Welcome to Finding Bliss, Tammara! And, I am looking forward to a bright future with you!
When you began writing, was it with the goal of someday publishing your books or just for a hobby?
I’ve always written – I can’t remember when the idea of publication entered into it, but it was probably in my late teens – the first time I began writing a novel. For years, I couldn’t vocalize my desire to be a published author to anyone beyond my very closest friends. Even then, it felt as sensible as saying, “I wanna be a ballerina!” It took me a while to build up enough confidence to admit to having a writing dream. Once you admit a dream like that, you admit the possibility of failing to reach it, and that’s terrifying. I never wrote a book as a hobby, even if I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. In my heart, I wanted to see it published. Now, I look on the three (shelf novels) I didn’t publish as writing/storytelling practice.
Briefly describe the major things you've done to build buzz for your books... what worked for you and what didn't.
For the first book – not much, and nothing at all ahead of publication. I uploaded the book with the best (self-made) cover I could produce, and begged a few bloggers to review for me. Less than half of them agreed, and none posted reviews before the book came out. (I gift bloggers legit copies on Kindle or Nook – their choice.) For the second through fourth books – I put the cover and description out a couple of months before I published, and I posted “teaser” snippets once a week on either Facebook or my blog from that point until publication. Bloggers and Goodreads reviewers talking about your book ahead of time is great, but that generally requires a built audience. I’ve never paid for advertising – though a couple of the books were featured on Pixel of Ink without my foreknowledge (after they were out and doing fairly well), and I’m grateful to whomever made that decision – it definitely gave sales a bump for 2-3 days.
Did you begin your career by querying agents?
Yes. Unsuccessfully, obviously. ;)
How big of a role has branding played for you - did you have certain conscious steps you took to build an author brand?
I don’t even know what an “author brand” is, to be honest. Anything I did was unconsciously done (or consciously done and my brain is calling it something else).
What is the most important marketing tool you recommend for writers wanting to self-publish?
I think authors should rely on individual strengths rather than try to do everything gung-ho. I prefer Facebook, while some people have a great blog or love Twitter. I do all three – but I concentrate on the one I enjoy. Don’t advertise your book all the time! That just annoys people. Interact with readers and try to be as available as possible for questions (the busier your life, the less possible that is, of course). Book blogger reviews are awesome if you can get them. Read blogs/reviews and choose carefully. Write professional emails to the bloggers just like you’d write query letters to agent.
When I published Between the Lines, I had a blog with only about thirty followers – and most of those were friends with blogs, not authors or YA readers. I think maybe three of them bought my first book, and at least one of those was a pity purchase! I didn’t have an “online presence.” I made a Facebook page and joined Twitter at some point in the month after I published BTL, (15 months ago). If you establish these things ahead of time in order to become familiar with how they work and begin to interact with readers, bloggers and other authors, that’s great. If you’re looking at a pre-publishing online presence as a marketing tool, I wouldn’t be able to advise on how to do it successfully, since I didn’t do it myself.
Fantastic! I love that Tammara says she doesn't even know what an author brand is.
My major takeaway is: If your book is fantastic, it's a built-in platform for you. So get writing that incredible book!
What stuck out to you? Please let me know in the comment section!