Not a day goes by when I don’t receive a dozen+ invites (I call them enticements) to ‘come and play’ as a self-published author with various book distributors who cater to self-publishers. All such business outfits have a regular list of ‘free-to-download’ booklets, compiled by well-known business gurus, and best-selling authors and marketing experts and so on, on marketing and selling of your books.
The latest one is from IngramSpark. Doesn’t say anything I haven’t heard a thousand times. Yet I know that regardless of how often I heard the words “marketing strategies” I will always look at the next ‘expert’s’ advice and download their free booklet that will help me sell a hundred books a day or more…yeah, right. Carla King’s booklet is one such gem. I never heard of her but her booklet is nicely compiled.
Everything in it makes sense, and I don’t know a self-pubber who hasn’t done much of what she states needs to be done when marketing one’s books. So what’s the problem?
Well, for one thing, I’ve been at it 18 months and in that time learned that nothing other than SUSTAINED EFFORT AT MARKETING AND PROMO is going to see you realize at least some sales. And I mean sustained DAILY – on a daily basis, doing all those things the booklet states should be done…all of them, over and over.
I came to a conclusion that I need a booklet that will tell me the following things:
- How to expand the existing 24-hour day into 36-hours without going after celestial dynamics with a hammer
- How to re-program human biology such that the current organic shell will only need 1-hour of sleep
- How to hire a chauffeur, cook, housekeeper, personal secretary and a gardener, on a non-existent budget
- How to pay a mortgage without holding down a regular day-job
and dozens of other silly things that ruin an otherwise perfectly productive writing day…or night.
I realize that marketing booklets are written with everyone in mind; meaning there is something for everyone to take away but after I read such a marketing guide, I invariably feel…overwhelmed and even depressed. Marketing is a dark jungle that’s so easy to get lost in, it’s frightening. I know I should just delete such marketing emails that are chock-full of good advice or even better, un-subscribe, but the same mentality sets in that keeps people buying lottery tickets—hope springs eternal; and if you can balloon that hope with own marketing effort, well, it grows so large it might float you away.
Bottom line, define what you can afford for a monthly promo and then spend one horrendously exhausting weekend searching this list (http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites) to compile no more than 10 places to promo per any given month and then go to it. Surf the list, check each and every one, read their website stats and pitches and check the pricing. Yeah, the old ‘money-speaks’ adage still holds, meaning the sites that charge $50-$100 per one-day promo will deliver some results, but don’t get trapped by those, unless you can really, really afford them.
Try 10 sites you pick, and go a month ahead (most sites won’t have date you want that’s just a few days ahead) and plan a promo for at least 3-4 days per any given week. Pick your best book, or the one that fits the site’s criteria and book your promo. Then track the results. That’s how you learn what works, what doesn’t, what’s waste of money and which one of your books performs well…or not.
If you are like most indie authors, you will make less $1,000 per year in sales. Take that $80 or so a month you get and pump it back into promotion. Then write another book. To me that’s time much better spent than trolling social sites, or lingering on LinkedIn or visiting forums (do writers in general have or want to gab on forums? I sure don’t) or building websites (you should have one good website optimized for all the devices out there and keep it clean) or even blogging. Most of us would have time for so-called passive marketing, but who can afford $2,500+ to shell out for one title to be listed in a catalog?
Marketing advice should be taken with a grain of salt – mostly because it’s written with the same enticing, gold-fever pitch as any get-rich quick scheme. I need to remind myself when I go for those free downloads: Reader Beware, spend no more than 5 minutes reading and then purge it. If you take away something that doesn’t add to your already tall heap of things to do, great, if not – that’s worth a sigh of relief.