Saturday 14 April 2012

Marketing For Books

What makes a book sell? Obviously a good story that’s well written is going to be a big selling point, but once you have a finished product, what makes your well-written book sell better than my well-written book?

And what makes the other guy’s terribly-written book outsell both of us?

Whether you like it or not, marketing is a part of being a writer. A great book isn’t going anywhere if nobody knows it exists. But in an ever more fractured marketplace, getting your book noticed is harder and harder.

Do you think people really care what Oprah thinks is a good read? Are they really interested in Snooki’s daily routine? When a book becomes a monster seller because it's all over the media, it’s generally because it’s bought by people who don’t normally buy books. And what’s more, once they’ve bought it, they don’t generally read it.

Media saturation is easily the best way to sell a book. It’s just very expensive, unless you get it for free.

Assuming you don’t have millions to spend on publicity, and you aren’t prepared to release the sex tape you made that time you got drunk with the short guy from Fantasy Island (what, just me?), how else are you going to get the name of your book on everybody’s lips?

Know anybody famous? Your book seen in the hands of a celebrity will get you sales. Again, mostly by people who will never read it, but a sale is a sale.

The idea that if someone else liked it, you will too, is a pretty standard sales technique. I have no idea why, since someone else’s taste has little to do with yours or mine, no matter how beautiful or talented they might be, but you can’t ignore the stats. A celebrity endorsement convinces a lot of people to take out their wallets.

The internet, of course, is the way most of us get the word out. We build our platforms, expand our networks, push our profiles. But there are so many of us out there it seems very difficult to maintain very much of a presence without spending all your free time  online.

It kind of defeats the purpose of wanting to be a writer.

In the end I think the only truly reliable method is good old word of mouth. It’s slow, it’s uncontrollable, and you have to be really good, but if you can get people talking about your book then people are going to buy it. And maybe even read it.

Mind you, no reason you can’t do a bit of promotion on your friends’ blogs and tweets. Who knows, maybe Oprah surfs the internet when she’s bored.
Got any good ideas for generating publicity? I'd love to know.

If you found this post mildly interesting please give it a retweet. Comments always welcome.  Cheers.


Fairview said...

Another great post. Depressing, but great. And boy that fantasy island guy gets around!

Patricia JL said...

Great post. I agree word of mouth seems to be the best way, but is no easier than other ways. I've just come to the conclusion that marketing is evil. Necessary but eeeeevil! ;)

Rebecca Bloomer said...

Because I'm a YA writer, I do school and library tours. Depending on what teachers want, I talk either about the issues in the books or the process of writing/being a writer. It's fun and the kids come away enthused about reading, which is good for everyone!

mooderino said...

@Fairview-his name was Tattoo, and we shared something very special...

@Patricia-religion, politica, marketing, it all seems to be about convincing people to do stuff.

@Rebecca-Yep, it's when they turn into adults that things get tricky.

Sarah Allan said...

How is so important, and it can make or break your sales. I'm not published yet, but I'm doing what I can already to gain an audience so I actually have people to market TO. Great "M" post!

James R Tate said...

I think you've hit on exactly what i've grumbled about for weeks since my book was released. Several months ago I started the battle of social networking--the result? lots of friends and followers--lots of marketing suggestions-ZERO pages written on new book! My book seems to be picking up steam with word of mouth. I think I'll do what I can with the networking thing, but get back to writing. Hoping my book is good enough to spread around. Thanks for visiting Texas. Great Blog!
Tate's Other Side

mooderino said...

@sarah-I'm hoping they'll come up with an app for it.

@Tate-thanks, good luck with the book.

Elise Fallson said...

I've been told you need to start marketing and building your platform at least a year before the book is even finished. Frustrating and intimidating when you're a closet writer but want to get published. :/

Also, "short guy from Fantasy Island" LOL!

mooderino said...

@Elise-I find the whole marketing side very intimdating. Too needy.

Patty said...

You're so right about the guy who gets his crappy book to sell and bajillion copies. But, I admit, I've bought books off the Oprah Reading List... just because Oprak said to.

Mina Burrows said...

I think some people are blessed with luck, while others have to work incredibly hard to make their luck.

I think with the internet there are so many options. Networking in any business is the key to success I believe. As a writer you have to connect with readers, which isn't easy in the beginning. I like what some authors are choosing to do, testing their material in various reader forums. Its interesting.

Great post. I tweeted it too. :)

mooderino said...

@Patty-and now she OWNs you.

@Mina-i think you have to be realistic about it, I just think it would be nice to have a magical robot assistant to help out. Is that too much to ask?

Sarah said...

I know there are some bloggers who do book reviews for free (or rather, a free copy of your book). Getting in touch with some of them to do a review can get the word out to their followers. Unfortunately, some of the well-followed ones tend to be backlogged with books so it's another thing that may take time but it's still an option. There are also online and newspaper ads.

You could also get in touch with your local radio station and do an interview. It may not reach the masses but it's a start.

Sarah @ The Writer's Experiment

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Word of mouth - started by us and carried beyond us - is all I know.

D.G. Hudson said...

Timing, promotion, competition, and quality of product - all important and subject to fluctuations.

If you happen to tap into the pulse of the moment or create it, then you have a bestseller.

Tara Tyler said...

i'd love to know too! i think mine would be a great movie. and i wonder how some of the junk out there gets produced!

Ghadeer said...

It's sort of sad that alot of good writers out there go unnoticed..

mooderino said...

@Sarah-I think there are a lot of different avenues, but that's the problem, no one route is the obvious one. So it all takes up time and energy you could have been using to write.

@Alex-a good a place to start as any.

@DG-access to people who are into what you're into helps.

@Tara-whatever the future holds I think there'll still be plenty of crap ou there.


Sara Hill said...

No way have novels fallen behind! I'd say the opposite. Plots in tv and cinema have gotten thin and contrived because they pay more attention to the high-tech visuals: action/animation/special effects. And novelists have optimized the lessons of film to improve novels. They begin later and set up quicker.

F. Stone said...

Excellent post. I've heard before that a writer needs to promote his/her book several months before its published. I blog my heart out, twitter daily, and have obtained great reviews. Still, sales are dismal. I hear book signings and readings are not worth the time. Also, again and again, I'm told that the one strategy that has the best impact is word of mouth.
Feather, author of The Guardian's Wildchild

mooderino said...

@Feather-I think the only thing is to keep at it. And if you discover the secret please let me know.

Kindle How To Publish, Promote and Profit said...

Great thoughts. Thanks. When a writer thinks about marketing their book, many times it can lead to nervous knots because you just don't know where to begin. Being online allows you several ways to connect with your potential readers during the writing process so when your book comes out, they will be eager to purchase.

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