Marketing as a Self-Published Author: Making the Most of Your Time

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2015-07-29


Recently, we created a worksheet for self-publishing authors to calculate a rough estimate of what their costs for editing services might be. Budgeting your money in order to self-publish is a smart move---there are so many different services you might need for your book, anything from developmental or copy editing to cover design, formatting, or printing. There are lots of resources on the web that can assist you in ballparking an estimate for these services---check out Miral Sattar's handy breakdown here.




Self-Publishing as a Business

However, what I’m going to discuss today is how you, as a self-publishing author, can realistically budget your time. Many self-publishing authors simply produce their book, and then let it sit on their website or on Amazon, hoping that readers will find their book amongst the millions of other titles out there. If you want your book to do well, you have to put in the effort to attract those potential readers, instead of sitting back and crossing your fingers.  


If you hope to make any sort of money from self-publishing, you must remember that publishing a book is also a business. You have to make decisions that will promote your business, and like any business, you must invest both time and money. You may already know some of the tactics you can use to increase the profile of your book—building a website and web presence, writing or guest-writing blogs, using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads to interact with your audience, seeking out blurbs, creating mailing lists, and preparing flyers announcing your book, to name a few. Here are some tips to help you maximize your time.

Avoid Any Kind of “Pay for Followers” Option

While it might be tempting to boost your follower count, this is most definitely a case where you should be looking for quality over quantity. Sure, you can open up your wallet and get 1,000 or 2,000 new followers instantly. But what will they do for you in the long run?


What you really want are followers who interact with you, who care about what you have to say, and who engage with you. In many instances, the “followers” you pay for are zombie accounts that are usually completely inactive, and don’t even have real names—they are often just randomly generated groups of numbers and/or letters. Because of this, it’s usually pretty easy to see who has bought fake followers to boost their numbers.  

Find Platforms That Make Sense for Your Book

Facebook and Twitter are usually good bets for book marketing—you can interact with readers or potential readers, share related content, and engage with groups of people who might appreciate what your book has to offer. The idea is to not waste your valuable time on marketing options that just don’t make sense for your book. If you’ve written a history of your town, Instagram might not make sense for you to invest time in, but a blog might give you the opportunity to put out some interesting content that catches people’s interest (such as little-known facts of your town’s history).


Try to think outside the box—I once worked on a title where the author created a “mixtape” for the book’s main character. It was available for anyone to listen to, both as interesting bonus content for readers, and as a marketing tool.

Be Realistic

This tip is often the toughest to accept. Unless you choose to use one of the sketchy “paid followers” options I discussed above (but please don’t!), growing your social network takes time. Nurturing connections and consistently maintaining conversations isn’t something that happens overnight. However, it’s a truly worthwhile way to grow interest in your book and generate sales via word-of-mouth, which is how many books get sold.


Marketing is also not something that ever really “finishes.” It’s a smart idea to spend time each day responding to your followers, interacting with them, and  generating new content—anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour a day is a worthwhile investment.

Never Give Up!

It can seem daunting, but doing a little bit every day will get you to where you want to be! If you go into the marketing process with your eyes wide open about how much time it will take, chances are good you won’t get overwhelmed—and you’ll see the results you want to see.