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  • Karen Frost

The Problem With Marketing as an Indie Author

A friend recently texted me, "What's your PR plan for your book release?" I wrote her back, "I don't have one." She was shocked. "Why not?"

I explained to her that when my first book, "Conspiracy of the Dark," was published, I did everything a new author is supposed to do. I tried to submit blog posts to sites so that people would hear about my book (tangentially). I tried to submit my book to LGBT book sites, particularly LGBT YA book lists. I submitted my book to LGBT book awards and to a local author award. I went on Reddit and tried to talk up my book. I sent notice about the book to my college and had the local college bookstore order a copy. I did free book giveaways (and when the time came, I did an audiobook giveaway). I had my book listed in LGBT book bingo. I tried to follow other LGBT YA fantasy authors and engage with them on Twitter. I asked my library to order my book, and for my friends to ask their libraries to order it. Eventually, I even paid for Twitter ads.

I said to my friend, "Do you know what happened after all that?" Nothing. I could only get one blog to take a post. I couldn't get a single LGBT book site to list my book. Reddit ignored my posts, and I could barely get anyone to take even free books. Even social media ads only resulted in an additional book or two selling. This post isn't me bemoaning my failure, however. It's about the massive, massive imbalance between indie authors and mainstream authors. If there are any would-be authors reading this post: it's not your fault if you did everything you were supposed to and it didn't work. You're trying to swim upstream, and it's almost impossible if you're a little fish. We all are struggling with that same handicap. Mainstream authors are given PR resources that get their books listed on "Best of" lists, best seller lists, up and coming author lists. They go on book tours and do radio interviews. They have social media ads and print ads. The two experiences, indie and mainstream, aren't comparable.

An indie author I follow on Twitter just got 500 Amazon reviews. I'm happy for her. At the same time, I have no idea how she did it. I don't think she did interviews or blog posts or book giveaways or anything else like that. I think her book found a passionate audience and they told their friends, who told their friends. So no, I don't have a PR plan. All I have is a hope that "The Lady Adventurers Club" will find an audience and that audience will grow organically.

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