Last week, I sent PMs to published authors on Mythic Scribes and posted a request on my blog. Today, I’m going over my takeaways from the results. Check out my blog tomorrow for my preliminary marketing plan.
On the importance of marketing:
Unless you already are a big name author, it is incumbent upon you, and you alone, to make yourself a success. Even if you have a publisher, they’re probably not going to do much more that send out review copies.
Being a professional writer in today’s environment means you need to know as much about marketing as you do about writing.
Unfortunately, I am not a marketing guy, and there do not seem to exist any easy strategies that are guaranteed to lead to success. All I can do is experiment. When I publish Power of the Mages, I intend to chronicle my results, with actual numbers, here on this blog.
Regarding specific marketing techniques:
Blog Tour – I can certainly see how getting on blogs help, but I don’t know that trying to shoehorn blogs into a certain day to build momentum is worth the effort. My theory is: get on as many blogs as you can, however you can, whenever you can.
Book Signing – I have a lot of questions about book signings as a self published author with POD books. Does this work? Do you buy a bunch of books in advance in the hopes of selling them?
Truthfully, until recently, my strategies didn’t consider hard copies of books except for the most minimal extent possible. I’ve had a couple of people tell me, however, that paper copies sale better than I would have expected.
If you’ve had experiences with this, please share. These same comments go for book fairs.
Advertising (where and how much?) – I think that most of us aren’t prepared to sink the kind of capital into our book as would be required for a truly national campaign. However, it seems reasonable to experiment with the small quantities of money that it takes to run on Adwords and Facebook.
From the results of the survey, it certainly sounds like most people do not even make their money back on the deal. My question then is: is it possible to do a big enough blitz to raise your book’s profile to the top ten in its category? If so, the extra momentum might make it worth it.
Adwords seemed to have come across as the best bet based on these authors. I’ve read elsewhere that advertising on Goodreads is cost effective. I’d also like to hear about it if anyone had any success or tried Craigslist.
Blogging – I feel more strongly every day that blogging is not worth the effort as far as time cost vs. benefit goes. It does make you feel that you’re doing something, though.
Twitter – I was gratified to find that the surveyed authors had so low an opinion of Twitter because I have no desire to try to learn how to use it.
Facebook – I think that the results of the survey indicate that Facebook was useful in communicating to your friends and family that you have a book out but that it wasn’t great at attracting new readers.
Search Engine Optimization – I have some hope of using SEO techniques on Amazon to draw readers to my book page. I don’t think this will result in my selling millions of books or anything, but I think that the time cost vs. benefit is probably okay.
Getting your book reviewed by book bloggers – The responses tell me two things: 1. This is a good thing to do. 2. This is a difficult thing to do. I’ve heard rates of 20-25% success in getting reviews. I think this data is old and that the success rate is now much lower.
Getting your book reviewed by Amazon top reviewers – I think an important source of potential reviewers are people who reviewed similar books. The top reviewers are inundated by requests. Someone who happened to post a review about a friend’s book may be flattered that you want them to do yours.
Short stories as promotional materials – I’ve heard it said that an email list is the most important marketing tool that you can develop. I have some plans to use a novelette to help develop that list. I’ll keep you posted in the coming months.
I read that a handful of self published authors make 75% of the money. From browsing forums, this certainly seems to be the case. Most people are barely going to make their money back and will never recoup a tiny portion of their time cost.
That being said, some people do make it. It’s not out of the question to sell 10,000 books in a year. The market is there. The readers are there. You just have to reach them.
I tend to oscillate between thinking that it’s hopeless and that it’s possible. We’ll see. I’ll post my actual sales numbers on this blog to give you a better idea.
On what you can do to increase your sales:
I think there are methods to improve your sales. Advertising and getting reviews on the right blogs seem to be the most surefire methods. Whether either succeeds on a cost to benefit basis is up for debate.
It seems true that sales feed sales. The more books you move, the more Amazon will help you move more books by making it more visible.
Is making a huge gamble and putting thousands of dollars into advertising the way to go? I don’t know, and I’m not willing to risk it until I have more books out than just the one.
Regarding self publishing versus traditional:
The traditionally published respondents gave me a lot to think about. I’m committed to going it alone for my first book, but I do like some of the advantages that publishers give. For my next series, I’m seriously considering at least making a couple of submissions.
A few closing thoughts:
The number one takeaway I got from the respondents was to not let marketing eat too much into production of your next book. Writing goals come first.
Have realistic expectations. Do not get discouraged as your books languish with next to no sales. Rarely does someone break out with a single book. Keep writing.
Have a marketing plan ready at your launch. Devote some money to advertising up front.