I have come to the following conclusion.
Not all books that hit the charts are good.
A lot of excellent books never sell.
You can become a NYT bestseller by targeting carefully and working the system.
What is the difference?
Marketing – which equals getting your book/s out there and VISIBLE, really VISIBLE.
Now before you read any further don’t think for a moment that I am whining. I applaud and admire those people who have the marketing skill. I may or may not write good books, depending on your point of view (you can see them below!) but I ain’t got the marketing skill, nor do I have the money to pay some person or organisation to do it for me. I cannot even railroad DH into doing any of it either. (you may say aaaah here)
I receive dozens of blogs each week telling me how only Facebook ads work, no, wait, it’s Amazon adds that do the trick.
Twitter – tweet every fifteen minutes and you’ll hit the best sellers. Yeah right, but how do you get people to follow you and who is going to pay for the alarm clock to wake you through the night to send those tweets every quarter of an hour? Oh, there are automatic schedulers? Great, they cost? Ah!
Book promos, “you can’t make sales unless you get your book out there in front of the millions on our mail list and for today only we are offering a 1% discount” – yeah, right!! Some good, some bad. But then author X sold hundreds on Promo A and when it came to your turn, you scraped in ten. Hmmm.
Book Bub is the only one you make any money on, you do have a spare $600 don’t you? – in the hope your one free book will entice readers to buy the rest of the series. (Do bear in mind your average review rating will go down, it’s a no holds barred audience out there who will download and cheerfully give you a 1 * rating). Is it only writers who will beg a company to accept the equivalent of half a month’s wages to allow BB to include your free book on their list on one particular day only?
List your books on every site you can find, blast the FB groups. Whoops, they dropped down the page way out of sight in seconds didn’t they?
No! Only Pinterest will bring in the sales – widen your audience. Try all the other social media as well and do linger to chat, make friends, what else would you do with your time but write more books?
Let’s have a swap, I’ll promote your book if you’ll promote mine – could work, but then her fans only read vampire stories and yours are sweet Christian romances.
Throw an online party, especially when you have a pre-order up, get hundreds involved – give away free books, bags, pens, bookmarks, t-shirts, shopping bags, any swag will do, don’t even think about the cost of posting, why spoil it?
Pay for ‘how to’ books, or cough up fees to experts who did it and can let you into the secret of their success (note, theirs, not yours).
Reviews, you can’t sell books or get promos without reviews, dozens and dozens and dozens of them!! Go out, find people who don’t know you, are not friends, probably don’t read and browbeat them into scribbling a few lines in the right places telling the world how good your books are. Alternatively, join a review group, read lots of books you would never, ever have checked out of your local library, slobber over them, or, you can give yours away for free to strangers who may or not review once they have their paws on your precious manuscript.
Competitions enter as many as you can find on google, it’s only after you realize a) how expensive they are b) most of them are listed in the Watchdog site as decidedly dodgy c) cough up extra money for the certificate and the stickers d) fight them off for a year as they try to sell you promotional material, or embroil you in a popularity contest making you beg and plead with all your friends to vote for you – a good, bad or indifferent book doesn’t even feature here. But the stickers look great and there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction – unless it turns all your other now ex-writer friends green with envy.
Media! That’s the way to go – get on radio, even better try the TV (forget Oprah that costs a fortune and chances are minimal unless you are best friends with the producer). OK, come down to earth and try the local press, fabulous spread for the cost of a book, wait for sales to hit the heights. They didn’t? Oh. After the radio show then? Was anyone listening?
Get a #1 bestseller sticker. Oh, you got one? How long ago? And now? Yes I know, blink and they’ve gone, and now you’re sliding back down the rankings. Shame.
A web site, Oh My God you don’t have a web site, you need one now! You can’t sell books without a web site. It’s really easy, you can do it yourself. Oh, where are the 3D graphics and the swirling psychedelic images? You must to buy this graphics package, and it will only take six months to crack it.
Blog, blog and then blog some more – only you mustn’t mention your book too often, make friends first and then casually, after a couple of years, drop into the conversation one day that you have written a book or two, or three, or four, or five.
Build your own mailing list, the perfect and only answer. Send out begging tweets and FB posts please sign up here is the link (http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf) yes that’s mine and I’m begging and grovelling in the hope you will sign up (why am I the only one in the group with less than 20K followers who would pay for a bus ticket those other authors have scribbled on.) Ah, problems with your mail provider, you didn’t get subscribers to sign in fifty times and send in a pint of blood? Ah, got cut off? Try upgrading, it doesn’t cost all that much.
By now you have lost all sense of decorum – rather like the change between your first and last maternity appointment – “it’s natural, normal and every day, so stop being such a wuss, take your clothes off!” You have morphed from a shy, reserved, quiet writer into a loud mouthed, pushy virago swallowing bucketfuls of Prozac in your desperation to make your books visible. They never warned you about that did they?
A final word – before you press that button to publish, order in the Prozac, Valium or anti-depressant of your choice and wait for the nervous breakdown.
I’ve tried all of these. What has worked for you? Has anything shot you up next to the great scribes? Please let me know.
And while I’m at it, here are my books –
and my web site of course http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com