Thursday, July 25, 2013

Don't Promote

Yes, Burger King is into the "hard sell..." Not a good idea for authors...But you gotta love the "super seven incher" ad copy...

Things change at lightening speed in this business. Which means, what was hot and happening and the absolutely only alternative yesterday is today, cold and old and as outdated as your great grandmother's underwear.

Three years ago when I first started working with indie publishers you didn't go a day without posting something about your books on Facebook, Twitter, and even Myspace. Of course, you had to watch what you posted since you couldn't directly ask someone to buy your book. You needed to utilize a more indirect approach. For instance, you might post something on Facebook about "Identical Twins" and their uncanny ability to know what one another are thinking at any given time, which on the surface seems like the kind of interesting topic that might pull you away from your accounts payable reports at work. But within the piece itself would be a quick mention of my novel, The Remains. Of course, The Remains is about a set of identical twins who communicate even after one of them has died.

Oops, I did it again...I just promoted The Remains.

But not so fast. The point here is that even that kind of off-handed, soft, and gentle promo is not as effective as it used to be. Which is why I rarely do it anymore. Instead I just might post a piece on Twins and let it go at that.

But then how do I get the word out about new books?

I still use all the social media tools, but instead of shotgunning dozens of notices over dozens of engines, I elect instead to send out a mention of the new book on Facebook and Twitter on its release day. I'll also set up a Facebook event page in order to invite certain people who might be interested in reading it. Lastly I'll utilize a guaranteed reader's list of email addresses (which have been obtained with permission from the people who own them) by sending out a direct mailing.

All in all, even this softer approach won't light the book on fire, but it will serve to slowly get the wheels turning. You don't want to see a huge surge in sales on Day 1 only to see your book fall to the back of the algorithm line on Day 2. Better to see your book slowly begin to make its rise to the top over a period of weeks or even months (It took The Innocent nine months to reach the Amazon Overall Top 100...The same for Godchild, The Remains, The Concrete Pearl, and others...).

Things like virtual blog tours, the occasional free special, and blogging, remain important tools. So does careful pricing, as well as a great cover, and a great product description. But nothing sells like writing more books. The author who can put out great work speedily and consistently will find that he or she is writing faster than publishers can keep up. Even indie publishers. I suppose that's when authors begin to contemplate self-publishing (No, despite the rumor, I have yet to self-publish...Surprise, surprise...But I will one day).

Amazon's algorithms have changed. Books that surge to the top are almost automatically now pushed to the back of the line. Better to focus on slow, steady growth than a fast shotgun approach. Don't think sprint, think slow jog. Think organic growth. But don't think for too long, because a week from now, the blog you just read will be old, and dumb, and useless. Like the Beatles once sang, "Tomorrow Never Knows..."