Selling You, Selling Me! Where do we start?
Book Marketing! Call it what you will! Authors now have to learn the basics of PR (public relations). Strange words those, are they not. So how does PR work when it comes to selling books?
If you’re a famous person (celebrity) then you’re laughing, literally. Celebrities employ PR companies to sell them and to sell their products (off-shoots of celebrity status). These PR gurus sell the whole celebrity dream to adoring fans. It’s their job, it’s their mark of professionalism, and the best PRs are always one step ahead of those trailing in their wake!
A lot of authors have always gone the way of local radio slot here, a local TV interview there, and have sought a mention or two within local book review pages of county magazines and newspapers (UK). A few brave authors have sought publicity via national newspapers, mags and TV, but those slots have dwindled over the past couple of decades. Those national radio/TVslots have been given over to celebrities. Say no more!
In the wacky world of published books, fiction books, editors and literary agents alike are now facing crisis after crisis. How has this happened? Good question. What happens when one buries one’s head in the sand in hope that whatever will pass by unnoticed and not affect the status quo? Well, the Internet came along and with it e-books and you know what, publishers laughed, and publishers ridiculed the very idea of e-books.
They said, “Oh really, funny-ha-ha, what fool is going to read an electronic book?”
And here we are, e-books are big business. And yes, Indie/small publishers, the forward-thinking ones jumped in with both feet back in the early nineties and embraced the idea of electronic books and they are, the early birds, ahead of the game and will remain so.
“No No NO,” said the big publishers come the twenty first century, “we can learn from them and turn their success to our advantage. We have the clout, the money, and the big-named authors.”
Then came Amazon. “Whoa. What’s this,” said the big publishers. “This is unfair advantage, the little chaps are in with a chance to thwart our World domination.” But, a few of the big publishers thought, Ha, ha, we can use this to our advantage, too.
Like hell they can. They make mistakes left, right and centre. They set up author/reader forums to entice readers and usually the forums are flooded with aspiring authors. These same big publishers tell authors the best way to know what excites their editors is to purchase as many of their books as possible. Which means, read their books but don’t bother sending them yours! These same big publishers talk authors into handing over novels to be published as e-books in new and exciting e-book lines, of course, with meagre royalty return. They wildly exaggerate on promises that if your e-book sells well, the mother company (trad house) may look more favourably upon your next submission to them. They publish thousands of backlist novels and publish them as e-books, no overheads, no running costs and usually overpriced for in-house monetary gain. They even resort, in some cases, to subsidiary vanity publishing. We all know what that is. And if you think VP is the domain of small publishing houses, think again, the big boys are at it, too.
SO! How do we, as small cheese, lure hundreds and thousands of book-reading mice to our books? Good question. Do I have the answer? Probably not! I do know, however, that one can over do blog tours and drive bloggers away. I know that glowing book reviews on Amazon are mostly ignored and bad reviews are taken notice of: see my blog post re How is Your book doing on Amazon?
However. I do know that we as authors have to create a brand image. How to do that is the leading question.
a) Do blog tours work?
b) Does helping other authors work?
c) Does seeking publicity via Twitter, Facebook etc., work?
d) Does the act of joining blogfests to up followers in hope of book sales, work?
Did any of the above help sales of your books? I don’t know. You tell me!
Take a) I haven’t done a blog tour. I’m convinced more than one or two outlying blog visits do more harm than good, for both author and blog hosts. My belief on this issue stems from over-saturation of same thing, rather like a needling TV advert that pops up so often you’re tempted to zap the remote to blank the screen. Do I want to be noted for this? No thanks.
Take b) I’ve enjoyed helping other authors by purchasing their books and posting reviews on my blog and, at Amazon. Now I’ve learned people don’t bother reading reviews. Hmm. There seems little point plugging for reciprocal reviews of my books
Take c) I think Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are places for procrastination, posting tripe, making fools of our selves whilst trying to flog our wares, and basically a waste of time. I’d rather be writing next novel. Fans expect output!!
Take d) re blog followers, yes you’ll get a few extra book sales with followers. But don’t ever think sales of books will equate to number of followers. If you want sales to soar put your face where it counts. Put your face in reader forums, talk to readers and gain fans. Treat author forums as places for exchanging experiences and gaining likeminded writer friends, but always, always look beyond inner circles of writers, because out there in reader-land is where your real audience is. Go find readers, the people who love the genre you write, and your books will roll off the bookshelves!!!
Am I doing the latter? Sure I am. I’m book marketing savvy. My romantic historical novellas are available on Kindle and are selling extremely well with barely any reviews, no blog tours, mere advertising on my own blogs, and book trailers on Youtube and Amazon. I’m flirting with readers, and having fun with fellow authors. And, now here's the thing, I'm writing instead of wasting time on Twitter, Facebook etc. I'm getting books to my public!
Ha ha, forgot to say: every chance you get put a link to your blog/s and post urls to book trailers, they are an excellent tool for catching the eye and imagination of readers.
See my book trailers: The Highwayman's Mistress & Her Favoured Captain. Keep your book trailers short, choose music appropriate to story, and keep it simple: avoid bells and whistles re fancy effects, especially for romance novels.