I’m slowly working on marketing my first book. I don’t have much time or money as I’d like. I’m already feeling a lot of negative emotions about that because I know it’s the reason I’m not seeing any sales or reviews yet and why my sales rank on Amazon has been slowly tanking over the last three weeks.
Yesterday, I received an email from one of the websites I’ve joined entitled New Author? Here’s Some Sound Advice. It gave a list of why debut authors fail. Most of the stuff, I had already seen or heard before. Still, since the author was a publicist, I wanted read their take on the ideas.
The reasons are:
- Poorly designed or stock cover art
- Unedited, under edited or unprofessionally edited manuscript
- Inadequate book marketing budget
- Insignificant blog and website presence for author and title
- Absence of platform and clear audience for the material
The first two I don’t have to worry about. Yes, I’m using two piece of stock art for my cover, but I have combined them in such a way, they look like a horse standing outside on a starry night. Between me and my publisher, there are few, if any, really obvious mistakes, so the editing is taken care of. In the published book, there is someone’s name starting three paragraphs in a row, something I tried to avoid because I hate repetitive phrasing, but that’s the only major thing I’ve found, so far. I’m sure as read my book a number of times, I’ll find other things I could have done better. But will the average reader notice them? Unless they are major, cringe-inducing typos, probably not.
The last two, I’m working on. Though I’m far from the perfect daily updater of this blog, at least I’m hitting once a week now, instead of one every month or so. My main series site should have launched the day Spirit was released, but, at the time, I was still debating about the content. I’ve since gotten some suggestions, so hopefully in the next few weeks, the site will finally be unveiled.
I laughed at the part of the article that said find “a web designer who both imaginative and good at taking direction while exhibiting a proficiency in English, design, WordPress, SEO, and business.” I’m all those things, but I’m also like the shoemaker who doesn’t have time to make shoes for their kids. I need to pay my bills, so I tend work on other people’s sites before my own and I’m afraid if I hired another developer, I’d be their worst client because of my experience.
It’s the “inadequate book marketing budget” and the recommendation of 2.5 to 12 thousand dollars that ripped me to the core, handed me my heart, and said “Here you fool, you have no chance. You were an idiot for even trying.”
That was my fear talking, not my common sense. I had already made contact with a publicist, who wanted $1,600 a month and I said no thanks. I don’t have that kind of pocket change. So that does make my book any less worthy than the next? No. It just means I have to do different things within the limited budget I have. They may not be effective as the ones used by the people who can spend the money, but they again, they maybe. Despite all the statistics, predictions, and trends, marketing isn’t a perfect science. Look at all the movies with their big budgets, famous names, and backing of major studios that have flopped over the years.
The tactic the article used was something known as “fear-based” marketing and we are going to see a lot more of as the political season heats up. The strategy is an effective because it targets people’s emotions instead of their logic. Both logic and emotion can achieve a conclusion, it just a matter of the time it takes. “Fear-based” marketing, like anything else that uses fear to control, relies on the strength of the emotion to override logic. Then, once that happens, the guilt that comes from not staying the course of the choice that is made.
People have all different kinds of fears. My two biggest ones are feeling inadequate and incompetent are rooted in everything I have had to overcome to seem normal. When someone is in a position of authority over me or presents themselves as an expert states a standard and I can’t meet it, I feel like crap. Now, sometimes, I’ll keep feeling that way and slowly work things out in my head on my own, losing days of effective time in the process. This time, because I’ve been working on getting involved with various groups for support and to promote my book, I decided to reach out to one of them and cut the cycle short.
I was both honored and humbled by the discussion that my post started. Some members gave great advice like reaching out to book bloggers for reviews. Others could identify with my struggle and shared their perspective on the matter. People discovered one another and where they were, so new acquaintanceships were formed. One person even thanked me for posting the question and then the women who respond for the insight and encouragement that was provided. There was a lot said and still being said. While I’ve skimmed most every post, I’m going to have to go back and read each one, just so I don’t miss any good information.
Writing is a lonely process because only authors know what they want to say and how they want to say it. Storytelling leaves a writer emotionally vulnerable because they have to connect with the reader on that level in order for their prose to make sense and be interesting. Besides the actual translation of ideas into words, though, an author doesn’t have to do things alone. There are plenty of people out there offering various services from editing to promotion. Countless groups, both on and off line, that are design to support and encourage writers, as well as provide a place for inspiration and criticism. The key is for the author to pick and choose what they need and then leave the rest.
Sure, finding the right support and services is not always as black and white as making a simple choice of who to seek out, since writing affects the writer on so many different levels. The writer has to be comfortable with who they want to trust. At the same time, though, new things have to be tried and experienced, so the writer can become a better person and their work a stronger statement of who they are. Writing is not a sprint of creating a work and being done, it’s a marathon of developing a craft.
Writers succeed because of the audience they build around who they are and what they are doing. Some can pay for short cuts to that success, others can’t. So what are those of us with a limited budget supposed to do? Just keep plugging along and remembering that, we have more chance of being found if we have more work to be discovered. To that end, I already have several books in various stages of completion. So maybe I won’t worry about marketing the first book as much as finishing the second one and seeing what happens then.