1 March 2021

Guest Post: Writing a Novel, by Saga Hillbom ~ Part Three: The Marketing Process

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1483, Westminster. The bells toll for the dead king, Edward IV, while his rivaling nobles grasp for power. His daughter Cecily can only watch as England is plunged into chaos, torn between her loyalties to her headstrong mother, Elizabeth Woodville, and her favourite uncle, Richard of Gloucester. When Elizabeth schemes to secure her own son on the throne that Richard lays claim to, Cecily and her siblings become pawns in a perilous game.

As mentioned in my guest post about the publishing process, my favourite thing to do is to write. The surrounding bits, such as publishing and marketing, were long uncharted territory for me. However, I have begun to put more effort into these aspects of being an author. In this post, I will go through a few tips for new writers, and talk about what I have done when marketing my upcoming historical novel Princess of Thorns. It is worth noting that while I am self-published, marketing is equally crucial for traditionally published authors.

Firstly, I would give a tip which is fairly obvious nowadays, namely to maintain an online presence. Aside from an author website, you need to be consistently active on some kind of social media. Pick 1-3 platforms that you can dedicate your time to. I have personally been a little lacking in my twitter presence, but post content on Instagram every day. Indeed, Instagram has been my main marketing tool for Princess of Thorns. 

It is where a lot of my target audience (mainly females above the age of 15, with an interest in history) spend their time. When I began marketing my latest novel, approximately six months before its release date, I also launched a series of Instagram posts. They are short, factual texts about everything related to the historical context of my book. I alternate them with aesthetically pleasing edits of period dramas. This is partly because movies and TV-shows are easy ways to attract people’s attention. Moreover, it provides variation.

My second tip would be to send free pre-release copies of your book to anyone who might be interested in writing a review. Of course, it is a bonus if the person has a large following on social media or is a fellow author, but each review counts. When raising awareness about Princess of Thorns, I acquainted myself with numerous experienced readers of historical fiction. Some of them were glad to collaborate with me. What I think is important to remember, though, is that no one owes you anything. Many will not respond to your messages, others will say ‘no thank you’, and still others will give bad reviews. That is entirely up to them.

Related to the practice of sending out pre-release copies, you should also contact bloggers and podcasters. It can be daunting when you are a new writer, but one never gets anything if one does not ask, as my grandmother once said. Reach out to people. This is an area in which I can definitely improve myself, but with Princess of Thorns, I have felt like a part of the writing community more than ever.

Lastly, there are paid book promotion sites and giveaways. Giveaways are quite self-explanatory. As for paid book promotion sites, they can be effective as long as you choose wisely. Also, if you pick a site that only promotes, for example, free ebooks, be certain that you run a Kindle promo simultaneously. Otherwise, your book will not actually be free to download. I know plenty of authors who consider it a pity to give away one’s book like this. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that the more people who read my work, the happier I am, whether they pay for it or not. I should mention that I am not dependent on royalties for my upkeep.

When you begin marketing, writing all of a sudden becomes a business. That was a tough pill for me to swallow at first. I still do not measure my ‘success’ or ‘failure’ by how many copies of my book people buy or download. Instead, I look at the reviews, the lovely comments I receive, and at whether I am happy with the finished book itself. Most authors will never be bestsellers. In fact, most authors will never be able to make a living off their writing. 

While accepting this, I have still done my best to market Princess of Thorns, for the sake of practice if nothing else. I figure I might have 70 years of writing, publishing, and marketing ahead of me. Bearing that in mind, I hope to someday be as good at marketing as I am at writing rubbish first drafts. I also hope that this post about marketing tips and my experience so far has been helpful to someone.

Saga Hillbom

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About the Author

Saga Hillbom is the self-published author of four historical novels, including Princess of Thorns, City of Bronze City of Silver, Today Dauphine Tomorrow Nothing, and A Generation of Poppies. She is currently studying history in Lund, Sweden, where she lives with her family. When not writing or reading, Saga enjoys painting, cooking, spending time outside, and watching old movies.. To find out more, visit her website sagahillbom.blog and follow Saga on Twitter @sagahillbom02

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