How many books do you think are published each year in the United States? The answer is that no one knows for sure, but it is estimated that in 2019 more than four million books were published, and that of these approximately 1.7 million were self-published. On a per-day basis, that equates to nearly 11,000 new books published daily, of which 4,660 are self-published.
Now comes the bitter truth: even if a book is picked up by a publisher, more of the burden of promoting a book falls on the author because of the challenging economic climate publishers face (i.e., smaller margins on falling unit sales per new published book). This reality was a major reason why I stopped searching for an agent or publisher. I would have given them a cut of the proceeds of each book sold while carrying more of the responsibility to promote the book in terms of time and money.
So, how do you do it? How do you tell the world your book exists? The answer can be generalized as follows:
Build a brand around yourself as an author and develop an online community using the social media platforms and then immerse yourself in these digital channels to grow your community, market yourself and your book and ultimately sell books.
When I talked of being an author, Lyn and I envisioned romantic road trips to quaint bookstores in towns and cities throughout the country. We would begin in the South in the Spring and head up the coast in the Summer and finish our trek in the Northeast timed perfectly to see the leaves change in the Fall. We would stay overnight, maybe dine with the owner of the bookstore, appear before a group of local book-lovers, talk about my book, and hopefully sell a few. The following morning, we would pack up, do a little sightseeing, and head off for the next town. As I write this, I feel like I’m watching a Hallmark movie.
Yes, the Covid driven shutdowns rendered our dreams impossible—but knowing what I know now, what I describe above, while it sounds fun, is not how a debut author makes a splash. No—I had to embrace Social Media. At the beginning of 2020, I did not have an Instagram account. I visited my Facebook page maybe twice a year, and I thought Twitter was for angry people. That’s changed. While I’m still not on Twitter, I engage through Instagram and Facebook daily.
Learning the mechanics of the social media platforms was doable. What was infinitely more difficult was the idea of promoting myself as a brand and as a writer. In my previous business experiences, I sold products and services and marketed our company as a leader in a particular industry. But that was different, for I was touting a company and our ability to deliver a specific product or service. In this new career iteration, I am encouraged to write almost exclusively about myself under the pretense that doing so draws people to me so they will read my posts, blogs, and ultimately my books.
At the outset, I believed that only those people that already followed me would see my posts and that their reaction would be, "Yea, Paul, we get it, you wrote a book." But the social aspects of the platforms do increase your reach.
People you have never met will find you, and you will find them, and they may follow you.
I was blessed to find an excellent team in the Good Grit Ad Agency. They gave me the confidence to give this a try. I said 'Ok,' but I still treaded lightly, not knowing if I was merely spinning my wheels and spending money or if doing all they told me to do would lead to book sales. I have been happily surprised—it works. People I have never met are finding me, following me, reacting to things I post, and telling their friends—and book sales are growing.
On a side note, I now genuinely enjoy reconnecting with and keeping up with friends, old and new, on Facebook and Instagram. And success breeds success, so today I engage online with greater frequency and confidence, for I am a Southern storyteller.
Paul was born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Paul and his wife, Lyn, met in college at Georgetown University and were married after Paul graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988 where Paul embarked on a thirty-year business career before retiring so he could write fiction. Paul and Lyn raised three children together in Phoenix and now split their time between Phoenix and Charleston, South Carolina.
Blood in the Low Country is Paul Attaway’s debut novel. Writing this book, along with the move to Charleston, is a coming home of sorts, a return to the South. The history and culture of America’s South is rich, complicated, at times comical, sad, tragic, uplifting, and inspiring. Paul hopes that his novels can capture even a small bit of this tapestry. Learn more about Paul Attaway, and purchase his book, here: https://www.paulattaway.com. Find the audiobook on Audible, Amazon, or Apple Books!