First off, let’s change a word in that title. Let’s strike out
disabled and replace it with differently abled because it’s not that you and I can’t, it’s more like we often need to go about things differently. Regardless, disabled is the more common term, so I left it in the title.
How do I, as a differently-abled author, handle book promotion? Here’s my go-to list along with some explanations and tips that I hope will help other authors long their way.
- Website – If you’re an author, you should have an active website devoted to your work and writing in general, including cross-promoting other authors. If at all possible, create your own website, whether it’s a paid or free one is up to you, but if you can’t then get someone to help you
- Twitter – The twitterverse is often a nightmare of conflict but, if you can stay clear of that, it’s a fairly good place to do a bit of promo. (Note: that does not mean I suggest doing paid ads there.) Here’s a link to a post that tells you how to create clickable images in tweets without creating or paying for an ad. And there are some excellent Twitter chats out there too. Investigate and see which one(s) might work for you. My regular chat is #writestuff at 9 p.m. Eastern. It’s a small chat that’s easy for me to follow via Tweetdeck, a social account platform that goes with Twitter. I don’t have multiple Twitter accounts, but it lets me isolate the chat from my general feed so I can keep up.
- Facebook – FB, in my experience, is best for socializing with other authors more than it is for connecting with readers. I have a private page as well as an author page. The former is much more active than the latter. Like with Twitter, I am not advising you to use FB’s paid ads. In fact, I discouraged it. I’ve used FB ads and nothing came of it. Zip. It was a waste of money.
- Instagram – If you take a lot of photos, this is great. I’m not big into Instagram because my hands tremor too much to take a decent photo. Some authors are, however, excellent at using Instagram, and if it’s your thing, then use it to your advantage. Yes, I have an Instagram account. No, I don’t use it like I should. (NOTE: My Instagram had an old password, meaning it was hacked and all my access was removed because foolish me hadn’t put two-layered authentification in place). Sigh. I have a new account, but I haven’t posted to it yet. If you come across the Instagram account jlgfellers – it’s the hacked one. My new Instagram is jeannegfellers.) I know nothing about Instagram ads, if there is such a thing.
- Tumblr –
I use my Tumblr repost my blogs. I don’t have a significant following there, but I haven’t really tried either.(Because of the Instagram scare, I deleted my Tumblr account. It wasn’t worth the risk.)
- Goodreads – Goodreads reposts my blogs too, and I get some feedback from readers via the site.
- Youtube – if you like to vlog, this is a goldmine for you. If you make your own book trailers (most authors have little success doing them), then post yours there. I’m now using Youtube to share playlists for my Appalachian Elemental series, and I’ve had a nice response from readers. In short, they think it’s ingenious, and they really like it. (grin) I just think it’s fun. I’ve research Goodreads ads and they’re out of my budget, as is their book contests/giveaways.
- Amazon Author Central – A must if you’re selling books on Amazon, even through a traditional publisher. Link your blog, post appearances, link your profile to your books. You can advertise with Amazon on a budget and it’s something I’m looking into.
- There are lots of other social media outlets such as wattpad and Pinterest (the latter of which I plan on investigating for my writing). Search for what works best for you. I know nothing about advertising where these platforms are concerned.
There are lots of other social media avenues out there, so please investigate but consider your time and energy limits before you plunge into anything. The ones above are the ones I choose to use, and several link directly to my blog so when I post there, I post in other locations too.
- Find one that fits and that you can afford. There are as many tours out there as there are prices. Find ones that fit your story and budget then compare them to get the most for your money.
- Find other sites that will host you – if you have friends in the writing world, make use of them.
- Be prepared to return the favor – If someone promotes your work on their site, be willing to return the favor while adhering to your personal standards. (case in point – I won’t knowingly promote any work with erotic or explicit sexual content)
- Prepare well ahead of time so you won’t be scrambling and stressing at the last minute. That’s a disastrous combo if you’re disabled.
Reviews are problematic for small/new authors whether they’re disabled or not. And finding good (honest) reviews is difficult. Amazon is really picky about what they’ll allow these days. This means your friends and family shouldn’t post reviews for you. I’ve even read that their bots even check social media against reviews and will delete whatever fits into their algorithm. Other sites, like Goodreads, have less strict guidelines. Use that to your advantage.
What about paying for reviews? First, no. Second, no.
If you’re disabled, this is probably the largest obstacle you’ll face as an author.
Here are my barriers: limited mobility, easily tired, tremors, chronic pain, no longer drive because of antiepileptic medications.
So how does that limit me? I stay local or regional with my appearances, so I can always return to the comfort of home.
If you’re going to make appearances I suggest the following:
- Know your limits
- Ask for help
- Don’t overdo it – don’t make your appearances over 1-2 hours long and stagger them to reduce fatigue
- Make use of your adaptive equipment. Don’t shy away from using your cane, walker, wheelchair – don’t be embarrassed. Use them as a proud extension of who you are.
- Sit if you need to.
Signing and Signatures
This is also difficult for me because of my tremors, blurry vision, and minor hearing loss. Here’s how I suggest authors combat these issues:
- Make your signing messages simple and keep them, in list form, on the table in case you forget. (brain fog can be a real problem)
- Use pens you’re comfortable with.
- Know your writing isn’t going to be beautiful, so strive for legibility.
- Consider using a stamp for your message. Readers will understand if you’re disabled, but remember to add your signature, even if it’s just the first letter of your first name written large.
- Have someone with you at all times during a signing in case you need assistance.
- Have someone designated to handle purchases so you can concentrate on interacting with your readers. This makes things a lot less stressful.
If you’re disabled, consider appearing on podcasts and don’t be afraid to ask if you can appear. Researching podcasts for writers and inside your genre is a good place to start.
For me, it’s hoping podcast days don’t fall on days my speech decides to slur. If it is, so be it. I’ll address the issue early then go on without apologies. I can’t help it, and listeners will widely look past it to listen to you.
- Have someone there to help you if need be.
- Invest in a decent headset or mic that fits your needs.
- Get comfortable beforehand
I think the key to a successful book promotion, especially if you are disabled, is planning ahead. There’ll always be something unexpected that comes along. Just yesterday I had another author who’s featuring me next week, send me a private FB message saying that I hadn’t sent the materials they needed. Oops. I gathered and sent them ahead. It wasn’t a big deal because I was otherwise ahead of the game.
So, know your limits, don’t be afraid to ask for help, listen to your body. It’s as simple as that.
Good luck with your next promo.