Before you read this post, watch this video by Kevin Allocca, YouTubes trends manager, as he talks about why video's go viral. It's 7 minutes long, appropriate for children, and dang funny/ informative. Go on, I'll wait.
I love that.
Self-publishing, like YouTube, removes the gatekeepers who decide what entertainment people actually want.
Now I don't think Smashword/Kindle Direct/Createspace/Lulu/etc is as popular as YouTube.
But video's don't usually take the same amount of time to enjoy as the average book uploaded, so I think it probably equals out to a similar statistic. 48 hours of content every minute. That's pretty staggering.
How can you make your book stand out from the crowd of books published?
1. Taste Makers How can you get your book to be mentioned by those with influence?
I think a good method for that is pretty simple. Follow those with influence in publishing. Read their blogs, and comment. Promoted the heck out of their books/ or blog posts, and then mention that you are promoting them. When you've established a relationship with said people, tell them about your book, and maybe ask them comment on it.
I think that's why celebrities always receive so much free stuff. If they wear it, or like it, and tell their friends, then the product becomes popular.
If you're like me, then that concept kind of feels crass, like you are using people, or making friends, solely for personal gain.
But writing is a business. It's called networking.
Really, it's just making friends, and putting yourself out there. Make your voice be heard. Be polite. Be kind.
And if that doesn't work, many websites sell advertising, so you can always find your own taste makers that way. You can also put your book up for free for one day, to try to get it to appear on top one hundred book lists. That's another taste maker.
2. Participation I love this idea, especially when it comes to self-publishing. How can you get your readers to participate in your book?
One of the reason's I've heard why Stephanie Meyer became so successful, is that in the beginning, she communicated with her readers. She made comments on other people's blogs. She became friends with her readers, and asked her friends to tell their friends about her book. Her fan's took ownership of the idea, It became their book. She had a prom, and other big events, where she socialized with her fans.
Respond politely to those who reviewed and enjoyed your work.
Every person with a facebook account, has a bit of a tastemaker in their status. All it takes is pushing the share button, and people participate.
I think the key to marketing your book, is allowing readers to participate, and own, a bit of the story.
3. Unexpectedness Originality. Surprise. Be different.
I think the content of the story will determine how special a story is, and what makes it different from the pile of content that will be ignored. Get a good cover. Make it stand out, be different from others in genre. Don't put a picture of a white girl in a prom dress on the cover.
Make it good. Make it worth mentioning.
4. Don't give up. The main thing I got from the video, is how a story could be ignored for a while, and then one day it might just explode into popularity. So if you've self-published, and haven't made it big yet, don't be discouraged. Find a taste maker, and then watch your numbers soar.
Most publishers only choose two or three debut writers a year, and receive thousands of submissions. Now, I know in that thousand are a certain number of books that are horrible, but I think a large percentage of these books are actually pretty darn awesome. Those pretty darn awesome books, before self-publishing, would be wasting away in a file somewhere, but now with self-publishing, those books can find an audience. Those books can go viral. Those books can make the author money.
I think to say, or think, that an author who is self-published isn't actually an author, is like thinking Justin Beiber isn't actually a superstar, because he started out through YouTube.
Self-publishing is the future of publishing. Don't be ashamed of publishing through it.