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Marrying Your Marketing

Marrying Your Marketing

career marketing publishing self-publishing Oct 06, 2023

If there’s one belief in the world of writing that I will stand by until the end of time, it’s that every writer, no matter their experience, has shared the same devastation of unruly doubt when it comes to getting their book in front of an audience.

And if there’s one thing I’m fairly certain of, but not on a bet-your-life level, it’s that 99% of those said writers would be unsure if they truly had what it takes to create something that won’t simply be added to a stack of dusty old charity-shop finds because the cover looked interesting. Ouch.

You’ve done it.

The years of undying labor - centuries if you’re an eternal being of the night like myself - have paid off and you are a manageable number of button presses away from having the polished product ready to go.

You should be shaking infinitely with excitement, passion, heck, we’ll try to be humble here but a little pride is healthy, especially in the world of writing. Every atom of your earthly vessel should be buzzing with life, bursting to the brim with an endless wave of possibilities for the future.


What if your internal reactions are quite the opposite? 

Dread is not an appropriate emotion to be feeling after you’ve traveled all this way, conquering the pages one by one until the heavy work is well behind you, yet, that all consuming self-loathing that arises in the face of the mountain you are yet to climb is inescapable.


It feels like it's only just begun, because it has only just begun.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work, you can, and if you believe in your work like I believe in your work, you will.

Because it’s your only choice.

You never know, you could end up enjoying it.

Firstly, the world of agents, publishing and self-publishing in itself is a whole minefield that we’ll skip with elegance today, as no matter what route you find yourself preparing for, they all share a mutual enemy…



Or shall I say…?



I know, I know, we signed up to be the creator of worlds, the invokers of change, the painters of words, not social media gurus, or dare I utter the word of evil, marketers.

Don’t fear, however, most authors will experience hair-pulling despair as the daunting task looms closer, with only those blessed with the sacred energy of perfection having the ability to snap out of it before fear has its chance to immobilize any plans of action they may have.



Think about it, we are living in an ever-changing age where the moment we get the hang of the latest internet trend, we’ve already been outdated by another five hundred and in our case - and trust me, you’ll believe it once you see it - it’s a good thing.

In comparison to how things ran in the times before we had an interconnected web at our fingertips, we as authors, aspiring or not, are extremely privileged with access to an infinite number of ways and social media platforms that can help us get our precious babies in front of an army of hundreds, thousands, or if you hit the jackpot, millions.

“Sure, but I won’t get followers without content, and who will be interested in page flips and cover-reveals by an author they’ve never heard of…”

I hear ya, it’s a vicious cycle, you don’t have to tell me, but like any other cycle, it can be broken.


You are a storyteller, so go tell your story.

Your words have always been your power, no matter where you are using them. 

Here’s a little story from me, but first of all, who am I? Not anyone exciting, really, I’ve yet to complete a novel despite having been feeding words into a machine from the second I learnt how to write, nor have I any work published, unless you count a messy poetry book from infant school, which I doubt you do. I have been shortlisted a few times with my debut screenplay, which surprise-surprise, is now being turned into my debut novel, but other than that I wouldn’t say I’ve had a major success or any kind of breakthrough.

What I do have is nearly a thousand TikTok followers, over six thousand likes and nearly three thousand ‘saves’ for a book I haven’t finished writing.

“Shut up.”

No, I’m serious, and all it took was a few months of cracking on with it and ignoring that nagging old-boot inside my head reminding me of all the reasons why I am ridiculous. The main motivator for my commitment was that I enjoyed it as much as I love putting words to the page, I saw the videos I created as an extension of my book - a sneaky peak into my story world.

Using AI generated images I was able to illustrate all my complex themes in an accessible and effective manner. Plop a few engaging hooks and relevant tropes on top, along with a trending song, and I found myself with the ability to attract potential readers from all over the world.

For those not familiar with the creative insanity that is trusty old Booktok, it’ll be your new best friend if you let it, but then again, we reach the how


This is where our old pal Controversy rears its ugly head

I built my prospective audience through short 20-60 second clips, ranging in content but loosely sticking to my usual format. It was a slow process to start and when I was at the peak of my devotion I was posting three videos a day.

Like anything, it wasn’t a get-known-quick scheme and the growth was particularly frustrating at the best of times, with most of my videos maxing out at a few hundreds views.

It felt like I’d won an incredibly unpredictable and chaotic lottery whenever a video gained traction, I had new followers, comments and saves flooding in so fast that I’m surprised it didn’t knock me off my feet.

My successes peaked at around six thousand views around the time that TikTok introduced ‘picture slideshows’, which no doubt had something to do with the algorithm trying to push out its new and cherished feature, but nonetheless, it helped me to understand just how effective catching your target audience’s eye at the right time can be.

Tiktok wasn’t the only platform I discovered to be beneficial for this type of content, I was cross posting to all the majors including Instagram, Youtube Shorts, Facebook, all of which required hardcore dedication in order to unlock their ultimate potential, easily expected with the amount of pre-existing content floating from other authors in a similar boat.

The one gem that showed the most promise was also the most unexpected, Pinterest. Admittedly, I didn’t pay it a fraction of the attention I should (or could) have and I know if I had it would have gathered interest on the same level Tiktok had bought me, but maybe I’ll come back to it one day, or maybe I won’t, whatever happens, I know it’s out there and it worked with what I was doing at the time.

I picked the AI art idea up from a Facebook group for indie authors. At the time, my attention-harnessing ‘mini-stories’ seemed harmless enough as there were countless other Authortokkers doing a similar thing with great success, so naturally, I jumped on the bandwagon, added my own-spin on things and off on my way to avoiding the post-final-draft dread I was. 



"Are you crazy? Why?"

What you can’t see from the above image is that I ceased posting to TikTok in April this year, only four months after I opened my account in December. Why? If I had managed to collect the numbers I had in such a short time frame, why? Did I lose my marbles? Was it an inexplicable act of self sabotage that us authors are awfully prone to?

The answer is a complex one in which I feel has a valuable lesson to learn when it comes to experimentation and testing the market. It started when I fell ill and didn’t have enough energy to write the book, yet alone advertise it! By the time I had recuperated and was ready to hit the scene again, the use of AI art was no longer a new concept and the issues that had been flagged rang major alarm bells to me.

I chose not to continue promoting my content with AI art due to the morality of the subject. 

As a writer, I would be absolutely mortified, livid and several other adjectives that make up not an enraged individual, if I were to discover an algorithm had ripped off my work and dished it up to some unsuspecting user as an ‘automated piece’.

In all honesty, the unethical foundations of which my preferred, and many of its competitors, image generation software is built upon is a stinking shame. As someone with bare minimal graphic skills, and even less time to develop them, AI art was a goldmine for me, opening up a whole array of opportunities to get my concepts in front of my target audience in a visually engaging way and since my decision to not proceed, I am yet to come up with an alternative.

If I had the resources to create or commission my own art, or if a miracle happens and someone develops an AI generator with permission to use the source images, I would no doubt continue with my little endeavor, but for now, it’s back to the drawing board, just not literally…



I learnt more about my audience in 4 months than I did in 4 years

Yes, that really is how long I’ve been working on my debut. 

It wasn’t time lost though, I learnt a lot about what gets my target audience going, all the tropes they suck up like that weirdo that drinks leftover gravy out of the jug - yes that’s me, I am that weirdo - and most of all I was able to figure out what was working in my novel and what needed a heck of a lot more sparkle.

Not to mention that when I do eventually get around to publishing, I have a couple thousand people that were once raring to check it out, my fault they’ve probably forgotten about it now, but who knows, there’s bound to be a few that will make it all that hassle worthwhile.

The reason why I, as an unpublished author, love TikTok so much is that it has its own bookish community which the competitor networks do not have.

With the swipe of a finger you can find not only readers but also other authors in your genre, including most abstract niches, take me and my solarpunk fixation as a prime example. Then there’s the benefits of the official Booktok and its reward system, which is an untouched language to me, something I never became part of, but that’s a whole other article in itself.


It’s not about how you connect with potential readers that’s important, it is the connection itself. Every day the internet is hit with another trend and with new platforms popping up left, right and center, if you spend the time to work out where your future fan-base hangs out, observe what’s working for others and then find a way to incorporate that into something fresh and eye-catching enough to make people remember you, you’ll be onto a winner in no time.



So go and plant them.


F. Abika
Written for The Plottery

F. Abika, otherwise known as the hopeful dystopian, is a neurodivergent, all-round creative from Brighton, UK. Born with a head stuck in a realm that doesn’t exist, F has had her head stuck in a screen ever since the moment she was old enough to turn one on. Creative writing has always been an escape from a world that lacked the ability to understand a mind such as hers and after a lifetime of dilly-dallying around future pathways, she has finally settled and is working towards her debut novel Ethereall, the first of a trilogy.


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