Guest Author: Emily Hill
Whether one is a traditionally published author, or an IndieAuthor, the realization is soon reached that ‘nowadays’ book marketing lies squarely in the author’s lap if one is going to reach their readership potential. Any time I use the word ‘nowadays’ I enclose it in quotes because the original mention of ‘nowadays’, relating to publishing, came about when Lisa Gardner (author of Alone, Hide, and many other crime thriller titles) keynoted the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. At the time of the conference Ms. Gardner was shopping her ‘Love You More’ title and admitted, in response to a question from the audience, that she had found the going – even for an established author –slow ‘nowadays’. ‘Nowadays’ was being designated a time, place, and situation bookmark for changes in the publishing industry. It was at that same conference that Robert Dugoni led a ‘raise your hands’ exercise by asking for a show of how many writers had found an agent that year. FIVE of the five hundred attendees raised their hands. It was a combination of those two strikes of lightning that caused me to bolt to the dark side of publishing.
Over the past two years the publishing industry has been ravaged by the economy. Many services that authors took for granted from publishers are just not available. The downturn in the economy hasresulted in the red-lining of book marketing by so many traditional publishers. Long gone are the days when even mid-list authors enjoyed book release parties, New Yorker magazine spots, Los Angeles Times slick-ads, and the like. ‘Nowadays’ the model for all authors is DIY – do it yourself!
Bowker (the entity that dispenses ISBN numbers) released statistics this past June indicating that ten times more titles are being published by independent publishers than traditional publishers. (A wild statistic, isn’t it?) Add to that, the projection that as many as six hundred thousand titles will be traditionally, and independently published this year, and this question arises: How in the world is The World going to know that you have written, and have published a book, unless you get out there and market it! With book marketing firms asking up to $600 per week in marketing fees, marketing will need to be done by one person – You!Most emerging, self-published authors, will sell five books over the life of their title. Five. Unless they get out, beyond their comfort zone, and yell it from the roof tops, “I just wrote a book! It’s Great! You should add it to your reading list!”
Of course, book marketing has to include certain elements. It has to be balanced against your writing time, be effective, stay within current trends, and excite – and attract – your readers! Whew! That’s asking a lot. Let’s see how this all might be accomplished. First, one must analyze how much time can be devoted to book marketing by backing out – on a weekly basis – time mandates for basic needs: employment, the need to sleep, family obligations, and the like. For me the formula works out to my having eight hours a week that I can spend on book marketing – sixty to ninety minutes a day. I recently revealed to a friend, and book reviewer, that I had hooked up with seventeen social media platforms, and their support platforms, and their cousin-platforms. I was feeling overwhelmed. I was dashing between social networking engagements like a puck in a pin ball machine!
At that point I had to ask myself: Is my social media networking time actually at odds with my book marketing time. They are two different animals – social media networking and book marketing. You absolutely MUST ask yourself that question if your book sales are at an all-time low, but your social media networking time is at an all-time high. If this scenario sounds like you, I’ll ask the million dollar question, “Do you know where you’re going to?” Remember, your objective as an author is book marketing – not social media networking. Here’s how to test whether or not your social media networking efforts are actually introducing your writing to new audiences. Pull back, for ten days, from each networking forum you are using. Sales? Up or down? No effect? Make sure your test period includes sales from Sunday afternoon shoppers. (I would say that 80% of my book sales appear on Sundays.) If there is a site that is not deriving a larger audience for my publishing efforts then – what the heck am I doing there? Ask yourself that same question.
Authors who find that their book marketing efforts need an over-haul, or an update , or a re-design, are well advised to look around for sites where book lovers actually congregate. Look for book sites that offer advertising, as well as author profiles, entertainment, and promotions! These are the book marketing elements that you, the author, should be looking for. How about a book site that features ‘Buy Now!’ buttons, book news, blogs, and tips? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? A site that is fun, and friendly, for you the author, and equally fun for your readers to visit. That would be exciting, wouldn’t it? How about a site where you could make new friends, and renew old acquaintances? Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Gosh! A light bulb has just gone off in my mind. In discussing book marketing, the trends, the constraints, the possibilities, I’ve discovered something. I’ve somehow talked myself into re-discovering BookBuzzr as my centerpiece book marketing site. And, really, I didn’t know that is how my story would end.
Emily Hill is the owner of A.V. Harrison Publishing, a coaching service for self-published authors. A.V. Harrison is a micro-publisher registered with Ingram Book Distributors. Ms. Hill is also the author of the historical novel, Jenkins: Confederate Blockade Runner and the series, All Smart Cookies Can Self Publish! Her website is at www.avharrison-publishing.com.