Friday, January 09, 2015

Being a Marketing Slacker

I have 96 more pages to proofread, and then I'll be done with this book, other than writing cover copy, deciding on a cover design (the art is done), reviewing the e-book and print book layout, and then marketing, etc. Then next week I can get back to working on the next book.

I've somehow fallen into a group of independent/self-published authors on Facebook, and seeing what they do for publicity/marketing is making me feel like a slacker.

Apparently, I should have a newsletter. I haven't done much of this -- I once had a Yahoo group mailing list, but I haven't used it much -- mostly because I hate these as a reader. Then again, I haven't actively signed up for any author newsletters. The ones I've received are from people who must have put their entire address book into the mailing list, so they're from people who may have e-mailed me once or twice, people I might have e-mailed once or twice, people I've been on another mailing list with or people I've been in an organization with. I might feel differently if I had actually signed up because I wanted to receive an author's news. I'm not sure how many more people I'd read with a newsletter, though, because that Yahoo list I had didn't have as many people on it as my usual blog hit count. Unless maybe they were entirely different people? So maybe there are some people who read my blog, some people who follow me on Facebook and some people who might want a newsletter? I can't imagine I'd reach new people with a newsletter because why would anyone sign up for it if they hadn't heard of me? I know some authors do contests to build their mailing lists -- like giving away an iPad or a Kindle -- but from what I've seen, these get spread around contest junkie groups, they sign up just to win, and then they unsubscribe from the newsletter immediately (or even mark it as spam, which can lead to the mailing service dropping you). I'm not even sure what I'd put in a newsletter, and some of these authors do them monthly. Romance authors do stuff like recipes and knitting patterns, but I don't know about my audience. However, I do have at least three books scheduled for this year, so I could probably sustain a quarterly newsletter. Thoughts?

Then they have "street teams." I've heard about this for traditionally published authors, where they cultivate groups of fans to go into bookstores and ask for their books, turn them face-out on shelves, pass out bookmarks, etc. I'm not sure what a street team would do for books mostly available online. Maybe virtual street teams? Get people to blog, Tweet, etc., about their books and post Amazon reviews? It may be the Scandinavian in me coming out (there's a cultural distaste for marketing -- something fun when you're doing PR for Ericsson), but there's something that seems a little dishonest to me about officially cultivating and even rewarding people for doing the stuff that fans do spontaneously, so that if they're doing it because of the reward but other people think it's just them being fans, then it's misrepresented. I suppose I'm fortunate that my fans seem to be good about talking about my books without being recruited and paid to do so.

Then people were posting pictures of their offices and showing their swag closets full of stuff they give away for promotional purposes. I have a box of bookmarks. Does that count? I don't even know if any of that works. I mostly use the bookmarks as a kind of business card for when I meet people who say, "Oh, you're a writer? What do you write?" and I can hand them a bookmark that lists my first four books in order. I probably need to start coming up with promo items for the new series and the steampunk book.

In my experience, one of the best ways to boost sales for all books is to put a new book out. When my publisher has done BookBub ads, that's also been effective. I may look into doing a promo like that for the first book in the Fairy Tale series when the third one comes out (the first one becomes a loss leader, so where you reap the benefit is from having more books that can also be boosted).

But I'm not doing too badly, so maybe I should keep doing what I'm doing and not worry about it so much.

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