Lost Within the Trees… — Derek Barton


Are you ready to step out of the inky shadows, march down the twisted path and stride boldly into the shining sunlight?

In other words, your first novel has gone through a dozen  rewrites and you’ve made all the adjustments recommended by your book critiques (either from professionals or beta-readers) –  so what exactly is your next move?

Well, be prepared!  Not only will you have to sell your work of art, but it is now time to sell YOU!


Ugh… That word alone causes an immediate case of cold shivers down the spine to most of us new indie writers.  I know that I had no real idea what to do.  Even up through today, I am still looking out for new ideas, original techniques or alternative options to get my book and my name out there.

Now questions you will need to ask yourself are:

  • what are your expectations with the marketing?
  • what are your resources?
  • what are the outcomes that you want and are they realistic?

If your expectations are to get immediate sales and fame, that’s not too likely.  I am seeing that many writers have to play a slow game of “If I write it, the readers will come… eventually.”


Word of mouth and a variety of original works will gain you a loyal fan reader base.  If you appeal to different types of readers that can also help grow your share of readers.

What about your resources?  Are you financially able to invest in your work?  Can you afford to market or advertise?  Everyone’s budget varies of course and there is no set answer on that.  Just because you throw a ton of money at the wall will not guaranty success, but on the other end if you don’t put anything into getting your name out there, you run the risk of being obscured in the blur of thousands of new published books every year.  Another new name among a mountain of new names.

The outcomes or the payoff for all this marketing can bring you readers or it can also bring you some new opportunities.  I haven’t seen any true financial boost (yet!), but that could be an option.  Marketing is a gamble and it’s a gamble on you and your writing. When you decide what you want to do, you also have to decide what is going to satisfy you.  You are investing time, money and your own name for the sake of your story. On what level do you say that your marketing has been successful and fulfilling or at what point do you stop, redirect your efforts?  Those are answers you will have to work out yourself.

Personally (and I always try to share with you the avenues I took that worked or didn’t work for me), I researched a lot online, read a ton of blogs, bought multiple books for marketing and strived to figure out what I felt I could do, afford and what I wanted from all of this.  Sure I want thousands of readers and the life of a famous writer (why not?!), but that is a lofty goal for a lifetime not a goal for just one book from a first-time indie writer.

I don’t have the money for commercials or making Youtube ads, but maybe you do and that can be an option for you.  Again, investing and marketing is a unique path for each person.

By the way, the biggest mistake the experts are saying that newbies make is paying to have their book reviewed by a site or company.  There are tons of ways  to get your work reviewed for free — just means you will be doing a lot of emailing or posting (begging) readers, family or friends to write them for you. Or you can make arrangements with beta-readers — send them a free book for a promise of a book review.  Why big push for review and feedback?  Reviews will sell your book on Amazon and other sites.

The best advice and the most stated advice I have seen is to utilize Social Media outlets and make sound uses of them!

Get your name, profile, bio and blurbs about your books on each of these sites:

  • Facebook (business author page)
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon Author page

These will get your name, face and books in front of thousands of readers.  Will these viewers all immediately want to read every word you have written?  No, of course not, but it will reach a lot more than you’d be able to do on a daily basis by yourself.

Make good use of them by posting often about your work, give samples for readers to read of upcoming work or from published works already available for sale, share inside views of what it takes to produce your writing and be sure to announce where you are going to be for book signings.

One tip I followed recently that has paid off pretty well for me was Book Giveaways.  On Goodreads.com, I posted a Goodreads Giveaway for a few signed books and this has generated a ton of interests in not just readers wanting free books, but I have over half the contest entrants placing my book now on a “want to read” list.

Another outlet for me will be book signings and comicon appearances.  This is a fantastic way to get media on you (nothing is more exciting than seeing your name on an event website as a “guest appearing author”!) and it’s an easy way to meet fans and build an honest and lasting fan base.

If reaching out and sharing your story is the most important goal for your writing then you have to do the hard work of getting that attention.  The amount of effort you put into your marketing will be a key factor in your own success.

Likely you went down the road of self-publishing like I did because you didn’t want to waste any more time waiting for some literary agent or traditional publishing house to give you, “an unknown”, a chance.  In these times, it probably just doesn’t make “business” sense for them to market you…  Is that fair?  NO!!  Is it the world?  Yeah… at least for now.

And because you have decided you aren’t going to wait for them, that means that you are the Marketing Department.  You are responsible for it all.  Now get busy!

Hopefully, I have cut down on some of your own marketing research and given you some helpful direction.  Some of this may be obvious or maybe some of this might be the spark you needed.  Either way, I wish you all the luck and blessings in your endeavors into the Murky Forest of Marketing!