Five per cent of publishing success is in the writing of the book while the other ninety five per cent is taken up with marketing it. With tens of thousands of new books being produced each month with internet publishers, it’s very easy for a new author, and even a well-established one, to get buried under what is now becoming the bottomless virtual slush pile of e-Books. Very few new books are an overnight success, the probability calculated at one million to one, and the precious works of many new writers will never see the light of day.
Most authors are not entrepreneurs and, when writing a book, rarely give a thought to the journey ahead of them in marketing it. For the majority of us, there is no easy path to success. It should be true that, if a product is good enough, it will market itself; this belief, however, is hopelessly naive. Even traditional publishers require their authors to be pro-active in marketing their books through social and traditional media and it apparently takes a new author at least eight months from publication to acquire an effective audience. Many never will.
Of course, with any new product, quality is key to success. Good writing and good design should be the minimum starting point when building a sales platform. Even before ‘The End’ is written, authors should not sit back and congratulate themselves for being so clever. The real work begins with self-promotion. This means pulling in a healthy following on Twitter and Facebook and joining a number of reader/author sites like Goodreads. When the book is published, then it’s time to find those nice people who are willing to review your novel and promote it for the price of a free copy.
I’ve read and heard mixed reports on whether paying a blogger or promotion site for their services actually helps increase sales. They tend to use the Twitter, blogging and Facebook platforms to inundate the social network sites with information on how good a book or author is. The trouble is that a lot of readers (the target market) will see this effort as tantamount to spam. Also, the higher the number of followers per ID on the likes of Twitter, the more people will miss the tweets.
I am relatively new and green to social networking but, for the past few weeks, have been working like a dog on promotion. I now have over 1,500 followers on Twitter but not too many on Facebook, as I tend to regard the latter as a personal message board. This is probably a mistake and I’ll have to change my tactics if I want to reap the benefits of this obviously powerful marketing tool.
Good reviewers are few and far between. Most of them are so inundated with review requests that they are forced to close their lists for long periods of time. Many of them will not review self-published authors nor even authors of small independent publishers. I have been fortunate enough to find a few very good people who are committed to supporting authors through their sheer love of reading and are willing to give up their time and effort to be part of the publishing process. One in particular approached me to ask if I would be prepared to give away a book to mark her book review blog’s first six months of success: http://sunmountainreviews.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/six-month-blogoversary-giveaway. Of course, I was delighted to do so. The book is now out with at least six independent reviewers who don’t know me and I can only hope they’ll like the book and rate it favourably.
I’ve had a number of author interviews and book promos on targeted promotional sites like Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7244296.Sara_Bain), Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/interview/IvyMoonPress), BookGoodies (http://bookgoodies.com/?s=sara+bain), humanmade (http://www.humanmade.net/sara-bain), The Reading Room (http://www.thereadingroom.com/books/details/the-sleeping-warrior-sara-bain/8029173) and Awesomegang (http://awesomegang.com/sleeping-warrior-sara-bain/) as well as a few more on blogs, eg Reading Renee’s blog: http://www.readingreneereviews.com/2013/08/the-sleeping-warrior-by-sara-bain.html?zx=f7e3f47efe20d543. Most of these great people I have found on Goodreads, which is an amazing place on the internet that brings authors and readers together. Another networking site for readers is Riffle which, at the moment, is in beta version but looks as though it is probably going to be quite big – although, I haven’t had the time to sit down and decipher how it works yet.
I’ve also bugged a lot of writer friends to help promote my book through their blogs (eg, Bill Kirton: http://bill-kirton.co.uk/?p=1324) and a few more are scheduled across the internet over the next few months. In turn, I have started up an author interview part of this blog which not only reciprocates the generosity of my fellow authors but also serves to widen my audience.
I’m still working on it and probably will be for the next eight months at least. I have to aim to receive and host as many independent reviews, author interviews and guest blogs as possible and, once the printed copies have been made and delivered, will have to work hard on traditional methods of promotion like book launches, press releases and Uncle Tom Cobbly and All …
Such a lot of work for one little book but, as they say, ‘no pain, no gain’.