(I’m just a writer. There are oodles of us. We have different styles, different values and lots of different opinions. I’m not an expert. There is no one true way. There is simply how I do it and how you do it. These installments are not meant to be pronouncements from on high about the only way to do this. There are many ways to do this. This is mine)
There are authors who believe all you need to do is write a great book and nothing else – that promotion is totally unnecessary. I am not one of them.
In fact, I believe quite strongly that writing a great book is only 65% of selling books to readers. First of all, on any given day your book will be on a shelf with forty other books bearing a general resemblance to yours. Romance, most especially, has a lot of competition for shelf space. So you have to give readers a reason to pick your book up instead of or in addition to one of those others.
Now, they’re not going to know the book is the greatest book EVAR written without some sort of information telling them that. There are very few authors who have such a presence in the larger world that people simply know their books are out. (and those authors worked for years and years to get there). The rest of us need help, LOL. Word of mouth is great, better than most other kinds of promotion, IMO. But it takes effort to garner word of mouth and that usually comes via marketing. As in, people seeing ads or reviews or hearing others talk about the book.
Certainly I have readers who will pick my stuff up when new books come out. I was lucky going into this NY gig that I had a base from my ebooks. But I built that base and it’s taken me many years and a lot of effort to do so. Yes, I give them a product they enjoy (hopefully, LOL). I hope there are people who see my name on a spine and grab the book because of that. But I need the people who don’t know my name to pick my books up.
It’s easy to panic about promotion. There are a lot of things to do and many of them are costly. Many of them are ineffective too. So you spend all this time looking for what does work or you just throw money at stuff because everyone else does and it’s not effective.
First of all, there is a place between spending a bazillion dollars and nothing at all. You pick some things and you try them and you toss aside those things that don’t work and you continue to try new things as you can afford them. But you get an advance for a reason and part of that money SHOULD be put aside for promotion of that title. (For your ebooks, you’ll need to save the money as you go along before your release and build on your backlist to try more things as you progress)
I try to choose one new thing per book or three new things a year. Sometimes these things work, sometimes they don’t. More importantly, sometimes these things work for some authors and some books and not for others. You try things over time, you try things depending on the genre or the title or the time of year. You try things depending on the medium. For instance: I don’t generally take out ads in RT for my ebook titles unless they’re group ads or they’re going to print. This is for several reasons – the demographic isn’t one who chooses ebooks over print, they favor print and I’ve noted this over time though I do believe more and more readers do try electronic books than they did when I first started out. But the overall name recognition is good, these are self selected readers looking for romance books to read. You can’t get much better than that. So a group ad is far less expensive and I still get the review.
Second of all (and this is related to the point above) – Promotion and marketing are not only about that one title. This is something people miss but it’s a really important point. Exposure of your name takes time and you’re not selling just that book, you’re selling yourself as an author. You’re selling past and future books. Think in big picture terms as well as just for this specific title.
Here are things I DON’T think work: This is in my experience, other authors have had different results. All this should be taken with a grain!
Essentially, being a pushy, rude person will not sell your books. I know people think they have to promo, promo, promo but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your manners or your dignity at home.
Next Sunday, things that I’ve found to be effective. Authors and readers, please feel free to chime in with things you’ve found ineffective or things you especially love.