Before I throw in the towel on this blog, I figure I should try to see if I can come up with posts I can write about. If I can, then I can see sticking around.
Part of the struggle in coming up with posts is that there is no magic answer out there when it comes to marketing. A lot of people said what they want out of this blog is marketing advice. But the truth is, there is no surefire strategy that will work equally for everyone. I’m afraid there’s a lot of disappointment in store if people expect someone to come up with a marketing strategy that is guaranteed to work.
So maybe instead of trying to scramble around in an effort to find the impossible answer, I should focus instead on trends and issues we face as self-published authors, ways we can produce as professional a product as possible, and the emotional ups and downs inherent in this business. What I’ve discovered is that some marketing methods work awesome for some authors but fail for others. There are too many variables involved in the whole thing (like genre, personality type of the author, preferred social media use, goals with publishing, target audience).
In a nutshell, I think the best marketing technique is the one that the specific author is most comfortable with. Will there be guaranteed sales? No. If you’re selling well today, can you quit your day job and write full-time? Only if you have a huge emergency fund with some additional money set aside to cover your taxes. Sales fluctuate way too much to believe that what you’re making today is the same as what you’ll be making tomorrow. Plan for the bottom to drop out. Yes, sales can rise. You could end up selling better tomorrow than today, but why take your chances? I’d rather have a lot of extra money built up and find out I sold better than to have no money put aside and realize I can’t pay my bills.
I also don’t think you should be in this business unless you truly love to write stories. While there is a business side to publishing, the heart and soul of writing is based in the creative realm. Self-published authors wear both hats. If you don’t put your heart and soul into your stories, it’ll lack the emotional depth that is required to reach out and embrace your reader. Your reader wants an emotionally gauging story. Whether that emotional connection is in fear, edge of your seat nonstop action, love, sorrow, humor (and more), there has to be an emotional undercurrent that pulls the reader into the book. A book should make the reader forget they are reading. Ever watch a movie and get so wrapped up in it you forget you’re in the movie theater? I have, and that’s the kind of experience readers should have when they’re reading books. This is why people who don’t love writing are doomed. They don’t engage in storytelling. They just write words on a paper. The distinction is there, but it’s hard to explain. I can read five pages in a book and tell whether or not the author’s passion was in the book or not. People writing without the emotional component are poor storytellers. Before you can engage in the business of publishing a book, it’s important to tap into the storytelling craft. As trite as it sounds, the book will always be the most powerful marketing tool you got.
I started out with vanity publishing in 2002 and got into KDP and Smashwords in 2009. That’s what I’ve learned during that time. I’ve also learned there is no magic marketing technique. There’s also no set “formula” that will make your book resonate with a whole bunch of readers. Just because someone else wrote a popular type of book, it doesn’t mean your piggyback version off of it will work. Also, lose the sales pitch. You’re not doing yourself any favors in constantly bugging people about your book. People don’t need to be beat over the head to get that you have a book out. I say this in frustration since I get invited to Facebook events all the time from authors who then proceed to fill up my inbox for the next day or two with hourly posts about their launch party. At that time, I either decline to stop the emails from coming in or decide I’ll never buy their book or any other book they write, no matter how intriguing it sounds. Annoying people isn’t the way to get their interest. Just hang out and enjoy talking to people. Your blog and website are for talking about your books. Social media is for being social. Mention your book when it’s published, on sale, or in a giveaway but let it out there once and move on to other topics.