Marketing: What The Hell?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2011 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

Marketing is a part of being an author. Most of you know I hate it. I don’t know how to do it, I’m not sure what’s effective, and to be honest, most of the time I’m just fluttering around like a fish out of water.

First, I’ll start by telling you what I do.

Twitter, Facebook, Book reviews, Goodreads. That’s it. Exiled has been out for 2 1/2 months now and those are the only areas I’ve experimented with so far. Has it helped? Yes…no…maybe only a little.

When I got into this whole indie publishing business, I prayed for good reviews. I thought “If I get some great reviews, my book will sell.” Since Exiled has been published, I’ve learned that isn’t the case.

Just on Amazon I have 20 reviews, 19 of them are 5-Stars, 1 is 4-Stars (Actually 4.5 but I’m not counting…).

On Goodreads, Exiled has been rated 32 times, with 25 reviews and an average rating of 4.81. That’s 26, 5-Stars and 6, 4-Stars (some of which are 4.5, but again, I’m not counting…).

I’m not experienced in this, but I’d say for having been out 2 1/2 months, and comparing to even some traditionally published books, that’s pretty amazing. If it’s not, I don’t want to hear about it, beacuse I’m amazed. Let me be amazed dammit!

I don’t know about the majority of my sales, but I do know the majority of those ratings/reviews have been generated by either my giving the book to reviewers, or sales generated through Twitter.

I spent countless nights laying awake in bed, hoping and wishing people would love my book. So far, the response has been so overwhelming, somedays I don’t believe it. Then I look at my sales figures, and I’m disappointed.

My book has amazing reviews. So far, everyone has either loved it, or thoroughly enjoyed it, so why isn’t my book selling regularly? Not that I expect to become rich overnight, but I did expect it to increase as the word spread. With each book review, sales spike by only a few books (1 – 3) per day, for one or two days. Then it settles back to normal, wait…did I say normal? I meant sporadic (at best). So the reviews defintiely help. I’m not sure about Facebook and Goodreads, but I know Twitter has helped in sales, without it, I’d guess I’d have sold very little.

So what is my point? I have no point, that is the point. I’ve really no idea what works/doesn’t work when it comes to marketing. I do know, that having reviewers review Exiled has helped, sometimes in a big way, other times not so much. Giveaways, contests, interviews, it all helps a little.

Does posting adds and quotes from my book a few times a day on Twitter help? Yes. Sometimes it annoys people, but I don’t care. I constantly get people asking me on Twitter if the paperback is available, or if it’s available on Nook yet. People don’t want to check back to my blog to find out. Or they forget when I posted it. If I’ve posted it a dozen times over a few weeks, and they don’t know, that means there is a group of people that aren’t seeing my posts. Twitter feeds move really fast, it doesn’t take more than a minute or two to get lost in the jumble. So yes, it’s annoying to some if they see it constantly, but to be honest, it’s helped in a huge way.

Other than that, I’m still trying to figure it out. Is there a magical outlet to get a book into readers hands? Great reviews aren’t enough. Posting on social networks isn’t enough. So what is? I imagine it’s a ton of different things, building up over a long enough timeline. That, and of course, a little bit of luck.

    11 Comments

  1. This stuff totally mystifies me. There are a ton of great books that get almost no sales. And there are a tone of very so-so ones that are bestsellers. I do not get it! But your book kicks ass, and I'm sure it will find its audience!

  2. I feel your pain. I have the same results. I work my butt off on all those sites and it generates probably the most up to 4 books that day. I don't do a thing, I might get 1 sale. I've sold more to friends and co-workers (paperback version) than ebooks so far. Sigh! Wish there was a magic formula. I don't expect to get much money for my first book but I have like one review for 2 months of work. Ouch. It's slow.

  3. K.C. – Thanks! I'm sure it will too. I'm a little impatient…okay a lot, but it's not even been 3 months. It takes a long time to build an audience, but I had to do a “little” venting about the marketing process. Oh how I loathe thee.

    Alexia – I hear that! I did learn that July and August are the slowest months of the year for book sales, which makes a lot of sense. It will also help when we – as authors – have more than one book out. The more shelves – physical and digital – that we occupy, the easier we are for readers to find. But it doesn't help the furstration either.

    Have you tried sending out review copies to indie bloggers? There are a ton out there that support the indie group. If you check out my Exiled Reviews page, it links to most of their websites. They are all really busy, so sometimes it takes a while to get the book read and reviewed, but it defintely helps.

    If there is a magical formula, I WILL find it…maybe…okay I'll try really hard.

  4. I'm right there with you. Even though my book hasn't been out as long. Right now I'm waiting for the peopel who said they'd review it to read it and post the reviews. That is nerve wracking. I want to constantly email them and ask “Did you read it yet?? Where's the review? Gimmegimmegimme.”

    One bit of advice I've gotten is put out another book. Sorry, but my next book isn't ready. I guess, we'll have to settle with being patient (boo) and keep trying different things.

  5. First of all, I love marketing. I used to be a marketing manager. Want to sell more of your book? Write more books. I am dead serious.

    Any of the super popular self published–I am against the word indie–writers did not get that way buy writing one book. They got that way by writing many books.

    Your book sells will feed off eachother. When you release your next book, you will already have a fanbase–they will buy your book and you wont have to work as hard to get them to do it. Then new people will buy your new book, and if they like it they will buy your first as well.

    On a personal level, I am skeptical of a million five star reviews. I worry that the extended family has been brought out–but having several books with favorable reviews demonstrates staying power.

    Hang in there.

  6. AJ – As far as the marketing strategy of having more books, that makes perfect sense. Nobody makes it off one creative piece.

    On the personal note of 5-Star reviews, I'm sure it happens, but I don't approve of an author doing that. I'm too prideful and stubborn to allow it myself. I have to know that the positive feedback I'm getting is from people enjoying my book, not people who know me personally. I want to take pride in being able to say I earned those reviews.

    Although, I hope the positive feedback I have received wouldn't hinder potential readers who may share that outlook. I certainly don't want to hope for bad reviews to balance the scales.

  7. ugh, sent too early. I appreciate the feedback AJ.

    I'm sure the reason I dislike marketing so much, is because I'm not educated or experienced in it. I hated editing when I started writing too, but after working with a professional editor and writing more, I find it far more enjoyable now as my craft develops.

  8. Maybe you could get other Indie authors to read your book and give a shout out for you on their twitter/blogs, etc.?

  9. It's tough, because sometimes I get into the mind state of “don't bother with marketing, just release more books and sales will come.”

    I actually think that's true, but it's tough because you start to feel so stale on the internet, compared to people getting a lot of reviews and tweeting every five minutes. It's like you don't feel you are working as hard as them, when in reality you are, you're just working to put out a new book instead. But when you put heavy time into promotion, sure you get immediate attention (which feels good), but then the next day you're right back to square one.

    Sorry for the long comment, but that's what I deal with. You know?

  10. Taylor – I get that feeling to, but if we don't market, how will new readers find us? I can't leave that much to chance for something I'm working so hard on to get into the hands of many.

    As far as the internet going stale. I understand your thougths on that. Sometimes you just need to find a groove that works for you, and stick with it.

    When I'm on Twitter, I'm getting no work done on my book, but I am potentially selling books. When I'm working on my book, I'm not doing any marketing, so sales are slower, but I'm making progress in the next story, so it's a catch 22. Finding the right balance is difficult.

    Don't ask me how to find it though, I'm still trying to figure that out LOL.

  11. Just to clarify, all I meant by going stale on the internet is it's a personal thing. I mean, when I'm not putting any marketing efforts in, I feel my web presence is foundering, while others flourish. I didn't mean that I get bored being online.

    But yeah, your point is good. I can't expect anyone to find out about me if I don't market. And though some people advocate that it is a waste of time to market and you should just focus on putting new books out, I think you might be right, about the importance of finding a middle ground.

    Oh and regarding your comment about how when you promote hard on Twitter, you feel its effective, even if you do annoy a handful of people. That was enlightening. So thanks!

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