Authors get a lot of advice. Friends, relatives, bloggers, other authors all have something to say. Some of the advice is worth keeping. Some is not. I’m an author and I am not here to tell anyone what to do. But I have a few observations. Bear with me.
The days when the key to “instant” success was “write a better book” are gone. If you’ve ever purchased a best-selling category book on Kindle you will find a few exceptionally well-written books. You will also find a few that will make you scratch your head. So why do the okay ones sell as well or better than good ones?
Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.
I’m from a generation that began writing on a typewriter. I learned how to use word-processing software when I had a contract for a non-fiction book. I took myself to a remote location—no internet, no car, no distractions—and I wrote for a week to get my first draft.
Now we have sophisticated tools for writing and on-line resources. We never have to leave our house to write and interact with people. We can even post our own books. But there are millions of books available to readers. How do we get readers to discover our books?It’s nearly impossible unless you know how to use the marketing tools available and even then there is no guarantee.
What tools am I talking about? Website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest—these are some of the most popular social media sites. Posting to these sites is time consuming. Street teams (which used to be very effective) are really time sucks. Are we not supposed to be writing? Plus you still have to get people to look at your posts. Newsletters? It’s hard to get signups with so many authors offering them.
We can hire a company to put a book on a blog tour. We can do interviews with bloggers. We can pay to feature our book on sites with lots of subscribers like Bookbub. We can pay to advertise our books in on-line publications. Or we can sign up for free sites that promise reviews. Do any of them work? Are we risking piracy?
So what is left? How do we get our books in front of new readers if we don’t have the skill or time or money to use all of the marketing tools available (and I’m sure I’ve left out many)?
A publisher once gave this advice to a stable of new authors: word of mouth will slowly be your best advertisement. I guess that gets us back to the “write a better book” idea. An exceptional book will get good reviews. People will recommend your book on line. They’ll talk about it to their friends.
Instant success? No. This is gradual success because the readers you pleased will buy your next book and maybe the one after that.
So is “write a better book” a myth or a must. I’d say unless you are an extraordinary marketer, or can manage to get lots of Bookbubs, it’s a must. And if you’re like me, it’s what you want to do anyway.
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