Almost every author I talk to wishes someone else would sell their books for them. The few exceptions are those who, by nature or training, enjoy marketing their books. They’ve learned enough to have a plan and to execute it consistently, persistently.
Even my wife‘s clients, who pay her large sums for social media marketing for their books, engage fully in the process. Those who don’t quickly become frustrated because she isn’t selling their books well enough, not realizing that’s not how it works (despite having that clearly explained at the outset.)
Here’s the good news: if you hate marketing and you don’t want to sell your books, you don’t have to spend another second on marketing.
As writers, I hope you’re getting some of your marketing savvy from The Story of Telling. Not only is Bernadette brilliant, it’s the most writerly marketing description I know.
In her latest post she writes that “the customers you keep are not just choosing you—you are also choosing them. The fact that you make this choice means you get to do your best work and not the watered down version for people who might care some day.”
I co-authored a book with Rick Wilson called Hits or Niches. The diagram below outlines our shared perspective on why marketing should always aim at a niche and never aim at becoming a hit.
Every person who signs up for any of my newsletters gets a personal welcome note. Sometimes they turn into great conversations, like this one with Carrie Aulenbacher about making the most of a newsletter.
As I anxiously await the printed proof of what will likely be my only children’s book (back to the mysteries!) I think about how easy it is to get distracted from the One True Path (I know; ain’t no such thing; work with me here.)
What could I do to help you stay focused or to keep moving? I’d like to write about that.
Interesting you mention the One True Path because the feedback I’ve been getting lately points to my being pulled in a bunch of different directions and not sticking to ONE path.
So, you’ve just met a romance author who is trying to improve her own newsletter, is passionate about marketing, loves being creative, is excited about writing business articles for Fridge Magazine, was just in the Wall Street Journal last month on a non-author related article -and- who is up to her elbows in a day job with a newsletter and marketing of its own!
With a lot of irons in the fire, I want to glean expert knowledge on how to follow so many passions while not making my author newsletter unattractive.
Do I eliminate one of the passions so as to not dilute myself?
Or add another fork in the road? Another lane to my highway?
We love lists. We love step-by-step instructions. We love knowing exactly the right moment to do precisely the right thing so it all comes out right.
2 + 2 = 4, every single time.
Mix the right amounts of flour, sugar, egg, milk, and whatnot and put it in the oven at this temperature for that long, and it’s a cake, every single time. (Okay, maybe not every single time, but almost.)
Authors are people, and as people, we want checklists and step-by-step instructions, too.
Since 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.
A conversation with Ed Teja often turns educational. I wrote something about “marketing” and Ed responded very much like this:
There are numerous discussions, blogs, courses and (of course) books on things writers can do to sell their work—both better and at all. They are comprehensive, exhausting and often contradictory. Partly the problem is that we confuse the activities that make writers more visible and their books desirable purchases. So, after hearing various comments from writers online, I thought it appropriate to help clarify what are becoming muddy waters.
Writers are supposed to be wordsmiths, so let’s start with some definitions.
Marketing activities are things we do to sell books.
Promotional activities are things to help with discovery of a product (yes, even a book.)
Publicity is work done to gain mind share…to ensure readers are aware of and think about the writer—the person.
We tend to blur these together, resulting in a great deal of confusion. They are quite different. Note that you can squish a bit of this or that from one category to another. I won’t quibble over specifics. The important thing is that an effective business plan must address all three aspects. Although they overlap, they do different things.
Over 200 people have entered to win the paperback copy of A Long, Hard Look in the Goodreads giveaway. That’s 209 people who’d never heard of the book, but now they have. (Since I have copies on hand, I’ll even make it an autographed copy.)
During the sign-up process, they’re offered a checkbox which says “Put this on my ‘to read’ list” which is checked by default. It looks like out of the 209 who’ve signed up, about 90 left the box checked. Whether this is because they missed it, or wanted it, there’s no telling. I’m not sure why those 100+ people want the book but don’t want it on their ‘to read’ list. I can’t imagine anyone thinking they’ll make money winning free books and reselling them. It’s quite the mystery.
But here it is, in case you’d like to join the teeming hordes.
My Goodreads giveaway goes live on Sunday, October 19th. Many of my readers use Friday’s newsletter as a trigger to catch up on posts, so they may not read this until Friday or Saturday; thus the Sunday start date.
I also used some statistical analysis to add more countries. Intuition said my fans were mostly in the US, Canada, England, and Australia. 72% of my readers are in the US. If I add Canada that bumps up to over 80%, but adding England and Australia makes it 90% of all the visitors to this blog in the past year.