Introduction, Part I
Like It or Not, You Are Probably Your Own Best Book Promoter
We’d all love to find someone who knows everything there is to know about book promotion and also happens to love our books – preferably even more than we do. Unfortunately, not even publishers offer that kind of service to most of their authors any more, if they ever did: their promotions departments get solidly behind a few books and authors every season, and the rest fall through the cracks.
On the other hand, the Internet is overrun with individuals and companies that want to charge us money to sell our books. They all claim to be experts in social media and every other form of book promotion known to humankind, and if we will just pay them [insert sliding scale] they will tweet and plug and splash and hype the daylights out of our books for [insert number of days or weeks], mostly on Twitter and Facebook. (See my post entitled “Promoting Your Book on Twitter and Facebook is a Waste of Time.“)
Since most writers know nothing about book promotion and the very words “social media” strike fear into their hearts, such online offers are tempting. If you are so tempted, I urge you to resist. The very nature of these book promotion companies is a “one size fits all” approach. How many of them are offering to actually read your book, and saying that they will promote it only if they really, really love it? None that I’ve seen.* And since none of their services are custom-tailored, but are instead intended for the masses, how can they possibly sell your book?
I am amazed that people offer promotion services to authors without any intention whatsoever of actually reading their books. I am almost as surprised that people take them up on such offers. Unless the marketing company not only has some massive, unique experience with online sales that demonstrates impressive results for books like yours, and/or you are doing a blast of some sort and are simply using the company to get the word out, paying them money to do what you can do yourself makes little sense.
Many thousands of readers have downloaded my books for free or have purchased them, thanks to my initiatives alone. You can trust me when I say that anything book promotions outlets and promotions departments can do for your book, you can do better. You know your book more intimately than anyone else ever will. And while all of us wish that someone with a strong background in book promotion who has read our book and loves it would appear out of nowhere and offer their services to us, that isn’t going to happen. Fortunately, doing it ourselves is not that difficult or painful: we just have to suck it up and do it.
I’m going to help you by demystifying the process as I walk you through my strategies step by step. The most important thing you need to do first, in order to make my suggestions succeed for you, is to accept – on a very basic level – that in this new world of writing and publishing, no matter whether your book is a Simon & Schuster release or is coming out on Smashwords thanks to your own efforts, book marketing and promotion is part of your job. Unless your name is already famous for some other reason, or you have connections that most of us don’t have, or you are unusually lucky, the chances of your book being discovered by anyone beyond your immediate circle are less than miniscule. Even “luck” usually needs a nudge from us.
Throughout this series, I encourage you to share your own experiences and knowledge about book promotion through the comments section below. If your comment isn’t posted immediately, be patient. I review them first, to avoid spammers, and (believe it or not) I’m not always online.
*If you or your company does this, please let us know in the comments section.
very helpful Mary.
Marjorie Stradinger Stradinger & Stradinger PR, ADV. & MKTG firstname.lastname@example.org
Very true re: you are your own best advocate. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us.
Actually reading my book is my touchstone for these marketers. So far all have failed the test. Even their emails back show they have not done the absolute minimum: read and answer my email!
I’m looking forward to your posts. I have the additional problem of zero energy, so finding a GOOD marketing firm would be a godsend.
But I’m not stupid enough or desperate enough to go for what I KNOW won’t work for my mainstream literary contemporary love story – which I believe has huge potential, if only someone who reads it were a marketer – or a marketer who knows what he is doing would read it.
I don’t say that lightly: I have the requisite author ego, but I have also done my homework. The book is designed as a ‘big book.’ It is edited to within an inch of its life. It is designed to appeal to men AND women (I love my older male readers who have no idea why they like it so much – the reviews are great). And it has a plot and real characters, which not all literary books have.
Meanwhile, I’m writing the other two books of the trilogy, and doing what I can in promotion.
But there is no point in writing such books, and then settling for bad marketing.
Any avenue of book promotion is a gamble – just like a writing career. Some things may work and others don’t. I feel that, given the current technology-based environment, promoting one’s book on various social media platforms wouldn’t hurt. Most any kind of media exposure is good, although each situation is different. The rise of self-publishing may have put the power of the written word back into the hands of writers (where it should be anyway), instead of publishers and editors. But it’s also created a glut of books on the market. Just like there’s no guarantee that a particular book will be successful; there’s no guarantee that a particular marketing campaign will be successful.
After the initial surge of friends and family book sales I think I now sell more books as a Uber driver. At the tender age of 57 people often ask me what I did before Uber. This leads into my story of owning my own business, then onto my fateful indictment and eventual prison term, and then finally the writing of my book. I have a captive audience for up to an hour sometimes. It is often exhausting to repeat the story over and over but I feel like I’m giving a message to people, especially younger people.
Word of mouth is the best way to sell books.