A while back, I had a great opportunity to interview Kate Policani, author of Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic. She shared some valuable experiences and gave advice on how to be successful at self-publishing.
When did you start writing? And how many books have you written so far? How long have you been self-publishing?
I started writing as a little kid and never really stopped. I wrote all through high school and college, never even considering it as an activity I’d make anything out of. Finally when I had kids and being a mom squeezed out time for all my other entertainment activities (music, crafts, sewing) writing still happened. That’s when I found out I was a compulsive writer and someone said, “You should finish something and publish it.” So I did!
I’ve written seven books so far: three children’s books written in 2005 with my aunt, one short-story, a short novel and a full-length novel coming out Oct 26th.
I’ve been self-publishing since June of 2011. I finished my first book and sent it in to an editor and published in September 2011.
What are some examples of your marketing tactics?
I’ve tried a lot of marketing tactics because I have time to market but not lots of money to spare. The most effective marketing tactic has been having lots of books. People may only see a promo for one of my books, but if they are interested, I’ve made sure they can find my other works through it. Another self-published author in my online research on the subject says that an author’s work markets their other work. That’s really true.
Another great marketing move was my free short story. A freebie gives readers a peek at what I have to offer and if they like it, they might buy my other books.
My other favorite homemade marketing are my books’ virtual release parties, and interactions with others online such as my Author Blog-in. For the virtual parties, I pack a lot of giveaways, guest posts, guest books, and reviews of my new book. I make sure to include lots of others and help promote them too because we compound our viewers when we all share our audience.
That’s how I got the idea for the Author Blog-in. I wanted to do a book tour but they can be pretty expensive. While researching prices and customer feedback for the companies, I realized that I could build a simple and free book tour by gathering authors together and cross-promoting. Since I started it in July it’s been building. I get a lot of page views from the Blog-in! Sometimes that’s all an author can work toward, but I’ve noticed my sales trickle getting bigger as I promote. That’s what promoting for a self-published author is: slow building.
How have you built a following (of readers)?
I think it’s mostly word-of-mouth, both online and in my community. The activities where I do something nice for someone else really build the best following. I love giving to others and I think we really need that online. I want to take the Golden Rule to the next level, not just doing to others what I’d like them to do to me, but going out and looking for good I can do for others. If I start looking for something useful online and don’t see it, I try to create it. That always brings others on board with me.
What’s your favorite marketing/promotion plan?
I like the virtual release parties. They are a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to have a party with no noise and no cleanup. I like being hostess and it’s always sure to get people buying books.
What marketing ideas have worked for you, and what haven’t?
The ones that I like are the ones that worked ;). Facebook was a real disappointment to me. I calculated a number of sales I thought I’d get from my “friends” and was completely wrong. Either nobody saw or nobody on Facebook was interested in what I had to write. I still get friends’ messages that say “Wow! You’re writing! That’s so cool!” as if they just found out. I post enough that everyone should know, but oh well.
Twitter has definitely been a marketing wasteland for selling books. It is, however, a great place to network with other authors which leads to collaborations like the Blog-in where I can get sales.
I tried a paid book listing that had gone “over the hill”. It had worked really well for another author in the past but often successful book listing services get swamped with content and then lose their advantage. I have a running ratings blog post about them now so that I and other authors can avoid the bad ones.
How much time do you spend marketing versus writing?
I market every day. I don’t write every day, but when I do write it takes over all the other things. That’s how I can write at all. If you added it up it would probably be 60% marketing and 40% writing. I have to work to keep the marketing part down or it will become 100%. I do that by discarding things that don’t work or I don’t enjoy and focusing on a few good, fun marketing activities.
What are you working on right now?
I usually work on multiple things at once because if I focus on one for too long I get sick of it and then don’t want to work on it. Switching around prevents that and helps me be more productive with my writing.
Kate currently has three works in progress: The Stray, Sorcery Loves Company, and Horarium. See below for more details, and check out Kate Policani’s website.
Genre: Sci-fi, short story
Synopsis: Two teens fall prey to the deadly Horarium Virus, which kills the infected within 11 months. Banished to the Quarantine Zone, they meet and find love within tragedy,. They also learn profound truths about life and humanity as they face impending death. Read it here.
Sorcery Loves Company (sequel to Don’t Judge)
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Synopsis: Colleen may think she has her new life in the Convergence all worked out, but things are not what they seem. There are more hot guys to handle, and more trouble to face than she planned for. When her parents cross the line, she’ll have to call in all the favors she’s owed and put her faith in people she never expected to count on. Can she keep her parents safe, keep her hands off “Naughtie Hottie” London, and pass her economics class? Plenty of new friends and enemies will join in the struggle, because…sorcery loves company.
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Synopsis: Andrea lives on the Earth in a society that is is ruled by the ShaZha, a hyper-intelligent race of alien beings who rule the planet under the guise of rehabilitating humanity. Not surprisingly, some humans under ShaZha rule are not satisfied with their pretense. Andrea is a Prodigy, but she is not an obedient human. Bitter against her callous treatment by the masters, she lives in torment. Unfortunately, her rebellion is ineffective and ignored by her preoccupied captors due to her small size and lovely appearance. One day, though, she hears the rumors of a human named Zarah who knows of the world outside the Prodigy community, and even of a society living free of the ShaZha. This discovery spurs her to form a daring plan to go stray. Will she escape from her stifling existence? Will the free world be everything she hoped for?