1 Simple Tip for Planning Your New Year of Book Promotions

2014 Date Book

Date books available from card shops for only pence/cents

Set your new book promotion year off to a great start with this cheap and easy tip that will cost you only pence/cents.

Invest in a simple “date book” – the kind of pocket-sized planner that most card shops display by their tills at this time of year. These small lightweight notebooks provide a handy at-a-glance chart of each month’s calendar, with a square about 2cm x 2cm for each day.

One day’s square allows just enough space to insert  a single key event, such as a new blog post on your author website, a guest post on someone else’s or a special price promotion. Inserting your key activity each day will allow you to see at a glance how your promotional plan is panning out:

  • Looking back each month will help you plan future activity
  • Spotting future gaps will prompt you to fill them
  • Seeing each page fill up with constructive activity will keep you motivated as the year goes by

Useful for Many Things

If using just one date book sounds too restrictive, try investing in a separate date book for each type of book marketing activity. Having snapped up half a dozen when I was out shopping just after Christmas, I’ve already found a use for them all:

  • 1, 2 & 3: planning the posts on the three blogs I run (this one, my author website at www.youngbyname.me and the self-publishing advice blog for the Alliance of Independent Authors, for which I’m commissioning editor)
  • 4: keeping track of my invoicing (something I was always behind on in 2013)
  • 5: monitoring URL renewal dates for the author websites that I manage for other authors
  • 6: monitoring my progress up the Amazon reviewer ranks (they update the listings once per day (I started the year at #1,514 on the UK site)

I’m also planning to buy another to keep track of my progress on Twitter (where you’ll find me at @DebbieYoungBN, by the way):

  • number of followers/following each day
  • number of retweets received
  • number of new tweets made
  • schedule past posts for retweeting

I plan to do this via a series of colour coded dots. It’s either that or learn to write as small as a fairy to fit it all in!

Date books show a month at a glance

Use separate date books for different projects

My eighth date book will enable me to schedule various self-publishing projects I have planned for the new year – writing time, editing time, publication date and book launch. These projects include The Author’s Guide to Blogging (to be published by SilverWood Books in the spring) and some collections of short stories, flash fiction and travel memoirs.

Keep It Simple

This may not be rocket science, nor is it high technology,  but I do believe it’s a simple way to monitor my progress, keep my spirits up and maintain momentum – and much more sustainable than setting up a series of spreadsheets or online calendars to do much the same thing.  When we have so much high technology at our fingertips, at work, at home and on the move, it’s too easy to aim for the complex and fail, when sometimes simple tricks may be just as effective and considerably less stressful.

So here’s to a less stressful 2014 – and I wish you a very successful New Year of book promotion!

Throughout 2014, new book promotion tips will appear on this blog every Wednesday. To receive every tip in your email inbox, complete the subscription box at the top right of the homepageTo receive a monthly newsletter including these tips, plus more news and giveaways, email me a message with “OTS Newsletter Request” in the subject line. 


7 New Year Resolutions for Indie Authors & Self-Published Writers

Vintage new year I love new beginnings and the opportunity they bring to replace bad habits with good ones. New Year’s Eve is, for me, inextricably linked with Resolutions.

This year, I’m making not one list but two: one for my personal life and one for my life as a self-published writer and indie book promoter.

I’m sharing that second list here in case you need inspiration as 2013 dawns.

If you’d like to add any of your own at the end, please do – I’ll be happy to take them on board!

1) I will not become obsessed with statistics.

It’s too easy to waste time on statistics. Checking my Amazon sales rankings, my blog hits, my Twitter followers – and unfollowers… It’s not only a waste of time better spent elsewhere. It’s also often misleading, causing false hopes and needless despondency. Amazon employs such mysterious, ever-changing algorithms for its supposed sales figures, that they vary dramatically from one minute to the next, and are not accurate indicators of real sales, even for those published solely on Kindle. They’re best avoided. But of course, if I happen to spot a favourable figure, e.g. hitting the top 100 in an Amazon category, I reserve the right to celebrate! In the meantime, I will do all I can to optimise my  stats – which means actively promoting my books, not gazing for hours at sales graphs – without obsessing about them.

2) I will learn all I can from fellow authors in the indie/self-publishing sector.

in 2013, I’m going to make the most of the very supportive online indie author community. I will NOT do an impression of a lonely writer sitting in a garret (or study with nice garden view, in my case), with only a blank page (screen) for company. I’ll read other authors’ blogs, tweets and comments, I’ll follow the stimulating Facebook discussions of the specialist community groups that I belong to (Alliance of Independent Authors, aka ALLi, and the SilverWood Authors Community). I’ll check in regularly to GoodReads. And while I’m gaining other authors’ input and support, I’ll try to give even more than I receive.  “You’re gonna reap just what you sow”, as Lou Reed sings in “Perfect Day” (scheduled to be played at my funeral, but preferably not in 2013!)

3) I will use Twitter wisely.

I will continue to use Twitter to focus on my self-publishing and writing interests. I will not get distracted by Stephen Fry, Gin O’Clock’s parody of Queen ElizabethThe Poke, hashtag games and other such frivolities. Oh alright, most of the time. 99% of my Twitter time will be spent on productive transactions. Honest.

Angelic trumpeter

4) I will blow my own trumpet.

When I achieve any significant milestones, I will give myself permission to brag about them – briefly. For example, when a great new review is published, I’ll tweet a few links, but then and only then. I will justify a little self-aggrandisement by the thought that other authors will be encouraged by a fellow writer’s success (I know I am). Success breeds success, and no writer is an island, as John Donne almost said. But I won’t bang on about it till it becomes tiresome. I will remember that Twitter is a two-way street, not a soapbox.

5) I will review other indie authors’ books.

Speaking of reviews, I will definitely continue one of the most rewarding practices that I started in 2012, which was to post reviews of books by other self-published writers on my website and elsewhere. It’s been a really helpful process not only to them but to me too. (Click here to read more about why I believe ALL indie authors should review other self-published writers’ books. )

6) I will always be prepared to promote my book.

Like a boy scout, I resolve to be prepared at all times to capitalise on any opportunity to promote my book. When Sell Your Books! was first published in October, I was caught out early on several times by enquiries from unlikely sources to which I was unequipped to respond straight away. These days, I carry a copy with me in my handbag at all times, along with business cards and bookmarks, ready to slip into the hand of the unexpected enquirer – someone I get chatting to in a shop or at the school gate for example.  This will increase the chance of converting their interest into an actual sale.

Burgundian scribe (portrait of Jean Miélot, se...

Burgundian scribe . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7) I will, er, write.

I’m an indie writer, therefore I will promote my books. But most importantly, I’ll keep  writing – and I will make more time to write (and format and self-publish) than I did in 2012. Because if I don’t, I’ll stop being a writer. Instead I’ll just be an online author groupie aspiring but failing to live my dream.

Whatever your writing ambitions for 2013, I wish you every success. And when you achieve your success, do come back and tell me about it – I’d love to share your good news. (Hmm, that’ll be resolution number 5, then…)