I’ve been pursuing writing as a career for a little less than a year, and in that time I’ve managed to do a lot—start a blog, jumpstart my social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Ello—it’s nearly a full-time job simply managing those), find beta readers and writer friends, and submit guest posts to numerous websites.

Oh. And I wrote a book.

Yes, this summer I wrote a novel (and rewrote it, and had it beta-read, and rewrote it again for another round of beta-reading, and rewrote it again before sending it to my copyeditor) and released it December 13th of this year. It’s called “The Charismatics” and you can find it on Amazon now—but read this first. It’s important.

Gearing up for the marketing section of this whole fantastic, exhilarating ride to publishing, I began to realize something.

I had made a mistake. I had missed something important, nay, vital, to the success of my book. I had started the blog, filling it with equal parts pithy, personal posts and informative ones on writing. I had made the Twitter and met the tweeps and gotten some really great connections out of it. I had hired the cover designer and the formatter and the editor and polished my book so hard that it (hopefully) shines with the achingly-white brightness of fluorescent lighting on a midsummer afternoon.

But I hadn’t yet done something that truly mattered when it came to selling my book—finding readers to buy it. 

*cue blood-curdling screams and nails down chalkboards and every other horror movie cliché that Stephen King has written into existence*

Have you fallen into the same trap? Surrounded yourself with experts of the writing craft and other new authors to commiserate with when writer’s block hits, but nary an epic fantasy reader in sight? Yeah, me too.

All hope is not lost! It’s just going to take a little creativity, and interaction with others (I know, the horror!) to fix this. And it will be worth it, because if you can find your readers—your “clan,” so they say, those fans who will buy everything you write and shout your name from the rooftops so that when you hear the word “marketing” you will laugh at its preposterousness and find a sunset to skip off into—then you’ve made things infinitely easier on yourself, and can get back to the most important task—writing books.

Though my book is a young adult fantasy novel, these tips can be tailored to any genre—non-fiction, memoir, self-help book. The main thing to do here is find where your readers hang out. Let’s go:

1) Clean your Twitter up. And I don’t just mean to unfollow devoid accounts—I mean to follow READERS. Not solely writers. Easy way to do this? Put a hashtag in the search bar pertaining to your book and see what comes up. Follow them, tweet interesting stuff about your book (and yourself, don’t be a spambot), and voila! Potential readers.

2) Find websites to review your book. This doesn’t just refer to ones you can pay for—though I’ve heard blog tours and book blitzes can be good for sales, they can cost a couple hundred dollars (plus, it feels strangely odd to pay someone to read my book; heck, I’ll give it to you for free, but to pay you? To read my book? No thanks).

I discovered a new tactic—find reviews for books that are similar to yours. Let’s take my book for example; it’s similar to both Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass” and Samantha Shannon’s “The Bone Season.” So I searched their reviews online and found a plethora of websites that reviewed both books, and most of them were free! And accepting indie books!

3) Increase your Facebook presence. A LOT. I have over 500 friends on Facebook—people I’ve met over the years, studied in Europe with, known from high school, and beyond. Once I started posting about my book release about two months ago, interest in “The Charismatics” skyrocketed. For example, I gained nearly 100 subscribers to my mailing list solely from posting on Facebook. Why is this? Personally, I think it’s because these people know me, and are proud/excited that I’ve written a book. They’ll feel the same for you.

4) Put your book on Goodreads. I haven’t explored this website too much, but it’s a resource for readers so it’s obviously an important place to be. I think the main thing to keep in mind is to advertise here with a light hand—not “friending” tons of people to then recommend your book to them. Be cordial, and join some groups. Get to legitimately know readers there, and then start adding your book to Goodreads lists.

5) Offer free print copies to local libraries to lend out. If you’ve printed with CreateSpace (or any other printing press, for that matter), your book has an ISBN. There shouldn’t be any problem with a library carrying a few copies—and don’t forget to offer them the e-book as well. I use my library’s “OverDrive” app to check out e-books, and my own novel’s e-book file worked flawlessly with it. Don’t forget to suggest doing an in-person book reading!

6) Contact local high schools or community centers, particularly meetings/age groups that pertain to your book. Don’t just make it about “selling your book” however—put together a PowerPoint presentation that will interest and benefit your audience in some way. Memoir about your divorce? Find a Meet Up group in the area to talk with. Non-fiction about living gluten-free? Same thing.

7) Print bookmarks/business cards to hand out. Now when the opportunity arises, you have an easy memento with your product so that people will remember it. My bookmarks include the cover of “The Charismatics,” where it can be found (Amazon and my website), my contact info, and a headshot. It’s simple, it’s eye-catching, and when I see my hairdresser or meet my sister’s friends, they will now have an easy reminder that I’ve written a book and it’s available now.

There you have it—my tips on ways to reach those who will buy your book. Feel free to share thoughts, comments, and other ideas in the comments below!

2013-12-08 16.19.51Ashley R. Carlson grew up wanting a talking animal friend and superpowers, and when that didn’t happen, she decided to write them into existence. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with three (non-talking) pets and one overactive imagination. Follow Ashley R. Carlson’s writing at www.ashleyrcarlson.com, and find her on Twitter @AshleyRCarlson1 and www.facebook.com/ashleyrcarlson1.1

Charismatics_FRONT 2An arranged marriage. A corrupt government called Legalia. A forbidden spiritual realm. Duchess Ambrose Killaher was just seventeen-years-old when exiled to Shinery—a city of snow and darkness—to marry a man who despised her, finding her only solace in an invisible companion named Roan.

Now as the poor starve in the streets below and rebellious acts become a frequent occurrence, Shinery holds its yearly celebration to commemorate Legalia’s rule. But when Ambrose stumbles into a hidden courtroom and witnesses a violent murder, she is thrust into a secret world of the supernatural—one that could endanger everyone she cares for. With the help of a handsome stranger, Ambrose learns of the past Legalia has covered up, and that she alone possesses the power to stop their unspeakable plans for the future. Find it on Amazon and Goodreads now.