie Duffy
(If you missed Part One, you can find it here)
There is so much to think about when self-publishing a book. The 21st Century Publishing Update brings you a 10-point checklist of what to do and what not to do when publishing and promoting your own book. Based on conversations with self- publishing authors and marketing experts, this is not an exhaustive list of everything you should be thinking about, but it is a list of some of the most important.
DO: Get involved in online discussions, newsgroups etc...
The Internet has provided a way for people with shared interests to gather and talk about those interests. There are online groups for everything. Analyze your book and see what interest groups it caters to. If it features a psychologist, find newsgroups and online discussions for and about psychologists. If it is a mystery, find a mystery readers' site (not hard to do).
There are newsgroups and websites for every imaginable interest and sub-category of that interest. I came across a newsgroup for disbarred lawyers the other day. Look long enough and you'll find an online interest group for your topic, no matter how strange.
DON'T: Post blatant advertisements to newsgroups and message boards.
There is an etiquette (known as Netiquette) to participating in online discussions. First and foremost: do not post blatant ads to the groups. People are there to discuss their favourite topic, not to be bombarded with commercials. However, it is usually more than acceptable to mention your product or service after you have been participating in the group for a while, and have proved yourself.
Lurk for a while, get a feel for the group, then start posting helpful comments in response to people's questions. Once you have been accepted you can start to include information about your book. Even at this stage, be wary of including the information in the main message. The best option is to include a signature file, after your post, that contains the equivalent of a 'classified ad' about your book.
DO: Include a signature file on every email and newsgroup post...
Signature files are a great way of repeating advertising about your product without spamming. If you send a helpful or friendly email answering a correspondent's question, you should always include a signature file containing information about your book and where to buy it.
Advertising professionals swear that repetition is the key to sales. By repetition, they mean that someone has to see something not three but 18-20 times before they will buy. Signature files are a great way to remind people of you and your product. Imagine if, every time you met me, I said, 'Hi, my name is Julie and I'm a writer'. After a while you would have no trouble remembering who I was (no more horrible moments at cocktail parties!). Signature files work this way.
Signature files should contain 4-6 lines of no more than 60 characters. Any more and people will not read them.
DON'T: Send a bulk email to everyone in your address book...
Even if you have reason to believe that they would be interested in your product, sending unsolicited commercial email is SPAM. Don't do it.
If one person complains to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), your ISP is within their rights to cut off your Internet privileges and boot you off their servers. Just like that. No warning, no excuses.
Yes, I know you get loads of paper junk mail every day, but junk email is different. In the early days of the Internet users took a stand against junk email -- mainly because, in those days, people paid for their Internet access according to how much data they transferred. Every piece of mail cost users a little. Although the days of paying per byte are mostly gone, the taboo remains strong today.
Even if you offer people a chance to unsubscribe, thereby staying within the law, you will be transgressing the 'common law' of the Internet. Some people will write you off forever based on one piece of spam.
Don't do it!
Far better to build an opt-in mailing list, and invite people to join it (put an invitation in your signature file).
© 2000-2002 Julie Duffy
Go to Part One
Go to Part Three
Go to Part Four
Duffy (www.julieduffy.com) is the former
Director of Author Services at Xlibris. She is a
freelance writer and has been published in newspapers and
magaizines including the Writer's Digest special issue
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