Can’t Hurry Love. Or Marketing.

like a caravan climbing a mountainSince I started the focused marketing of A Long, Hard Look, giving away copies in exchange for reviews and to get attention on Goodreads, the total results (over a the past 5 weeks) have been underwhelming. A handful (that means 5, at most) of sales, a few of which were to people I know. A few reviews, mostly from people who read my blog or newsletter.

Like I said, underwhelming. (Not that I don’t appreciate that folks who know me buy, read, and review, but that isn’t a result of all this marketing, it’s a result of our personal relationship.)

There are a million sales tactics, and hundreds of people out there pitching their “sell a million copies” process. If only I could find the magic potion, the secret formula.

Thing is, I already have it, and it’s no secret, nor is it magic.

It’s called persistence. Includes a sidecar of patience.

Yes, there are a few writers who’ve sold train cars full of books and now they’ll teach you how — for the low low price of whatever it is they’re charging.

Perky plucky Catherine Ryan Howard made this comment at her blog:

I have zero time for hyper specific “techniques” as recreating the success their creator enjoyed is impossible. Also having to hand over cash to discover them leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For example, John Locke sold millions of ebooks by what I would describe as incredibly odd and manipulative methods that no one else could realistically make work for them, and them sold truckloads more with a “How I Sold a Million E-books..” title. But how many purchasers of it sold a million copies of their titles? None. Therefore I’d much rather invest my time and energy in methods that have worked moderately well for the majority as opposed to something that’s worked astronomically well for one person or a handful of people. [emphasis mine]

Winning the lottery would eliminate the need for a job. Is buying lottery tickets a reasonable substitute for showing up for work every day?

I’m with Catherine: trying to duplicate the success of another person is like copying all the elements of “Like a Rolling Stone” and assuming you’ll become a rock icon, if you just do it right.

There are exceptions, of course, though they’re not really exceptions. Tim Grahl hasn’t sold millions of books. He worked his head to the bone for a year and sold 10,000 copies of his book Your First 1000 Copies and now he teaches others how to do it. What he teaches, though, isn’t a magic secret formula. It is the clear and simple process he used himself, which he’s already outlined in his book which you can buy for a few bucks. His online classes expand on the concepts and include specific wording and tools, but the essence of what he did is available free at his blog.

If someone offers to sell you magic beans, don’t assume they’ll grow a magical beanstalk and save the family farm. Someone teaching you a more efficient method of plowing fields and sowing seed? Worth checking into.

No farmer plants seeds today and goes out to harvest tomorrow. Or next week. Or even next month. Okay, maybe next month for radishes, baby onions and certain greens. But most gardens really start to produce after months of care.

Marketing my books is not a quick substitute for making a living with my web business or Best Beloved’s virtual assistant work (though I must say, it’s quite the benefit, being married to someone who does social media marketing for authors.)

Last year, we agreed that I’d spend this year writing fiction and see if it might lead to income.

Halfway through this year we realized that even if I published 4 books as planned this year, we wouldn’t have any real answers until next year. That’s okay. We’re not in a hurry. If another 15 months of writing like mad leads to belief that I can supplement our income, it’s worth knowing.

If I can’t, that’s worth knowing, too.

The only way to know is to try — and give it time to grow.

3 thoughts on “Can’t Hurry Love. Or Marketing.

  1. I like your analogy with gardening!

    …it also reminds me that since we had our first snow today, I really should pick up my baby carrots from my garden before they become frozen baby carrots!

    1. I love baby carrots. But not frozen.

      Something I’ve found most encouraging: voices I trust in the self-publishing arena are saying, loud and clear, that if we’re just getting started, we haven’t missed the boat. Done right, they say, a good writer who does the marketing can be making money in a few years.

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