The idea of producing an affordable version of my book Streams of Consciousness is to reach a wider audience than is currently possible with my artist’s book. To achieve this I do need to sell it of course. The way I have chosen to promote the book is via social media, namely Facebook and Instagram.
I have watched the way photographers promote their publications on Facebook and Instagram, and the usual approach is a series of ‘teasers’ – short posts with an image from the work and some background about the work and the title and proposed publication date. Many of these publications are funded via Kickstarter, but that is because they have significant up-front costs due to commercial printing and distribution. My approach was different – print the book myself and keep the costs as low as possible. Effectively I could operate a print-on demand service but without the high costs of one-off printing. I could group the orders received, printing the books and then take them to my local bookbinder in batches. So I used the build-up approach but without asking for any financial commitment in advance.
Before this project my Instagram presence was minimal. I made few posts and followed few people, so inevitably I had few followers. So I did some reading on building up followers and then adapted what I read to my own needs. I wanted to avoid simply following huge numbers of people and then hoping they would follow me back. Followers acquired in this way would be unlikely to buy my book I think. So I spent time following up all connections I have made through photography, including : OCA; photographers and photography professionals I have worked with through Photo Meet; the RPS; and my local camera club.
The rough rule I made for myself was that I would only follow people who showed some serious interest in photography. These people would be more likely to buy my book I thought. Once I had followed someone it was important of course to show some interest in their work. Again, I didn’t want to apply blanket ‘likes’ to everything, but if I did not demonstrate some engagement I could hardly expect them to show an interest in my work. I also need to share interesting work of my own. There was a process of trial and error in posting and assessing the response. I also need to build a series of posts which showed some coherence and provided context. Then I could begin to publicise my Streams of Consciousness work and my forthcoming book.
Over a period of a few weeks I increased my followers from around 40 to over 140. Still not a huge number, but a significant percentage increase, and still increasing.
On Facebook I followed a similar approach, but this platform lends itself to including more text, allowing more contextualisation of the work. So it was here I chose to launch the book. There is of course an overlap between my Facebook ‘friends’ and my Instagram followers, so I followed up with launch info on Instagram and cross-referred.
I announced the book as a replica of my linen artist’s book, with a video of leafing through the book on Facebook. It is in a signed edition of 100, and I sold 13 copies on the first day.