When sixth grade Diane promised herself she was going to someday publish a book, the marketing aspect of being an author did not cross her mind. Nor did it cross my mind until I was signing my publishing contract and even then I had no clue what it actually meant. I knew some stuff about social media and had two marketing classes in college, but they didn’t prepare me on how to market myself as an author.
Now that I’ve been a signed author for over a year and my debut book, Does Love Always Win?, is about to come out in June 2023 and currently on pre-order, I thought I’d talk about all the marketing aspects of publishing I’ve been learning.
Social media is important, but you need to be on the platforms where your readers are. So for me as a young adult author, that means being on Instagram and TikTok. I can still have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, they just aren’t as important, so I don’t spend as much effort on those. For Twitter, I mainly use that to connect with other authors, because writing Twitter is so big, and honestly it’s a lot of fun.
Instagram (bookstagram)and TikTok (booktok) have a huge bookish culture that I’m still trying to break into, and both are very different. Instagram is all about very stylish photos and cool content. I’ve needed some nice, fancy graphics to stand out, so the program Canva and I have started becoming best friends. TikTok is more genuine. I can make a video and not have to be perfect, but their algorithm is what gets you. Most of my videos only get 250 views, but some reached over 600–I’m still waiting for that viral moment!
It’s such a tricky balance between promoting my book and not being too pushy. Something that has worked for me on both platforms is talking about other queer books that I love, thereby attracting followers that want to know more about queer books and possibly might want to read my books.
Other ways I’ve marketed myself is by having an author newsletter. A newsletter updates everyone on what I’m up to, and I provide some exclusive content. For example, I wrote a prequel story about my side character Kristy Davis from my book that’s going to be emailed only to newsletter subscribers before my book goes on sale. Also, this blog has been a great way to market myself and tell my story.
Other ways to market yourself and your book is by just getting yourself out there and telling your story. Over the next couple of months I’ve booked myself on podcasts that my publisher sent my way (one is actually this Thursday, May 4 at 7pm EST on SheShedStudios), am going to be featured on some book blogs, am serving on a kidlit banned book panel on May 11th at 7pm EST on Zoom, and managed/set up a book tour for myself. I’m also going to be teaching a creative writing class to teens at a library in my hometown of York, PA, and one in the town I live. I was also asked to speak in-person on a panel at the Bronx Book Festival, a kid lit festival, on June 10th, which is super exciting! I’m looking forward to meeting fellow young adult writers and readers.
And after my book is out, I can’t stop. I need to still be marketing myself and my book, especially since my second book, Superficial, comes out September 2024. There has been a learning curve, but I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people, and what I’m really looking forward to is my in-person events where I can meet potential readers face-to-face!