Hope. It is the hope that kills, every single time.
In the context of self-publishing as a Nigerian author, it is probably the hope that your purportedly stellar work would somehow sell itself and bring you recognition based on limited marketing.
Perhaps, you have come to accept the daunting state of affairs, such that you no longer care about profit. You may convince yourself that your work merely being out there is a reward in itself.
However, your book need not be a labour of love. It is a reflection of months (or years) of brainstorming, extensive research, writing, editing, querying and whatnot. You deserve to earn money and recognition from your work, the same way your work deserves the very best branding and marketing strategy you can ideate and execute.
There is value in your work, value that a good number of people are in dire need of. You need to build the necessary bridges and channels to reach your target audience.
Easier said than done, anyway.
Whether your book format is solely physical, digital, or both, a handful of marketing hacks can be distilled from the present digital dispensation. It begs restating that you already have a top-notch, thoroughly edited body of work in place.
Personal Branding and Networking
Logically, people buy from who they know. People are also more disposed to buying from brands they connect with; brands that are clearly defined and satisfactorily packaged.
You are not just an author, but a brand. So, who are you as an author? What kinds of books do you write? Who do you write for? Is there more to you than just writing? How consistently do you show up on social media? Do you show up at literary events? How well do your industry colleagues know you, if at all?
These are the guiding questions that you must clearly answer in the preliminary stages of your book marketing strategy. No one else will answer them for you, or as authentically as you would.
A social media presence is inevitable as a Nigerian author seeking to self-publish. You need a social media strategy, or at least, a clear cut idea of the kinds of posts you would be making and engaging. A professional touch in this regard is not a bad investment, if you have the funds.
In essence, you need to sell yourself first, before anything else.
This is the product itself. While it must be aesthetically pleasing, you must also align the branding with the message and themes of the book. You cannot brand a children’s storybook the way you would a self-help book for adults.
You must work with your graphic designer or design team in yielding multiple possible designs. This is geared towards making the best choice after you have showed close associates and gauged their responses.
You must also draft a fitting synopsis and possibly work with a copywriter in yielding sales copy for social media and your mailing list. Copy in this regard must succinctly capture the book and its themes while intriguing your prospects.
Rollout, Interviews, Advertisements and Liaisons
You must place the right blocks and in the right order. You could start by teasing your book on social media while you are still working on it. Then, you could announce the title and unveil the official cover on separate occasions.
With the right budget in place, you can request interviews with YouTubers or podcasters with a sufficient reach. This would give you the platform to introduce yourself to new prospects, while going in-depth about your work and why it is worth anyone’s time and money.
You could also host a live session on Instagram or be the guest of an influential Instagram user with a bigger following than you.
Social media ads, especially on Facebook and Instagram, can take your work even further. You could also tow the traditional route of going on television or radio, or paying for a pop-up in a mall. You could also liaise with the organisers of literary events to secure pop-ups to sell your work.
Recall the key phrase: with the right budget in place.
Post-Launch Publicity and Promotions
Like anyone selling anything else, a Nigerian author marketing a self-published work must endeavour to be in people’s faces. You have to hawk your work and subdue the feeling that people may be weary of you. People get weary of things every time.
Your post-launch publicity is just as important as your roll-out. For at least a year after your book’s release, you must make the necessary moves to make people aware of your book and its value. In the Nigerian context, you could set up a promo with the right budget in place.
The dreaded aspect of any endeavour. You need to invest in your work to see any tangible results.
Pitching your work to business executives with well-curated presentations may not yield much, so one must make the necessary sacrifice of using personal funds and borrowing from close associates.
All in all, traditional publishing in Nigeria is an uphill task. As such, intending self-published authors must be willing to take the fight to the system with effective strategies. Calculated risks, rejections, and setbacks are inevitable in this regard. Giving up becomes more and more appealing in the first stages.
While hope backed by nothing more is inefficacious in this regard, it is also a major element that would keep one going while all the marketing strategies enter execution.