Results of My Marketing Survey for Published Authors

Last week, I sent PMs to published authors on Mythic Scribes and posted a request on my blog.  Before I get to the results, let me say a huge thank you to the respondents.  They took time out of their lives to try to help the rest of us.  Check out my blog tomorrow for my analysis of the responses and on Wednesday for my preliminary marketing plan. 

Now, on with the show:

When you published your novel, what did you do for your launch?   Did you have a marketing plan?

Eleven authors responded to my questions.  Two had some kind of plan.  Five became more active on social media.  Three did nothing more than told the people they knew.  One had a launch event at a festival.

Of the two with plans, one sent out press releases, posted flyers at local businesses, pursued book reviewers, and explored social media.  The other’s publisher sent out review copies, and the author advertised in a national, relevant magazine.

Which of the following have you tried?  For those you have tried, please rate your perception of the technique’s effectiveness on a scale of 1 – 10 (one being “didn’t work” and 10 being “awesome”).

Blog Tour – 8 (only one has tried it)

Book Signing – 6 (4,5,9)

Advertising (where and how much?) – 5(One author tried Adwords, Facebook, and Twitter.  Only Adwords resulted in any sales, and he rated it a 7.  Another rated Adwords as a 3.  Another author spend $3000 on a national magazine and rated the results a 10.  The final author who responded on this one rated giving out flyers a 4.) 

Blogging – 3.6 (1,2,2,2,5,6,7)

Twitter – 3 (2,2,4,4)

Facebook – 4.4 (1,3,3,4,5,7,8)

Search Engine Optimization – 1 (only one has tried it)

Getting your book reviewed by book bloggers – 4.5 (1,4,5,8 – Two authors stated how difficult it is to get reviews and a third said that no one would agree to do one.)

Getting your book reviewed by Amazon top reviewers – (none tried it)

Conventions/Book Fairs – 5.7 (1,7,9 – One author said it’s worth it but expensive.)

Short stories as promotional materials – 5.8 (3.5,8)

Describe the arc of your sales figures.  Did it start big and taper off?  Have you seen a steady increase?  Have you seen steady sales with spikes?

Most of the authors describe the following: A big spike followed by a leveling off with more spikes when something happens like a mention on a big site or a marketing push.  The remainder says that the books basically didn’t sale at all.

If you’ve seen spikes in your sales or anything that led to steady growth, to what do you attribute that growth?

Five authors report no spikes.  Two indicate growth and spikes by releasing new work.  Three say that advertising results in spikes and/or growth, though one states that the size of the spike is orders of magnitude lower than the push used to get it.  The final author attributes spikes to random occurrences.

Are you traditionally or self published?  If traditional, did you see any marketing advantage?  Please describe.

Eight of the respondents are self published. 

The three traditionally published authors list the following advantages: bookstores are more likely to stock your book, ability to attend events as an author where self published authors are not invited, proper editing process, reviews by library catalogues, and translations done by the publisher.

Do you promote other author works on your site in exchange for the same?  Have you solicited comment from established authors to advertise on your book cover or book website?  With what results?

Four authors simply said “no.”  Three post links on their blogs or Facebook pages.  The rest expressed concern over the practice of exchanges.

What advice, from a marketing standpoint, would you give fellow authors who are about to publish their work?

For this one, I’m just going to give you the responses word for word:

– It takes time, do not expect miracles. The promotion is time consuming and can be soul consuming, be careful it does not eat into your writing time and fun. However it is worth it but do not let it overtake you.

– Don’t.  Rather, don’t worry too much about it. For beginning authors (which I still very much am) the primary focus should be on writing more. We need to add to our body of work. Beyond that, try to get mention by book bloggers or other reviewers, get on podcasts and get otherwise involved in the community through your own blog and/or social media (I quite enjoy Twitter now that I’ve been using it awhile).

We must understand that it can be hard to get people to A) Hear about us and B) Want to use some of their precious time taking a chance on us. Furthermore, if we annoy people on Step A by marketing in aggravating ways, we hurt our chances at step B. Take it slow and keep writing, so that when you do manage – by chance or design – to hook a new reader, you have more and more to give them and keep them hooked. If you can offer enough quality material, they’ll go tell friends about it so they can share their enjoyment.

David Robison (Dreamhand on these forums, founder of the Roundtable Podcast) called this “a literary gravity.” When we are just one small rock flying through space, any attempt we make to get noticed is hampered by how small we are (one little book!). But once we’ve written three, or five, or ten novels? Then people start noticing our gravity themselves.
When just starting out, marketing should not be a high priority. Your efforts will be hampered simply because you don’t have enough out there. Wait until you have more to offer, then worry about spreading the word.

– If you can afford it, try to have a strong marketing plan in place to coincide with your release. Best case scenario is to break into the top list at Amazon (even if just for a few hours) so that your popularity can feed itself.

– Keep at it. It’s a tough job, and you aren’t going to get anywhere without working at it. And enjoy the small victories.

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty annoyed with the lack of information Amazon provides self-published authors. They certainly know whether a novel was purchased following a visit from a blog, a tweet, a Facebook, or anywhere else on the Internet. They should share, so we have a better idea what works and what doesn’t.

– Look at it for the long haul, unless you’re with one of the major houses, which will only get your books on the shelves for 6 or 8 weeks. With them, you’ll do a lot more prep work prior to release. I would say always be professional, in person, online, with all communications and contacts. The more works you have published, the easier it is to attract readers.

– Paid advertising seems to me to be most effective; of course, I haven’t tried any heavy marketing in the free areas, just announcements of the book and various milestones via social media.

– Know your target market and try to raise your own profile within their world. The extracurricular writing has been a great deal of hard work but looks like it’s about to start paying off.

Also, if you 100% believe in your ability – be fearless. If you don’t…just keep writing for fun until the day you suddenly realise you’ve improved out of sight and have a great idea for a new story.

– “Marketing will take a lot more time and effort than you probably think it will.”

– Advice: maybe marketing needs a wider variety of methods together, to multiply each other more.

– Be sincere. Just be yourself. That is what I do. I don’t like to be aggressive in marketing. But that doesn’t mean my way is the best way.

Be patient. That your books don’t get a lot of attention in the first weeks, doesn’t mean that it is a failure.

But maybe that is something that is true in the Netherlands. The competition in the UK and America is much bigger, so maybe there are different ‘rules’ there.

I think if you truly believe in what you are doing, you have a big chance to be successful. (But that also has a lot to do with how you define success.)

– Since I write books that are never going to be popular, the only advice I can give is to develop your craft *before* publishing, and edit, edit, edit. I’m not a marketer and generally ignore the most popular advice, most of which is ineffective anyway.

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