Tag Archives: book marketing

How to Sell Your Book, No Matter Who Published It (3)

Introduction, Part III

Your Online Friends and Followers Are Not Your Target Market

Fishing line icon in prohibition red circle, ban or stop sign, forbidden symbol. Vector illustration isolated on whiteIn future sections of this guide, I am going to talk to you about setting up a Twitter account, a Facebook page, an AuthorCentral page on Amazon, a Goodreads author profile, and other kinds of social media contact pages. I am also going to discuss the merits of establishing and / or maintaining a blog.

However, I do not want you to think of these platforms as ways to reach out to book buyers, because they are not. (Which is a good reason not to spend too much time on them.) Way back in 2013, I wrote a post entitled “Promoting Your Book on Twitter and Facebook is a Total Waste of Time.” My thinking on that subject has not changed. I cannot trace a single book sale to anything I ever did on Twitter, Facebook, or even this blog. I will talk more specifically about this in a future post.

In the meantime, I want to you to make a mindset change before you even start on your book promotion. Do not think of your real-life friends, or your Facebook friends, or your Twitter followers, as the people who are going to buy your books. Resolve that you are not going to waste your time or theirs by pitching your book to them. If you do, you will end up being very disappointed in your friends and aggravated with your social media contacts, because most of them are never going to take your bait. (There are always a few loyal and generous exceptions. Connie, Ruth, Chris and a few others: you know who you are). In general, you need to forget about  marketing to those in your immediate and ongoing / extended circles.

The way to do this is to imagine that you are standing at the top of a hill. All around you, in every direction, as far as you can see, are all the potential readers of your book in the world. There are kazillions of them, or at least many thousands. Closest to you are your friends, relatives, acquaintances, and the guy who just reposted your tweet about your cat. You know the names (or at least the social-media handles) of all of those whose faces you can see.

Resolve right now that beyond letting these people know that your book has been published (if they do not know already), you will ignore them when it comes to book promotion. You will never urge them, nag them or try to guilt them into buying anything you have for sale. The people you will target with your promotion plan are, instead, the ones beyond this circle, the ones whose faces you cannot see very clearly or at all, because they are too far away. These are the readers who comprise the market for your book.

Always keep this image in your mind when you are developing a book promotion strategy. It will do two things for you: 1) it will mean that you do not feel disappointed and petty when your friends don’t by your book because you will know you were not targeting them anyway, and 2) it will mean that you don’t worry about trying to gear your promotion scheme to people you know and end up conflicted by doubt over what they will think of you when they see it. Most likely, they won’t even notice it.

Besides, just think about how many friends you have in the real world and on the Internet. How many are there in total? A few hundred? Why would you try to flog so few people to death to get them to buy your book? Don’t you want to sell thousands? To do that, you need a bigger vision. To sell to thousands, you need to speak to thousands. So let’s do that.

* * * *

I am going to cover five major areas of book promotion in this series. They are as follows:

  • Let’s Get Visible (building your online presence)
  • Legitimizing Your Book (reviews, launches, etc.)
  • Free promotion
  • Paid advertising
  • Extensions / Cross-Selling

In the next post, we’ll actually get started!

* * * * *

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.

How to Sell Your Book, No Matter Who Published It (1)

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.“)

Odd One Out 14Since 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.

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*If you or your company does this, please let us know in the comments section.

How to sell your book!

You Wrote It? You Sell It!

Announcing my new series!

Ta Dah! 

I have been learning about promoting, marketing and selling books for more than thirty years. And I have learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about selling traditionally published books (I was editor in chief of a publishing company and have had four books published traditionally) and I’ve learned a lot about selling self-published books (I’ve published three books myself and helped several clients to publish theirs. More than 10,000 copies of my newest novel, Rita Just Wants to Be Thin are in the hands of readers, and that book has about 50 reviews on Amazon. [Happily, at the moment, quite a few of them are positive]). I know ebooks and I know print books. I know fiction and non-fiction.

And now I am writing a book about what I have learned. Whether you are published by a traditional publishing house – major or minor – or are publishing your own book, I have advice for you. Whether you are a well known writer or a neophyte, the tips I am going to offer will contribute to your bottom line.

I am not guaranteeing to turn you into a bestseller (although I can show you how to get onto best-seller lists for a day or two so you can call yourself one), but if you don’t increase your sales based on what is in my upcoming posts, I’ll eat this computer. Virtually. I promise.

You wrote it? You sell it! 

As if we have any choice: even if we’re published by traditional presses, they want us to sell our own books. And if we are self-published, we have no support network at all: we have to do it ourselves, or watch our precious words slide off into obscurity. We may not like it, but we have to do it.

But aside from the fact that we writers are mostly quiet, sometimes even shy individuals who hate making a fuss in public – especially about ourselves –and prefer to stay home where it’s quiet, why not sell our own books? No one knows them as well as we do.

You wrote it? You sell it!  is the title of the series. It will eventually turn into a book by the same name, but you can get the first draft free right here, as I create it. Some of the info I will be sharing with you,  you may have already read in earlier versions on The Militant Writer. But most of the posts are new. And the information is all organized in a new, more accessible way (What to do before you start to sell your book; Creating an online presence; Sales initiatives that cost no money; Sales initiatives that do cost money – what they cost, and whether they are worth it; How to get into bookstores and libraries; Cross-selling; What works and what does not. Etc etc etc. I am leaving no book-promotion stone unturned.)

If I know anything about my Militant Writer readers, you will also find valuable advice in the comments section as well as in the posts.

So stand by. If you don’t already subscribe to this blog, do it now –  look waay up to the top of the right-hand column, and you will see where you can sign up safely and securely – so you’ll get the first installment of the series, and every one after that, on the day it is published.

The first post will appear very early in 2017. In the mean time, stop worrying about promotion and go write.

Happy New Year to one and all!

 

Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time

"Facebook author pages (like this one of mine) are a waste of time" Mary W. WaltersWorse, it’s probably turning off many of your on-line friends.

After being told for several years by every guru in the business (most of them styled as “social media experts”) that as a writer I must focus my attention on self-promotion through social media, I now consider myself to have become a social media expert myself — at least when it comes to matters writerly.

And I am telling you that those other social-media experts (and the publishers that parrot them) are full of crap. When it comes to book promotion, your time is far better spent on other kinds of marketing activities, or even in writing your next novel, than it is being anywhere on social media.

For about five years I have read books, blog posts, articles and tweets on the subject of book marketing and networking, and I have Facebooked and Tweeted and LinkedIned until my smile, my whistle and my chains have been rattling and ready to fall off.  I have examined the situation closely, tracking who comes to my web pages and blogs from where, and who buys my books and when – and what happens to the buzz about other people’s books on social media sites.

And here’s the bottom line, my fellow writers: nobody goes on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn (or Tumblr or Reddit or even an Amazon forum) to read about your book or mine. They are especially uninterested in our novels. They might possibly be interested in a non-fiction book if they think that what it contains is going to help them somehow (change a tire or make a million dollars or find inner peace), but the creative stuff . . . ? Forget it.

I have only to look within myself to see what should have been obvious five years ago. I’m a writer and an inveterate reader and I never go on those sites to read about new books – in fact, I try to tune out social media messages that have anything to do with books. Such messages are usually boring, and they make me feel guilty because I know I’m wasting my time there, and that I should be working.

There are good reasons why Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a waste of time for novelists and other creative writers and if anyone had been using their brains they would have figured them out a long time ago. Here they are:

  • Rarely if ever since Gutenberg has anyone ever wanted to read a book because the author said he or she should read it.  (Most of us have also never been interested in reading a book just because the publisher told us to read it.) Social media do not alter that reality at all. What readers want to read are books that other people – independent people, whom we respect – tell us we’ll enjoy, not what the books’ authors insist we will enjoy;
  • Most book-reading folk (i.e., intelligent people) aren’t interested in advertising and promotional copy, or in watching writers pat themselves on the backs for winning awards or getting great reviews. They are interested in discussions and opinions about books. They are interested in two-way exchanges about literary matters – not in one-way communications.

Any Facebook group that is related to writing is as much of a waste of time when it comes to book promotion as is the rest of the site. Most writers don’t buy books from other writers, and those groups are choirs, to which we, their members, sing. Furthermore, Facebook “Pages” devoted to fiction writers don’t seem to do much good. (On a related note of abject honesty: if you are a writer with a blog about your writing, I am probably never ever going to read it. I barely read my own.)

So if you’re not appealing to me, and I’m not appealing to you (in a way that puts me in mind to buy your book, I mean: you do, of course, appeal to me in every other way), and both of us are writers and readers, what the hell are we doing on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter?

Well, we are not working on “self-promotion” as we like to think we are, and as our publishers tell us we are (they really believe it’s true. That’s how much most publishers know about book promotion).  What we are doing over there is wasting time – just like everyone else. I like to think of Facebook as the equivalent of the office water cooler, since writing and editing are such solitary activities, and so in a way my visiting there is healthy. I am not arguing with the “social” aspect of social media. In fact, I love it. Too much, most days. :)

Also, in my opinion (which is rarely humble, as regular readers will know), if all we are doing on Facebook is  self-promoting — which is what quite a few writers do – and we are never interesting or funny, we are not only not attracting readers, we are turning them away. I have hidden the posts of several widely published, bigshot authors who are my Facebook “friends” from my F/B news feed because I can’t stand listening to their self-congratulation any more. (As they may well have done with mine!)

And as far as Twitter and LinkedIn? The utter lack of interest in novels or writing-related posts on those sites is deafening. In reality, social-media interest in novelists is restricted to only the really major players. The Rowlings, Gaimans, Atwoods and Rushdies may attract attention for what they have to say (which is, please note, not normally related to their books), but nobody gives a damn what the rest of us think, about anything.

When I’m on social media sites, I tune out almost everything that has to do with books (aside from industry news and such lovely pages as the one maintained by the Paris Review), and if I am ever looking for a new book to buy or read, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Reddit are the last places in the universe I would ever think to go to find out what I might enjoy. (Maybe GoodReads, but maybe not even there. More likely a book reviewing site or a magazine or news publication.) The reason I’m on Facebook is not to locate reading material: I’m there to look at memes, make smart-ass jokes that nobody gets, diss members of the government, read some juicy gossip, find out how my friends are doing, and complain about the phone company. That’s why you’re there too: admit it.

The take-away from this? As writers, we should focus our promotional efforts on trying to get people to talk about our books (review them, read and recommend them, give them awards, take them to their book groups, write articles or blog posts about them) instead of trying to get people to buy them.