Social Media has changed the landscape on how to get to people through bloggers, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ - you name it: people are using it. If you are an indie, you are told you will not get on the radio, TV, in bookstores, etc. You can spend money on a publicist and still not see things happening. So how much time should authors spend marketing their work?
If you write it and no one is reading it...are you just writing for yourself? You have to find ways to get beyond your friends to meet strangers who will enjoy your work and share it with others. You have to not listen to those that tell you "you'll never do 'x'" - and just go for it! Because of connections I've made, I have been featured in national magazines, national radio and even on PBS television. And yes....I am an indie (he declares as if standing in front of a room of indies that will shout back "hello, indie!").
Another amazing connection are the indie bookstores. I was recently speaking to the owner of the one in my town and telling him it is nerve-racking for an author to walk in and introduce themselves. But trust me: you NEED to do this. They may say no. Or they may end up placing your book in their store. You never know until you try. My indie publisher uses Ingram distribution services which means the books are available in catalogs so they can find it. But you should really talk to them. Show them how you plan to market yourself (having your book in that store doesn't mean it's going to sell). You need to make it worth their time and effort to give up some shelf space and not make it cost them too much. It IS a business for them...so treat it as such. Offer to give a few discounted copies at first and show how you can get people to stop in their store. Drive people from your website to theirs. We're all in this together: so you want to scratch their back as much as you want yours scratched. And check in periodically to see how things are going. If your books are not moving, then why should they take that valuable space in the store.
I am so grateful, lucky, blessed for the few stores that have hosted me in a book signing. A few in NJ have been so nice to me and I'm also heading to Maine in June (as my current book is set in that state). But you can also think 'outside the box' when it comes to book signings and plan them in places outside of bookstores. You're a writer! Write up a different scenario and start thinking of something clever that matches your book.
But my biggest advice: you are not alone. Connect to those other indies. Not only those doing the writing, but those selling. Those in other indie markets. Those that understand the rough road you are on.
It's not as lonely when you're doing it with someone else.
Well Read Book Store is a wonderful local bookstore in Hawthorne, NJ. Check out their website or on Facebook.