Self-Printing: The Best Things Online are Free

Last time on Self-Printing: One Writer’s Journey Type Thingy Through Self-Publication, Except, Because She’s Being Realistic, She’s Calling It Self-Printing, I went public with my self-publishing plans, i.e. my intention to adopt the permanent headache that is POD for two or three months just so I could lay claim to an ISBN – the Holy Grail! – and sell 17 copies, ten of them to my mother.

At half-off.

But should you want to sell more than 17 copies – maybe even, gasp! More than 25 – there are plenty of things you can do to spread the word about your opus, and they cost absolutely nothing except time.

(Well, time and your monthly broadband payment.)

Right now – a week before ‘publication’ – there’s about thirty websites I’ve bookmarked where, eventually, I will spread the word about my book. These range from a site that showcases book trailers to a start-up that promises to increase traffic to your blog using a gardening metaphor. (Yes, I’m confused too.) And just as soon as I’ve recovered from getting the book put together, I’ll go do all that.

In the meantime, let’s talk about the Big 3. If you are a writer with a book or you think you might be in the future, you need to have each of these. They’re free, they don’t take too much time and one of them is so much fun you’ll wonder what you did with your life before it. (Had one, maybe…?)

My Twitter Page

1. Twitter

Ah, Twitter. Let me count the ways I love thee…

I signed up for Twitter around a year ago, but rarely used it and when I did, it was to talk to my real life friends and/or cyberstalk my future husband (he doesn’t know it), John Mayer. Then last Autumn I hid away in a little cottage by the sea for eight weeks to write my novel, which was great and all, but it was also internet-free and a black hole of mobile phone reception. Twitter downloaded faster to my phone than Facebook or e-mail, so I turned to it for a connection to the outside world.

Twitter is a fantastic place for writers. I might even go so far as to say that writers, more than anyone, can get the most out of Twitter – but for support and community, not for self-promotion. No one likes the guy who only tweets about his book or his blog or his get rich quick scheme, and brackets every tweet with ‘PLEASE RT PLEASE RT PLEASE RT.’ (For the record, I rarely retweet things I’m asked to retweet. If you want me to retweet something, make it worth retweeting.) I’ll be telling you specifically how I use Twitter for promotional purposes – and why I use it very, very sparingly for promotional purposes – in a later post. For now, if you don’t know what the hell I’m on about or if you’re a writer who’d like to get more out of your Twitter experience, you need to read the fabulous Debbi Ridpath Ohi’s Writers Guide to Twitter.

Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

Mousetrapped's Facebook page.

2. Facebook

Did you know anyone can set up a Facebook fan page? I didn’t, but it turns out anyone can and it’s easy to do. This was the route I used to tell all my Real Life friends that I was self-publishing the book I’d been on about for the last year or so, the book that a few of them would soon be starring in. Facebook pages are great because you can add things like photos, videos, reviews and with one of the additional applications, you can even design your own landing pages and boxes (like a ‘Buy Me’ box, for example). You can also send updates to all of your fans with the click of a button, but the bad news is you have to get fans first. I’ve found that begging all of your friends to do it works a treat. Promising them that having a fan page means you won’t be clogging up your everyday, personal Facebook page with ‘Buy my bloody book’ updates helps too.

Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

Mousetrappedbook.com

3. Blog/Website

I wanted an online home for my book, a place people could go who wanted to know more. As my book is non-fiction, I have loads of related photos and videos which I want to share with potential readers, or people who have already read it and wonder what the people or places in it really look like. Websites, however, cost money. What doesn’t cost money is a free WordPress blog made to look like a website. By focusing on Pages instead of Posts – I have just one post, for example, on my Mousetrapped site – and by choosing your theme carefully, your free ‘blog’ can look just as good as a dedicated website. (Well, I think it does, anyway.) And it costs nothing.

Read all my self-printing posts or read about the book I self-printed.

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