Saturday, 22 February 2014

How not to promote and market

After finishing my latest novella, and submitting it, a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd easily get on with the next project. But after an injury at the gym and getting a monster of a cold, that just ain't happened.

Instead, I thought I'd get my head around the weird and wonderful world of marketing my books.

It has not gone well. Here are some things I've learnt in the past few days:
  • I should have been more prepared to promote my two year old book two years ago
  • I should have had more reviews ready to go on the day of publication than I currently have right now
  • Even when you're prepared to spend money, most promotion sites only cater to free and $0.99 ebooks
  • I shouldn't rely on my 148 Facebook fans to actually see the Facebook updates I put out, because Facebook now only thinks about itself
  • Other people do this much better than me, almost instinctively
  • I need several more books published than I currently have (which doesn't play havoc with my writers block in the slightest)
  • So many links to the biggest, bestest promotion site ever are broken
  • Blog posts published on a Saturday evening probably won't get read

My only consolation is that I've finally figured out all the things I've been doing wrong, but I've figured it out too late to help my current books. Hopefully, I'll have it sussed by the time my next one comes along.

What have you learnt, that you wish you'd known at the beginning?


66 comments:

  1. It's not too late! When your next book comes out, you will know what to do right. As it sells, that will in turn increase the sales of your older books. The more books you have, the more books you'll sell.
    Yeah, you do have to plan in advance when marketing a book.
    And I'm reading this on a late Saturday afternoon - I wonder what that means...?

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    1. That's my thought exactly - all my tentative attempts now will pay off for the next... fingers crossed. I'm glad I've got Saturday afternoon company, it means we're cool :-)

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  2. Hmmm. I expected this post to just be a link to my blog...

    I don't even have anything out yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a disaster when it comes to marketing. It's good that you're learning what works and what doesn't. Like Alex said, you'll know what to do better for next time. Improving is always a good thing.

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    1. It's a bit like having babies - you never have any idea what you're doing on the first one :-) As a really basic rule of thumb, read over my list again closer to the time, and don't worry about it too much. Publishing books is fun!

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  3. Sorry about your injury and cold, Annalisa. Welcome to the club - I was so busy teaching myself how to put my work on Amazon and actually writing I really believed I was doing well! The promoting and marketing is the toughest, and unfortunately we would think that logically these come later. It's all so frustrating.
    I have learned something new today, and being a novice, perhaps everyone else knows this, but apparently the seven "keywords" asked for at Amazon to describe your book does not apply only to words. It is possible to use sentences or several words between the commas separating the seven. Now, this is a whole new ball game!
    By the way - I think your new photo is 10,000,000 times better than the old one. I must try to improve mine. You're putting me to shame!

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    1. Yes, I read that about the Amazon keywords, but I haven't got round to checking it out - in fact, I thought I might have misinterpreted it. I'm glad you like my new photo, it was scary putting it up.

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  4. Looks like I don't have a Saturday night life ;)
    I too was (and remain!) totally a novice at marketing, but screw it...we're better than we used to be and it is NEVER too late. Keep promoting the old, but keep writing new stuff. The new works will bring attention to the old.
    You are uber talented. You know I love your style and totally think you're tops!!

    That whole getting reviews thing...so hard!! Do we have to beg? LOL

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    1. Aw thank you :-D

      As for reviews - yes, I think begging is the only way. Or bribing with chocolate. I haven't done that yet, but it might work!

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  5. I'm nowhere near this point—and wouldn't even know where to begin. :)

    Hope you're having a nice weekend.

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    1. Begin early, that's my overriding advice! Have a good weekend too :-)

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  6. You've done fine and shall continue to figure it out. The publishing world is cold and cruel. I was a marketing major and have no clue - or I shall just flat out say I'm freakin' lazy. You are not. Take another gulp of cold medicine, and you'll see the vision to the right path. I'm looking to you as a role model for success. No pressure. Big Saturday night in Big D, Texas. I'm going to swig some cold medicine too.

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    1. Lol, no pressure felt at all there, Joanne :-/ There are so many options, it's hard to know which one is right for you. Taking the plunge and figuring it out as you go along is the best option, I think. And exactly what I'm doing now...

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  7. I don't have a book published... yet.
    However, I'm not good at selling/marketing... I just don't have that mentality. And where does a person begin when it comes to marketing...?
    Uh-oh, that spells trouble for me when the moment arrives...
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Begin small, if you're unsure. And, unlike me at the start, be prepared to spend money. It doesn't have to be a lot - I spent $6 on Friday - but trying to do it completely alone is not the answer! And, always have chocolate to hand :-)

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  8. Sorry you're not feeling well.

    I'm no good at promotion. That's what I've learned! I also know that reaching lots of people probably doesn't help unless those people are readers of the genre you've written.

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    1. Yes, that's the further complication, getting to the right readers!

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  9. I think the whole writing, publishing, promoting game is a massive learning curve. If I'd known what it entailed before I started writing seriously would I have carried on? The answer is 'Yes' because I think it has made me a more fulfilled person and I have found a path to follow. I don't have first hand experience of the whole marketing side of things (yet!) but it scares me. I'm sure a dollop of luck figures in it somewhere but I guess that's not very helpful! Keep going, we believe in you and your writing.

    Hope you are feeling a bit better today.

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    1. Don't be scared, but it's probably a good idea to read how NOT to do it, rather than those blogs which tell you HOW to do it, just because the ones that tell you how they did it and sold a million are usually the ones with endless amounts of money OR they worked in publishing OR their mother/father/aunt/son works in publishing OR they wrote 50 Shades. Or, I might be just a little bit bitter at the moment :-)

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  10. This is all so depressing. People keep pushing me to self-publish, but I want an agent! I would happily go along with their publicity ideas but I have none myself, apart from overloading Facebook with pleas to buy my book. For me, FB is for keeping in contact with friends and family. Oh dear.

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    1. Agents sell the books, Lizy, they don't tend to market. And even the people published by the Big 6 tend to be in charge of their own publicity, unless they are on the best selling lists (and if you're on the best seller lists, people are knocking on your door rather than the other way around). Publishing is a lot different to how it used to be, even in the 20 years I've been trying to do it - some are good like the ease of self-publishing, others are bad. Take a breath and dive in to whichever path you choose, but be prepared.

      Oh dear, that sounds so much more negative than I was expecting, sorry :-/

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  11. I hope your gym injury heals quickly and that you feel better soon!!

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    1. Thank you Keith - the injury is recovered, but I'm being super careful with the weights I lift. The cold is getting worse and worse - I could barely breathe a minute ago, trying to make scrambled egg!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Annalisa. It's a comfort (albeit a cold one) that they echo my own experience. One of the problems we have is that there are so many of us trying to do the same thing. To rise above the general roar of people calling, "Pick me," you almost have to try too hard. As a buyer, if anyone pushes their wares too much then I have a natural tendency to say, "No!" Because of this, I've recently began to do less direct marketing and prefer to just maintain a presence in the world of social media. Hopefully, this softly softly approach will eventually start to pay off (not via Facebook though) - only time will tell.

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    1. You're right it's such a balancing act. You mostly see it on Twitter - and I've unfollowed people for constant promotion before now. I follow someone because I want to be entertained, not to have their single book pushed at me every single hour of the day. Fingers crossed it works for you, Chris :-)

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  13. I can't think of anything I've learned that I wish I'd known before. Mainly because I still feel like I know nothing in this department.
    Good luck!

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    1. Lol, I'm sure that's not true - you appear to be doing everything right, although I know it doesn't always feel like that from the inside!

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  14. The problem is writers want to write and they don't tend to think about marketing. As I've already read in your comments, it's not too late. It's an ongoing situation. Do you listen to podcasts at all? There are some great podcasts that you can listen to while doing other things, that discuss all the issues you talk about. If you want to know what I listen to, just let me know x

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    1. I'm not good with podcasts, because I can't multi task - I'd get to the end and realise I hadn't heard a word. I'd love to have the links though, then I can just sit with a cuppa and listen :-)

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  15. I'm just starting out in this field and trying to learn all I can. It looks daunting! ~Miriam Drori

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    1. I think it's less daunting if you read about it early on, and note what other people do!

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  16. Marketing is confusing, and changes all the time. It's hard to keep up with what works and what doesn't!

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    1. I think the key is to be the first. Once other people all start doing 'what works' it loses it's potency. Which doesn't make it harder at all :-)

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  17. Hi Annalisa, I'm sorry you were ill! Hope you will be feeling better soon. I think I approached marketing for my first book well - ramped up ahead, bought a blog tour etc. With the second book, I was just so happy to have written, and honestly, I feel a bit weary. I did some promo and got some reviews, and now it's like I'm just pooped. It felt different second time - with the first book I was very tied to Christmas. I've found some reviewers and those are in the works, and I have a list to work through. I thought that this time instead of doing an all-up-front blitz, I'd space things out over time. Then this fall perhaps a full blitz with both books. I don't think it's too late to promote a book that's out - after all, it will be brand new to those you reach now. And I think authors are making the mistake of thinking it's all about volume, because frankly, much of what I'm seeing in the crank-them-out-quickly arena ... well, it shows. I don't see that as being what you are about -your work is very fine quality. I agree about FB - I don't think half my friends see half my posts any more - it's lost its potency as a vehicle for promotion. With twitter, I'm finding it a better place to find people who might review or host on a blog than as a vehicle for saying, "check out my book." Don't be discouraged, as I said in my blog once, I think you are going to be wicked famous. (That's Boston talk - when we say "wicked" famous, we mean Really Really famous. xo

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    1. I'm blushing with all the compliments, thank you Melissa :-)

      I think your marketing for A Christmas Village was brilliant - the book seeped into my consciousness, and I couldn't think about the book without thinking about you. As such, I think the second book will market itself - especially with the age group you're writing for. They'll be desperate for more - in fact, I know they are, because I read the comments on your blog!!

      PS. REALLY famous? Oooohh!

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    2. Thanks Annalisa - here's wishing much writerly success to us both.

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  18. I'm sorry you had the double whammy of an injury and nasty cold. Hope you're back to 100% soon. I echo everything you've written about marketing, I'm still trying to figure it out and have been in a totally discouraged mood lately. On the bright side I know what is a waste of money and not worth doing now, so I am not spending money on things that bring no return at all.

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    1. It's easy to get discouraged, isn't it? At least we're all here together, ready to listen and advise!

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    2. It is easy.... so let's keep each other's spirits up! I'm so glad to have found you both - such lovely people and fine writers. :)

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  19. I have not published anything, I have a lot to learn. The only marketing I know is retail sales and marketing. I was reading recently on Lee McKenzie's blog @ The Write Game a very good article on this subject (Feb 10th). She also contributes to another blog, She Writes. There is a section there on Marketing and Promotion. If you can't find and want the links I can forward to you in an email.

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  20. Hi Annalisa,

    Gym injury and a rubbish cold. What a lousy combo. Sorry to read that. What I can do is continue to promote you via "Farcebook" and also reply to your latest PM. Oops :)

    Gary

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    1. It's not the best combination, but I've been taking lots of cold remedies and it's helping :-) Thanks for sharing on Facebook!

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  21. Sorry it isn't going so well, but this is a helpful post. I'm not there yet, but I know that learning this marketing dealy will be an uphill battle. Good luck to you as you continue!

    The Warrior Muse

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    1. It's not a detailed analysis, but if it helps someone else avoid the (simple) mistakes I made, it's worth it. Thank you!

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  22. Sorry that you were sick and injured; I hope you feel better soon. And sorry about your struggles with promotion; I wish I could give you advice but I don't know much about it. I know what you mean about wishing I'd known certain things in the beginning; I feel that way all the time in graduate school.

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    1. Time travel would be awesome for going back and trying again, wouldn't it?

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  23. marketing anything can be scary! lots of research and advice!

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    1. My dream - even when I was very young - was to be a reclusive writer... just tucked away in an attic, churning out words that would magically find themselves at the top of the bestseller lists :-)

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  24. It's never too late. The path is before you, and your marketing genius will shine. The absolute worst thing you can do is get discouraged. Instead, keep moving forward. Look at the tree you can touch, not the mountain you have to climb.

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    1. Lol, I'm hoping for some kind of genius soon! I like the idea of the tree rather than the mountain - I'll keep that in mind, thank you :-)

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  25. This promotion thing is really hard. I'm terrible at it. But I don't think it's ever too late. Your book will always be there, and it will always be able to gain readers. :)

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    1. That's true, the book isn't going anywhere!

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  26. After spending time in corporate America doing sales and marketing, I can tell you everyone is just shooting in the dark at moving targets. The big disadvantage of the small places (like independent authors) is they generally have pretty limited resources. The advantage is they are less risk-adverse and can turn on a dime in comparison to the big companies. I also learned that most marketing "experts" know very little.

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    1. Your last sentence is the most reassuring thing I've read in the past couple of weeks - thank you!!

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  27. I think if i knew how hard it is at the beginning, I might not have started. I'm glad I did, though. I'm still a slacker with the review thing. I let them build organically.

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    1. After a free promotion I did, I got a lot of downloads but no reviews at all!

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  28. Marketing is torture. I never seem to know what I'm doing or if it's working at all. I agree with you that the more books you have out there the better. Now if only I could find the time to put out more books!

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    1. You wrote an awesome series - it feels like your marketing takes care of itself :-)

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  29. If I had known how hard it was to write and publish a book five years ago, I probably wouldn't have ever started writing. So it's probably good I didn't know.

    Just thinking about all the things I have left to learn before I publish my first book makes me shudder!

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    1. Take it one step at a time, Ken, that's all the advice I have.

      I started writing when I was a kid. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about 12. It was all very different then. I don't think anyone could have told me anything which would have changed my mind - I have the only quality you need to be a writer, stubbornness :-)

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  30. I guess what's surprised me is having more than one book. You see books in stores by different authors, and many only write the one, but to really be successful as an indie writer you almost have to have several titles and keep long tail marketing in mind. That never crossed my mind in the beginning either.

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    1. That's true, the rules do seem to be different for indie writers. Unfortunately I'm such a slow writer, I'm never going to keep up with other writers. I'm still learning to accept that.

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  31. I've learned that you keep learning. Things I thought would work didn't and some books sell without any promo. It's all a bit of a mystery sometimes! And it is never too late to promote your books - it's an ongoing process. Silly mistakes I made in the early days - I got so excited with the first 3 titles I indie pubbed that I made all 3 free at the same time! Duh! Got all excited at the number of downloads and then realised that the idea is you make one free in the hope that readers will like it and BUY the other titles. Oh dear....never mind, that's a mistake I won't make again :)

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    1. Oh dear. Yes, the free book thing is all about strategy, but I can totally understand the excitement - and you're not the first person who will have done that :-)

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  32. wow, these are all good things to know. Thank you for sharing them. i admire that you're published. I've been working toward that, and now...am having a change of heart. I don't think I really have the drive or desire to stick with it. Of course, I'm really feeling burned out today. :-)

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    1. I'm a writer, I've always been a writer and always will be. I am NOT a marketer, I've never wanted to be, but these days, the two are intertwined. If you want to publish badly enough, you'll eventually figure out how to market. If you just want to write, then that's great as well. I hope you feel less burned out - that plays havoc with everything, doesn't it?

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Please comment - I love a good chat!