I don’t know how to market my books.
Seems like it should be straightforward – you find websites or blogs, or do it on social media, right? I figured out how to publish to Amazon, read about other publishing avenues and selected Lulu.com for other vendors like Barnes & Noble and GooglePlay, wrote ten books, (am working on number eleven), compiled one series into an anthology, have done research on all sorts of cool stuff like vegetation in Morocco to swords, and you might think that’s the hard work… but it’s not.
Figuring out how to market is. According to their guidelines, Amazon doesn’t want to advertise explicit stuff and has basically restricted advertising on all my books – how other authors with sometimes MUCH more explicit or disturbing stuff get around that I don’t know but I had someone in the indie sphere tell me that exceptions are made for authors who bring in money; I have no idea if it’s true or if there’s something else going on and no way to find out. Keywords are a mysterious thing on Amazon as well, and you can find a lot of opinions on what to do with no real idea as to whether what the person is suggesting culminates in actual results.
Book giveaways used to be something that potentially exposed me to more readers, but Goodreads now charges over $100 for a single giveaway! The sum total of their work is they read over and approve your submission for a giveaway; it should cost no more than $50, yet here we are. As a result I haven’t done a giveaway in a while because I can’t seem to find a good alternative and the number of new readers I got on Goodreads per giveaway wasn’t high enough to make it a good ROI for that cost.
I’ve done advertisements on various larger blog sites (like Uncaged Books), I’ve joined RWA (Romance Writers of America), I’ve done blog tours through several different blog sites, and I am moderately active on Twitter.
I shouldn’t complain – I have had far more success than most authors – the problem is I don’t know WHY. Why did I sell over 150 copies of my first book in one day in Australia only two weeks after it was released? (I ended up selling several hundred books that month.) If I at least had an inkling how that happened I could tailor my efforts.
It’s frustrating and Authorland can be dirty and underhanded. I know about Cockygate (where an author tried to trademark the word cocky and harassed other authors who had previously used it), of authors who DO exchange free stuff for five-star reviews, of writers who have been damaged by fake 1-star reviews, of authors who used sockpuppets to get on a Goodreads Group reading list and made over ten thousand dollars in one month (they were found out before that payment was made); I have read about secretive groups of high-ranking authors who collude in promoting certain genres in order to generate sales for their fellow members, of bookstuffing to get more sales, authors who put hyperlinks in the beginning of their books that send you to the last page, increasing their Kindle Unlimited page count, cliques that pop up, authors that slam readers, readers who slam authors, and on and on…
I just want people to see my book and if they like the summary/details, they can download it. One of my books is even free and I’ll soon make the first book of my fantasy series free too. My goal, at least, seems pretty straightforward.
There is a great deal of ‘noise’ in the system; by that I mean there is so much junk you have to wade through that it takes effort to find an author/book that is really what you are looking for. There is an incredible amount of money in books, so much so that people sometimes lie, cheat or demean ‘competitors’ (why? there are so many books a person can read!) and booksellers will create an opaque system to maximize a perceived advantage; I want to maintain my integrity while navigating a system where you see all sorts of BS around you and wonder how anyone will find you.
Lately I’ve been thinking of trying to submit a book for a review from a large(r) and respected organization, like the Portland Book review or IndieReader, to try something different. With a limited ‘marketing budget’, choosing where to put the money is very difficult; this is one advantage that a traditional publisher has over an Indie – they have not only the know how and connexions, but also money they can put into an advertising campaign to make an unknown author practically a household name before their book even hits the shelves. What works, what doesn’t? Indies don’t usually like to share the secrets of their success, so it’s a lonely slog.
One thing that my SO, ‘Mr. Man’ always reminds me is that it never hurts to write another book. So when I’m done with “The Void Wept” I have another book to move on to. 😉