When it comes to book promotion there is no magic. Authors may think a version of pixie dust can be purchased and sprinkled on their book, but they are mistaken. The book buying business is mysterious but the formula for success is not.
Write a great book and get it into the hands of influencers of that genre. Repeat as necessary.
In four weeks I’ll serve on faculty at the Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat where I’m sure the topic of book sales, the publishing industry, Amazon, Nooks, Kindles, eReaders, print books, bookstores, etc… will be discussed at length. (Did you notice the way I included all those key words early in this blog post? This is a subtle way of marketing you and your books.) I know these topics will come up because this discussion dominates almost every writers’ conference I attend.
For example, this week I returned home from the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference. The Somersault Group, a marketing and service firm for authors, ran MCWC this year and several of the workshops – perhaps as many as half – focused on marketing, social media, and platform building. But in one sense these workshops only confounded the conferees.
“Platform seems to be all anyone cares about,” one author complained. “But I’m not (famous author name here) with two hundred thousand blog followers and I doubt I ever will be. Does that mean I don’t stand a chance getting published?”
No. This author can self publish. But that doesn’t solve the missing magic problem. You still have to find readers. Which brings us back to your first goal: write a great book.
But you may ask, “If I write a great book and no one finds it, no one reads it… what’s the point?” The point is, a poorly written book marketed well will sell … once. A great book marketed poorly may not sell, or may sell years later, but it will always be a great book.
Let me say it again; there is no magic. There is, however, work. Book selling is seed sowing: and authors must sow lots of seeds.
- Emailing free Kindle copies to reviewers and influencers is seed sowing.
- Selling your book at 99 cents for a very limited time is seed sowing.
- Giving away books as prizes on blogs is seed sowing.
- Writing articles on blogs, appearing in a guest interview on blogs, and offering books to blog visitors is seed sowing.
- Advertising on Goodreads and giving away books on Goodreads is seed sowing.
The thing to remember is that not all seed will take root. In fact, in the Parable of the Sower only 25% of the sown seed fell on good soil. That seed yielded a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
If there were magic, the rich would buy, horde, and use it for themselves. Praise God, when it comes to book selling, we’re all farmers sowing seeds.
Work as if your book’s success depends on you; pray as though it depends on God.
And stop looking for pixie dust.