Saturday, September 15, 2018

Guest Post Featuring Shawn Robinson: An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 4

Note from the RW Team: To give our writers a small hiatus, we are welcoming author Shawn Robinson to do a 5 part series on self-publishing over the months of August and September. We hope that this will prove very useful, especially to the teen/indie authors in our audience.  
Please give Shawn a warm welcome!

In this blog post, I want to take a quick look at how to get your book out there to people. We're going to explore a little bit about advertising and writing contests. Both of these can be a lot of work and, at times, be discouraging as it can yield poor results.

Remember this: book sales are a marathon, not a sprint. Don't expect to do one bit of advertisement and sell fourteen billion books. Expect to slowly grow your reader base!


One of the downsides with Self-Publishing is that you are responsible for all your own advertising. If you publish through a traditional publisher, they do a lot of that work for you because they are interested in selling your book. If you Self-Publish, you do not start with that support.

The challenge is, of course, finding people who are interested in reading your book and convincing them it is worth the read. This isn't easy, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

~ Start with Family and Friends ~

The fun part is that there are some family members and friends who will actually buy multiple copies and share them around. I remember reading an article a while back from an author who shared a funny story about this kind of thing. She had a family member show up one day who told her, "Hey, I bought a copy of your book and I want to get you to sign it, but I left it at home." She replied with, "It's an ebook." He responded back with, "What's an ebook?"

Authors immediately think about how they will sell their books to their mom, their aunt, their friends, their colleagues and so on. While you will sell some to family and friends and more, that's not typically how it ends up playing out.

If you have 500 friends that you are sure will buy your book, expect that 20 will. The other 480 will mean well, but will not get around to it (some will forget, some will "get to it this weekend when they have time," some will be too busy, etc.). I know that sounds like a pessimistic attitude, and I don't mean to be a pessimist (I'm actually a committed optimist). It's just the way it goes.

If you want to sell your book, you'll want to look beyond family and friends. Even if all of them buy a copy, you'll likely want to go beyond that limited number.

~ Social media ~
Social media has its ups and downs for advertising your book. It is really great for connecting the world, but you have to keep in mind that everyone is using it. If something starts to work for selling a book, understand that EVERYONE will start to use it, and it will quickly cease to work for the average person.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more are great for connecting up with large numbers of people, but they have their limits because people are overloaded with information.

For my first book, I tweeted about my book through not only my own account, but also a number of others (paid tweets). Through all this, I probably "reached" somewhere around 400k-500k followers. I'm not sure I received a single sale through any of those tweets. It was a good learning experience.

Social media accomplishes two things. First, it helps to give you a presence on the internet for fans to connect with you. Second, it opens the door for you to accomplish reader-author relationships, which will be discussed in a moment.

~ Paid Advertising ~ 

There are many ways you can pay for advertising. Amazon ads are a decently effective form of advertising, and it's Pay-Per-Click which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

The downside of it is that while you will likely sell books through it, you will have a hard time recouping your advertising costs. So, you might spend $100 in advertising and make $70 in sales. 

There are, perhaps, times when you just want to get your work out there for people to read, but that's not something you can afford long-term. Wait... I don't know your financial situation... that's not something I can afford long-term. Perhaps you can. :)

~ Reader-Author Relationships ~

The big thing you need to do is create fans. You do this by developing relationships with your readers.

A Former Wired editor once explained that all you need is 1000 "super-fans." If you have 1000 fans who are reading everything you write and promoting it to everyone they meet... you're all set.

If you have someone who is keen on your books... don't be afraid to build that relationship with them. It's a fun part of this process. You can develop friends around the world who love to read what you write!

So, if someone contacts you about your book, respond to them! Don't give them your home address or mobile number, but certainly chat through a Facebook Author Page or in the blog comments on your home site.


There are tons of contests out there for writers to submit a short story or an entire book for judges to get all judgy on it. Also, you can get your books out to people through offering contests.

~ Writing Contests ~

You can enter writing contests with your work and through that become known as an author. And if you are a young writer, there are loads of options for you. As a 42 year old... I'm too old for a lot of the "young writers" contests out there, but if you happen to be younger than me, you might have a shot at that! Google writing contests and see what you find!

If you win a contest, you can advertise, "Winner of the ?? award for best book in the SFRCCPHF genre."

~Self-Hosted Contests ~

You can get your books out to people through offering contests. I'll point out three different avenues of how this can be done.

First, you can make use of Goodreads and their giveaways. They offer a chance for you to set up a contest for people to enter in to get a copy of your book for free! This, unfortunately, can be costly as there is a fee for running one of their contests as well as the cost of your books (if you do print).

Second, Amazon does something similar (US only). You pay for your book and for shipping and Amazon runs the contest for you. You still get your normal royalties for this as well which is great!

Third, you can set up your own contest on your Facebook author page/Twitter account/website. You can then ship through Createspace or Ingram and likely get the book shipped out for about the same price as it would be to buy your book from Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, then you can send it right from Amazon with free shipping and make a royalty. :)

One Last Thing....

The more books you have, the more books you'll sell. Simple? What I mean is that if you have one book and someone likes it, they will finish the book and move on. If you have ten books in print and they like one of your books, you might find they order a copy of book two in your series and then book three and so on.

Try to write books in a series and try to publish a number of different books! The more books you have, the more books you'll sell!

Meet the Orator:
Bio and author picture are sourced from Author website ( Used with Permission.

I’m a writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.

I have written (so far) four books. One is a book of short stories, the other three are a series (Arestana series). They are geared to younger readers and I have a blast writing them! You can check out my books here:

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