November 24, 2020, 08:49:31 PM

Author Topic: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing  (Read 452 times)

Online Eli_Freysson

Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« on: October 20, 2020, 01:47:31 PM »
I really don't.

I have self-published seven books on Amazon, and now one novella, and I remain utterly obscure with no steady reader base. Back in the day I tried Goodreads ads and Goodreads giveaways and Facebook ads and Amazon ads and a book blog tour service and getting directly in touch with bloggers and KDP free promotions...

None of it ever made any difference, even though clearly sometimes it does or else these services wouldn't exist.

This spring I opted to finally sign up with a newsletter service, then published my fantasy novella in the summer, in the hope that it would earn me the beginnings of a reader base in time for my upcoming sci-fi release. It didn't earn me a single subscription, even though a free promotion earned me well over a thousand downloads. I did what I felt was fairly exhaustive research on how to properly do an Amazon ad campaign: It got me loads of views but no purchases. Just yet more money out the window.

I did shop around for book bloggers, and actually got in touch with two who were willing to give the novella a review, but it turns out they won't get around to it. Let me be clear: I'm not being angry with them. I understand that book bloggers have an endless flood of material to cover.

Currently I'm still sitting on my next manuscript and I just got in touch with a service that will hopefully get me a pretty nifty cover for 150 dollars. There is nothing stopping me from just releasing it in November, announcing the fact on a couple of subreddits, and leaving it at that. Honestly, I'm much more tempted to just do that rather than spend six months between announcement and release on remedies that experience tell me just don't work.

I don't despair over my writing career as I used to, since pure blind luck landed me that upcoming release in Romania. But it's all a very slow process and I fully expect the process of getting into other European countries to be at least as slow.

Look, I'm sorry for rant-whining, but it gets really hard to feel like even bothering to try.
I'll notify your next of kin... that you sucked!

Offline ericlewis

Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 03:06:20 PM »
I spent a lot of money on ads and promoted tweets and things like that, and it didn't have any effect that I can see. The one thing that has worked so far is a deep discount on the ebook combined with a BookBub listing. That gave my amazon ranking a few days in the three digits range, about a week in four digits. But it was my (very small) publisher that arranged that for me, so I wouldn't know how to go about it for a self published book.
"No one gets what they deserve in life, except by accident."
--Spymistress Vinian, The Heron Kings

Offline Magnus Hedén

  • High Lord of commas and Grand Master of semicolons
  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 491
  • Total likes: 391
  • Gender: Male
  • My name is Magnus. I make stuff up.
Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2020, 04:58:43 PM »


That's exactly how I felt when trying to push my writing on people (which is what it felt like to me, an introvert). I've stopped for now as I'm dealing with the more fundamental problem of actually finishing a novel, ADHD be damned, but back when I was trying to garner support for my Patreon I found the task excruciating. You have to put tons of time and energy into marketing your writing (and yourself) and there's absolutely zero guarantee of any return on your investment, and that's even before we're talking about putting money in the mix. I think paid ads are an even bigger risk unless you can find a way to get those ads to show in exactly the right place, which requires -- you guessed it -- lots of time and energy, doing research on how online ads work and maybe even heading into the SEO swamp (here be monsters).

I believe a big part of the problem is that both the writing business and the attention business of social media are very much winner-takes-all type markets. A few prominent actors find near immeasurable success with viral marketing -- through hard work no doubt, and perhaps combined with ingenuity, but most assuredly also with a healthy dose of luck.

I think people massively underestimate how big of an impact luck has on the process. There's no certified method of reaching literary fame/success (or becoming viral). If there was, everyone would be doing it, and then it would no longer work -- back to square one.

It's perhaps a bit demoralising to chalk it down to the winds of fate, but one thing is certain: those winds will never lift you up if you don't put in the grunt work.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 05:00:49 PM by Magnus Hedén »

Offline Skip

Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2020, 05:59:38 AM »
Marketing is difficult and disheartening. I can't claim to any notable success, but I do sell a few books a month and I do get subscribers to my newsletter. I even get an open rate well above one percent! *shuffle, snort* I can tell you what *feels* right to me.

1) I do have a newsletter. It goes out six times a year. I can't really support anything more frequent. It always has a bit of history, a bit about Altearth, plus a paragraph or so about a favorite book and a favorite album or song. To date I've had one special edition in which I promoted an Amazon freebie. Likely I'll do that more often.

2) I have started running the Countdown Deal and the Free promo every quarter on each title. I always get a bit of a bump. More recently, I ran a Fussy Librarian promo in conjunction and that produced even better results. By "even better" I mean I just about paid for the cost of the ad.

3) I don't try to sell my books. I participate in communities. I learned to love forums a long time ago (all the way back to Bitnet and Compuserv and bulletin boards), so it's a natural for me to hang out here and in similar communities. I can't prove this leads to sales, but it's pleasant company and it surely can't hurt.

And that's really about all I can offer. I don't try to make a living off writing. My ambitious goal is to make enough to cover costs. I'm sure now that merely writing and publishing won't achieve that. I need to sell not just a few books but a few dozen books a month, and that won't happen without I do some marketing. I try to find things that feel like they would appeal to me as a reader. Hence the newsletter, the communities.

When I'm feeling discouraged (which is usually when I'm thinking about marketing), I try to remember this: my books are deep in the churn, unlikely to rise higher in any significant way. But if I had tried traditional publishing, my books would still be lying in a slush pile somewhere, unread by anyone.

So, I've already won.


Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2020, 10:36:55 AM »

3) I don't try to sell my books. I participate in communities. I learned to love forums a long time ago (all the way back to Bitnet and Compuserv and bulletin boards), so it's a natural for me to hang out here and in similar communities. I can't prove this leads to sales, but it's pleasant company and it surely can't hurt.

THIS. So much this. Most of the people I see doing well from self publishing are friends with a lot of other self published authors, taking part in groups, forums etc. Supporting other authors, signal boosting etc leads to them wanting to do the same for you.

The Traitor God & God of Broken Things

Offline eclipse

  • Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4991
  • Total likes: 2420
  • Gender: Male
Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2020, 06:06:44 PM »

3) I don't try to sell my books. I participate in communities. I learned to love forums a long time ago (all the way back to Bitnet and Compuserv and bulletin boards), so it's a natural for me to hang out here and in similar communities. I can't prove this leads to sales, but it's pleasant company and it surely can't hurt.


I’ve read a lot of (active) members books here on this forum including Skip’s  he probably doesn’t know that I’ve read his work.

According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Christopher C. Fuchs

Re: Marketing - I have no idea what I'm doing
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2020, 04:28:36 PM »
I believe a big part of the problem is that both the writing business and the attention business of social media are very much winner-takes-all type markets. A few prominent actors find near immeasurable success with viral marketing -- through hard work no doubt, and perhaps combined with ingenuity, but most assuredly also with a healthy dose of luck.

Lately I've been reading about critical theory and its ideas about mass culture. It seems a double edged sword. Prior to the advent of mass culture, there was no concept of making it big like there is now, and no opportunity to do so. Today, mass culture provides opportunity to make it big, but only for a relative few because people have finite attention. I agree with others that finding your niche community and being successful/valued there (vice making it big) is probably what matters in the long run.
"Top 5 Novel of the Year" --Liviu Suciul, former co-editor of Fantasy Book Critic, review for my debut Lords of Deception (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3016003847).