While the draft of my newest book The Terminarch Plot is in the hands of beta readers, I thought I would focus today’s blog post on some advice I would give an indie novelist who is considering marketing their book.
I’m sure you’ve gone to Twitter and seen those shameless folks tweeting away about their books, but the truth is that this is really not the way to market your book to readers. You also have to get over the idea that you are going to be a best-seller. This is unrealistic in this world of millions of indie publishers. You have to do what I call the “anti-sell” and focus all of your effort into the quality of the book you produce.
Here are the tips!
- Writing Promotion, Not Self-Promotion – So you’ve written a book. So what? If the book is garbage it won’t get far. The book has to be excellent, has to be a page turner, has to be as free of errors as possible. This requires good editing, and if you are not an editor, then pay someone to edit it and then take their advice! It also takes good writing. There are plenty of “writers” out there who fancy themselves as novelists but write total drivel, stuff that wouldn’t be worth reading even at a dentist’s office whilst waiting for the inevitable root canal. The good book will sell itself and won’t require one tweet or ad to make it a success. Its following will grow like mint, taking over most of your flower bed until it chokes the life out of everything. Yet people like mint. If the book is good, nobody will care about the writer’s credentials.
- Bad Reviews are Good Reviews – I’ve seen several “writers” who get a bad review and then take to Facebook or Twitter to bash the reviewer, saying things like “they just didn’t get it” or “they just don’t know me”. A bad review can work in your favor, and it is important that the writer understand the wisdom of why this is so. The fact is that if you respond with negative comments about a reviewer this does nothing but make the author look foolish and immature. This is how you will be seen, so take your lumps and understand that not everyone will like your book. Bad reviews are markers for how you can improve your writing. Take them as challenges to do better not affronts to your personal character. I have never responded negatively to a bad review. I always respond by thanking them for reading my book and taking the time to review it. I also make some comment such as: “I will endeavor to do better on the next book, and appreciate your input!”
- Beware of Overexposure – This flies in the face of what most bloggers will tell you about marketing, but I would say that I have had more success just writing this blog about writing, tweeting about the things that interest me as a writer, engaging with other writers on Twitter and generally not spamming Twitter with millions of tweets about how the world will implode if people don’t buy my book. The point is that I engage people. I reach out to people. I chat with them, comment on their posts, then put my book out there and let them know about it once and then leave it. I’ll do pretty well because I’m confident in the quality of the work. People will read it and then they will tell their friends. It’s a grass roots campaign that works well enough for me. I am perfectly happy with the sales I do, and the people who read my books love the product I provide.
- Lower Your Expectations – Let’s face it. Indie publishers are publishing books at the rate of over 300,000 books a year. That is a raucous sea of writing. How will you be heard in all that noise? The hard fact is that you may never be heard at all. Tons of writers spend millions publicizing their books only to sell very few copies. I had great success with This Broken Earth, but terrible success with Come Apart. I still sell copies of The Transgression Box, but lately sales have become an empty room full of chirping crickets. It is highly important that the modern indie writer be ready to face the difficult reality that they may not sell a single copy (except to their mother or their close friends). If you keep your expectations low, then when you sell a few more copies than you thought then it will be a huge surprise. An indie novelist who sells over 100 copies is considered a success by all standards.
- Bookstores are Dying – Don’t get me wrong. Book stores are staffed by some great people, and often I need a person and not a computer to help me find a new book to read. However, many indie writers I talk to are chomping at the bit to get their book on the shelves of a Barnes and Noble or a… oh yeah… there aren’t many of those brick-and-mortar stores left, are there? In this digital age the corner book store is where books, unfortunately, go to die (or go to the 70% off rack). The life of a good book today begins online. If you can get your book in front of several good readers (even though 58% of people will never read another book after high school) you can get that grass roots thing going and possibly more readers will read your book. It could be a domino effect, but the only way this will happen (again) is the book has to be GOOD!
I hope these tips helped you make some good decisions about the realities of marketing your new novel. Get out there and promote, but do it wisely and don’t waste your money or time on things that don’t work. DO THE RESEARCH!