Wandering about the weird and wonderful world of book promotions I have come to a large rocky impasse. I can’t circumvent it, as shark infested, fast-flowing waters course around either side. It is a vertiginous cliff, a giant slab of rock, worn smooth by so many reaching hands. Footholds are rare, only faint traces of routes others once climbed. To make matters worse, the face is bedecked with a slippery moss, repelling all but the most tenacious efforts to advance.
You guessed it. It’s a half-baked analogy of my efforts at self-marketing. I recently read a blog entry from 2015 which resonated strongly, and has helped crystallise some of my disparate thoughts. Thank you Delilah.
Here’s the bare-naked, shameless truth since publication.
- 60 eBooks given away for free
- 15 paperbacks given away for free
- Endless hours on Facebook etc. etc.
- 5 eBooks sold. Two to my son’s friends, one to a man in the pub, one to a nice St John’s ambulance lady at a fete, and one to the son of an acquaintance online.
- 1 paperback sold to a distant relative of my wife
- 3 reviews – all five stars.
I published my book six months ago, having loved every minute of writing it. I sent it off to a dozen literary agents. All replied with rejections like, ‘I am unsure how I could represent this book in such a conservative market – thanks, but no thanks’. I couldn’t be arsed sending it off again. Not because I have an especially fragile ego, rather, I did not want to waste anymore time. Self-promotion seemed an attractive option. I am ever grateful I live in a time of POD. Marketing was from a standing start, having barely ever looked at Facebook, or twitter since their creation. And never having blogged, ‘grammed, pinned or reddit’ed. Even my phone was basic.
I did not have a clue. I did not write in a ‘genre’, think about my customer base, send out ARC’s, do a launch, etc. etc. I simply posted the book, set up a blog, and joined the throng.
Of course, it was an abject marketing failure (by some measures). Seems like everywhere I look is crammed with people trying to sell their wares, known as a ‘saturated market’. I have no interest in marketing my goods, and certainly no money to furnish it. I want to write, and hope others (any others!) will like what I create. More importantly, I want to enjoy what I am doing and refuse to slip into the persona of ‘writer struggling to make ends meet’. I am many things, among them, someone who enjoys writing. An audience is nice, but it’s absence does not preclude the act. My experience is positive, because it allows me to consider what I am doing and how I want the booky part of my life to progress.
So, I am going to focus on the things I like. Here are my radical ideas. I am going to –
- ditch the mountain of Facebook groups, keeping it to a couple, where I can interact in a more meaningful way
- cut back on the wide array of social media platforms
- enter some fun competitions – the non and least exploitative ones
- focus on my blog
- focus on writing my next book
Perhaps more radically, I am going to begin reviewing some books. I am no professional reviewer. My opinions are those of someone who has written a novel and knows what he likes. I want to help hard-up writers in the same sorry sales basket as myself. I know you are out there and have written excellent books. I have a five star review from Readers’ Favorite, and the NY Literary Magazine said my book was, ahem, ‘noteworthy’. OK, I paid them, but they didn’t have to say it. I know from my experience, there is good stuff out there that needs some tender affection.
Now here is the really radical part. I shall be asking for suggestions, pitches perhaps, for the kinds of books I like to read – a list. If I am attracted to it, I shall buy the eBook, read it, and write a review on my blog and whichever platform the book is on – a verified sale. If you have written it, and I read it, you deserve to be paid. Hell, eBooks are cheaper than the price of a pint. Yes! How’s that for a revolutionary idea! The pen is surely mightier than the pointy thing. Watch this space (not literally).
All images courtesy of Creative Commons – Thanks Guys.