As always in conversations about self-publishing, the subject of marketing your book comes up. I hosted a Twitter chat last week on Self-Publishing, and people wanted to talk more about marketing than anything else.
I get this. I mean, we all want people to find our books; we write so people can read our work. But when people ask me what my plans are for marketing my books, I have to tell them, I have no immediate plans.
And here’s why.
- I don’t have enough content.
You don’t need a marketing plan if you have no content. (Good grammar for a writer, huh?) Various numbers come up, but I follow @BadRedheadMedia‘s #bookmarketingchat on Twitter, and in one of her tweets, she said your career doesn’t start an upswing unless you have 6 to 10 books published. That seems like an impossibly high number, and when I first started in self-publishing, that number was 3 to 5. But with all the new writers publishing books, it’s harder and harder to make a name for yourself, and I believe that number will get higher as the market floods even more.
- I don’t want to throw money at one or two books.
This kind of goes hand in hand with number one. I do have content, but not enough to warrant paying for any kind of marketing. Even if you were to stumble upon a plan that works and drew people to your book, after you draw those readers in, they’re done. They have no backlist to read through if they like your work. I’m too poor to start over every time I publish a new book. When you spend on an ad to market one book, you’re actually advertising your whole list.
- I genre-hopped.
I wrote a Romantic Fantasy for my first go at publishing. I wrote it expressly to experiment with publishing, to get a feel for the process. On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton is two different novellas of the same story, one told from my male main character’s point of view, and one told from my main female character’s point of view. Summer Secrets is six novellas. The story is about six couples told in chronological order, and I published them together so readers would be forced to read them that way. These are Erotica and not my genre of choice. Since I’ve published those, I’ve settled into Contemporary Romance, full-length novels at that, and I don’t want to spend money on books that are not in my genre. When I market my books, I’ll market books that will be the foundation of my writing career. There is no point in marketing books in a genre I won’t write anymore.
- I’m researching how I want to market my book.
I’m reading books right now on how to run Amazon ads, how to run successful Facebook Ads. I read a book on how to use Goodreads as an author. Marketing takes time and money—I don’t want to try these vendors without knowing what I’m doing. I talk to people who have tried various things and they say they don’t work, but they didn’t take the time to figure out how they work so they don’t waste money. It’s important to know what CPC (cost per click) is, what RT (not retweet, you tweeters) Read-Through means, and how to calculate ROI (Return on Investment, not a weird spelling of your sister’s boyfriend’s name). Knowing this stuff puts you ahead of the game, so you’re not wasting money on tactics that won’t work. Here’s a tip: If a person put together a class, say Mark Dawson and his Facebook Ads class, then that way of advertising is complicated and investing a few hours of your time to learn how it works and maybe learn some insider tips can only help you.
- I’m networking.
Yes, networking is a part of marketing. When you hear that you should start networking a year before your book comes out, that’s not a lie. Some suggest even longer. You need to get to know book bloggers—be a blip on their radar as an acquaintance, even a friend, before you have a book to peddle. There is nothing more irritating than having someone introduce themselves to you for the sole reason to ask something of you. Follow them on Twitter, like their FB page. Wish them a nice day, or a great weekend. Listen to podcasts by successful indie authors, like their FB pages, follow them on Twitter, read their books. Become involved in the indie-publishing community. Everyone knows everyone in this business, and you want everyone to know you. I listen to The Sell More Books Show podcast, and Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen host. Bryan Cohen wrote a book, How to Write Sizzling Synopsis, which I bought to support him since I love the podcast. It’s a wonderful book, and I’ve written Don’t Run Away’s blurb with his tips. It took me 15 minutes. It was fabulous. One day I was listening to their podcast, and they had a guest, Michael Cooper. Coincidentally, I was reading his book about Facebook Ads, because someone in Brian D. Meeks’ Amazon Ads Facebook Group recommended it. I’m in his group because I read his Amazon Ads book, and he runs a Facebook group for his readers who want help with their ads. Funnily enough, it wasn’t that long ago he did a guest spot on Joanna Penn’s podcast, to talk about his book. Everyone knows everyone. I’m not suggesting you get to know people just to use them. But if you get to know them, even peripherally, (I tweet and blog about their books all the time; well I tweet and blog about any books I like all the time) then maybe one day when you cross paths, they’ll already have heard of you and will be more willing to help you out, by say, inviting you to be a guest on their podcast. Networking, letting relationships grow naturally, organically, takes a lot of time. Start before you’re desperate for publicity.
Those are my five reasons I’m not marketing right now. I’m writing books to have a decent backlist before I throw money at anything. When readers find me, I want them to ask, “Where has she been all my life?” not, “Oh. She only has one book out?” I’m learning how to market, where best to put money so I don’t waste it. As I do that, I’m getting to know the heavy-hitters in the indie publishing world. Even if you’re not so keen on getting to know them, you can at least study what they do in their careers, what makes them successful, so you can duplicate it.
How long will I “prepare” before I actually punch in my credit card number, or submit my book to a blogger?
It depends on how fast I can write.
Check with me next year.
I Googled “How many books does it take for an indie author to start their careers in 2017?” While I didn’t get a straight up answer, the Google spit out some interesting articles that you can read here and here.
Tell me what you think!
This makes so much sense and something I had not yet thought about. Other than networking and writing I have no plans to market my books past social media and word of mouth. I most certiantly won’t PAY to market my books until, like you’ve suggested here, I have a backlist of books to market. It’s true, you’re not just marketing one book, but all of them. A writer has to think about how to keep their readers once they hook them. Great post!
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I couldn’t agree more with this blog! I made a big mistake trying to market with my first book. I paid for Facebook, Goodreads and other ads with zero results. I refuse to pay a dime on my new book. Learned my lesson the first time. The best way is word of mouth and getting your name out there.
(Note: I did, however, run a free Kindle sale promotion on Reading Deals. Sold 32 books in one day! Requirements are at least 10 verified reviews on amazon with minimum 4 star average.)
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Great post! I’ve published 11 books at this point and I will say that I reached a momentum last year where I was consistently making a certain amount, whereas before it was just a few bucks here or there. The # seems to be increasing, though, and you made a good point about being a multi-genre author. The readers I attract might not like all of my books. It’s a tricky business and it’s a never ending path to figure out what works best for you and your books. It’s a fun journey, though. Overall, it’s been a enjoyable process.
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Hi, Sara! I’m glad you’re finding momentum! It is a tricky business, but one we can navigate by keeping our sense of humor, not losing the joy (as you said) and keeping consistency in mind like it seems you do by publishing regularly. Eleven books is a good number! Congratulations, even if it feels like you’ve just taken the first step! Thanks for reading and commenting!
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Thank you, Vania. Yes, sense of humour is so needed in this industry. Thank you for your kind words. 🙂
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