I’ll never understand marketing. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s this ever shifting, shapeless entity out there just beyond my grasp, taunting me, jeering when I try new things. It’s elusive. It’s time consuming. And it’s frustrating as hell.
In my quest to tame this beast, I’ve found a few little gems along the way. Don’t you love the learning curve?
1. Social networking is for just that … networking. First and foremost, networking is reaching out to others, not a numbers game. Sure, for a reader who doesn’t know you from Adam, high numbers let them know that you are loved, but unless you reach out in a real and genuine way you’ll only alienate those you want to attract. No one likes a Bob.
2. Who’s your platform for? –This is where many of us get lost. We sometimes forget the reason for creating a platform is to give potential readers a place to see a little of who we are, to sample our writing, and to get information on how to buy our book. Often we’ll start building a platform intending to do just that, but end up with one designed for a totally different demographic. So as your cranking out those followers, you have to ask yourself … who is actually following you? If it’s spammers and companies that want to sell you spatula’s from China, it’s probably not doing much good.
3. Be frugal when paying for marketing-I know of some indie writers that have spent so much on mass marketing they honestly are never going to recoup their money. “Hey, it’s an investment”, they say, but here’s the thing: if you invest $10,000 in a book that only yields $12.53 how is that helping? Just as panning scams and bogus banks scattered the wild west of the 1800′s, so are the marketing scammers flooding the new frontier of publishing. I personally think that the money you spend for marketing should be a percentage of the royalties received. If you are an indie author and haven’t done so, I’d suggest joining the Indie Book Collective.
4. Reach out to the right people– If you are writing an adult mystery, don’t contact a YA blogger to review your work. I know this sounds like common sense, but honestly you’d be surprised how many people mass email bloggers. In case you didn’t know, bloggers are an integral part to the change that’s happening to the publishing industry, and the big guys know it. One in five blogs on the internet today have to do with reading. Let me give you an example. A blogger recently asked me for a review book. I happily sent off a signed soft cover with a “thanks so much” letter. Even though she has the best of intentions, I’m not sure she’ll ever get to read it. Why? Because standard publishers are now sending her boxes of free books and ARC’s based on the number of followers she has. My point? Start with the new bloggers in your genre. Getting a good review on a blog with 60 followers is just as important as a site that has thousands. You may not get the sales results you’re looking for, but it gets you reviewed. And some of those sixty might tell their friends, and so on. If you’re shooting for the bloggers with 3000 followers whose “In My Mailbox” meme looks like a shipment to Barnes and Noble, chances are you’re wasting your time.
5. Don’t expect overnight success--There are some lightning strike successes, but the truth is building a platform and gaining an loyal audience takes years. So be patient and never stop writing.