…And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it riding the gravy train…
The days of a publisher accepting your book, granting a contract, and providing the marketing to make you a success are over. If they ever really existed. These days most publishers are not going to spend more than a penny to make you a success, until you are a success and they can hop on that gravy train and really make it roll.
So the trick is, you not only have to be a creative genius and write something of value but you need a degree in marketing to make the public want to read it. One of the first panels I went to at Norwescon was Marketing for People who Hate Marketing. Ding. That would be me.
The first thing I heard was market without being desperate. Pick one or two media outlets and do them well. Do not saturate people with your commentary. Do not hit the same audience on five platforms. You will bore them. They will turn against you.
Digital marketing: mostly free which makes for great ROI. You can also target your ads, setting a cost limit. Facebook favors your posts if you are paying for advertising with them. Bookbub reaches tons of readers. One panelist reported selling 1300 copies of her e-book in two days with bookbub. Project wonderful does banner ads and they can really drill down into your target audience.
Consider a mailing list so you can really target your readers with important news.
Blogging and human interaction maybe be the best way to advance your career. Interact with people and treat them like people who matter.
Giveaways always bump up your readership. Short stories, the first book in a series, a few free chapters. They all give people a taste of your style that costs them only the time they spend reading you.
Most important: the quality of your work added to who you are is what makes you stand out. Stay authentic. Do only what you are comfortable with and live with the line you draw. Indie publishing gives you total control but it also gives you total responsibility.