Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: book marketing

Does Book Promotion Actually Help Sell Books?


As far as my experience goes (and, the experience of the trusted souls I seek advice from…), there is no simple or definitive answer to the question, “Does Book Promotion Actually Help Sell Books?”

I am going to be sharing excerpts from an article on Jane Friedman’s blog by a guest writer, which is about seeking “Influencers” to help with book promotion; but, I must give you fair warning by quoting myself from a post back in 2013, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book…

“One source I checked said this:

“’…in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.’

“’The average book in America sells about 500 copies’ (Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006). And average sales have since fallen much more. According to BookScan, which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, only 299 million books were sold in 2008 in the U.S. in all adult nonfiction categories combined. The average U.S. book is now [2011] selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”

Now to move on to the article by Angela Ackerman on Jane Friedman’s blog, How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book.

First excerpt:

“As a writing coach and avid user of social media, one of the most heartbreaking things I see is when an author puts a ton of effort into writing, editing, polishing, and finally publishing a book—only to see it fail to gain traction in the marketplace. Often this comes down to a marketing misstep that’s all too common: failing to understand (and therefore reach) one’s ideal book audience.”

I must insert some personal info…

I’ve been using the readers of this blog as my “ideal book audience” for the last 5 years…

Since November of last year, I’ve added my followers on Wattpad

Since last week, I’ve been focusing on adding a new potential audience—mostly college students that hang-out at a groovy coffeehouse…

That’s what I’m doing, right now…

Plus, I’ve been giving my books away—check the left side-bar & check the following post—Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…—for “justification”…

And, even though Angela is very “upbeat” in her article about finding Influencers to help you sell books, I want to help you insulate yourself against disappointment if none of your efforts help you sell books (don’t forget the first link in this post…)…

So, back to excerpts from Angela—first, her list of Influencers:

popular authors who write very similar books

bloggers who are passionate about a topic or theme that ties into the author’s book

well-regarded book reviewers

bookstore owners

librarians

organizers of literacy or book programs and events

teachers and instructors

groups and organizations that cover the same specific interest featured in the author’s book

celebrities (hey, it can’t hurt, right?)

businesses that cater to the same audience as the author’s in some way

forums and websites dedicated to the same topic/event/theme explored in the author’s book

well-connected individuals (who endorse the book or author to other influential people)

people who are passionate about a particular topic/theme (that ties into the author’s book)

fans of the author and her work (if the author is established)

Very good list

She also has a section titled, How to Reach Out to an Influencer.

And, a short section titled, Remember Anyone Can Be an Influencer.

Plus, How Do You Find Your Influencers?

And, with the strong recommendation that you (if you’re a writer…) go read the full article, I leave you one last excerpt from Angela:

“Bottom line, wouldn’t you just love it if one day someone came to you and offered to put your name forward because they liked and admired you? So, adopt the mindset of a giver. Ask yourself what value you can add, what you can do for others. If you can help, do, because you never know when it will come back to you tenfold. (This is coming from someone who knows this firsthand!)”

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#BookPromotion on #Wattpad


Last November, I was finally convinced to try WattpadWattpad

Then, later in the same month, I wrote about Wattpad being a special “social media” platform for writers.

That was early in the game

I had a relatively small number of folks I followed and there were some following me

I have four books there; and, will soon have a fifthone of my booksmy novel, was getting reads and comments and all was productive and fun

Then, last month, my novel jumped from 1,ooo to 2,000 reads and my followers jumped from about 300 to over 1,200.

Today, I have 3,200 reads on the novel and nearly 2,000 followers

What happened was Wattpad decided to Feature my book.

Suddenly, being on Wattpad is “work” yet very welcome and productive work.

Back in November, my novel was being read in around 10 countries.

This map shows the situation now (countries with reads shaded blue, with darker blue being more reads):

Notes from An Alien at 7 months + one Week Featured on Wattpad

Do I recommend Wattpad for writers who don’t yet know how to promote their book; or, are either tired of or frustrated about their promotion efforts to date?

Perhaps

It depends on the writer.

One way to find out if you’re the kind of person who can do promotion on Wattpad is to sign-up for free; then, read How To Get Reads, Votes, and Comments – A Guide by Katherine A. Ganzel.

Here’s my profile on Wattpad.

And, here’s the novel that’s still being Featured :-)

Plus, you can read the interviews I have here with other Wattpad authors
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#AuthorBranding ~ Is It Worth Considering?


Author Branding

Image Courtesy of justus kindermann ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/ackinderma-44705

Since Author Branding is something people talk about when they’re also talking about making money, I’ll share a bit from something I wrote last year about writers making money:

Many of you know I’m a maverick, in my writing and in the promotion I do… 

And, it seems apropos to share the etymology of “maverick” from my Oxford English Dictionary:

“Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70), Texas engineer who owned but did not brand cattle.”

Branding is all the rage now for self-published authors—come on, get on the brandwagon—cereal is branded, cigarettes are branded, underwear is branded—why not books?

Well, I don’t brand myself or my books because I don’t brand my cattle—I’m a Maverick…

But, whenever I use myself as the example to lend credence to a particular opinion about the BookWorld, I like to back it up with another person’s opinion

For today’s post, I chose Kelli Russell Agodon — poet, writer, editor, book designer, and co-founder of Two Sylvias Press.

Here are some excerpts from Kelli’s article, You Are Not a Brand. . . Why Writers & Artists Should Not Be Limited By Those Who Want to Define Us:

“I have heard about this ‘create your brand’ and ‘you must have a platform’ at a few writer’s conferences I’ve been at, but I thought it was something trendy like bedazzling your jeans — I thought it would be seen as ridiculous and then fade away, but it seems not to be the case.”

“It kills my spirit to hear writers and artists being talked about as if we were corporations with logos and mottos and theme-songs.”

“It feels as if it’s another way for people who don’t really write to sell things to writers: ‘Be Your Own Best Brand! How to Create Your Brand for only $295. Build Your Brand BEFORE the Book!'”

Jumping in to register my hearty agreement that Branding is a way to suck money and time from author’s lives

Just a few more excerpts from Kelli:

“When I hear sentences like this one (one that almost makes me weep): ‘Brand-building is constant. It should always be in the back of your mind’, what I want to say in response is: Writing is constant and should always be in the back of your mind.”

” I know I can’t let myself be put in that box. I am not a Twinkie. You are not a Ding-Dong (okay, you could be a ding-dong, but I don’t know that for sure). But you are definitely not a Twinkie, that I know.”

If you’re not a writer and you’ve read this far, you must know a writer (or, actually be one deep down…)—tell them about Kelli’s article and recommend they visit her blog: Book of Kells
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Grab A Free Novel…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

In the Age of Frenzied Book Marketing, Can the Author Choose to Stay Invisible?


People have seriously wondered that, as an author, I’m willing to both sell my books and also offer them for free… 

Elena Ferrante

Image Courtesy of jonathan phillip ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/phillip13-62839

You can read about how giving books away can help an author sell more; but, you should also read about any author’s realistic expectations for book sales

So, is it any more of a wonderment that an author would choose to be invisible—not be involved in marketing events—not let folks know who they are?

The media claims that author Elena Ferrante maintains anonymity.

However, an interview with Elena on the The New York Times site has her saying this:

“…I didn’t choose anonymity; the books are signed. Instead, I chose absence. More than 20 years ago I felt the burden of exposing myself in public. I wanted to detach myself from the finished story. I wanted the books to assert themselves without my patronage.”

There’s also an article on the London Review Bookshop site that quotes a letter from Elena to her publisher, just before the release of her debut novel, Troubling Love, which says, in part:

“…dear Sandra, I will say to you clearly: if Troubling Love does not have, in itself, thread enough to weave, well, it means that you and I were mistaken; if, on the other hand, it does, the thread will be woven where it can be, and we will have only to thank the readers for their patience in taking it by the end and pulling.

“Besides, isn’t it true that promotion is expensive? I will be the least expensive author of the publishing house. I’ll spare you even my presence.”

It is said that “Elena Ferrante” is a pen name; yet, she said (in The New York Times), “…the books are signed. Instead, I chose absence.”

So, she apparently feels a pen name is a “sign” for an author; yet, it is true, she’s stayed out of the promotional circus

Yet, an interview in The Guardian has her being asked the question, “Do you ever feel that your anonymity limits your ability to shape the debate inspired by the books?”, and the author doesn’t deny anonymity.

Perhaps “…I didn’t choose anonymity…” (in The New York Times) isn’t a denial by the author that she’s anonymous but merely a stressing of her “absence”

Here’s her answer to The Guardian‘s question:

“No, my work stops at publication. If the books don’t contain in themselves their reasons for being – questions and answers – it means I was wrong to have them published. At most, I may write when I am disturbed by something. I have recently discovered the pleasure of finding written answers to written questions such as yours. Twenty years ago, it was more difficult for me; I’d try but eventually give up. Now I see it as a useful opportunity: your questions help me to reflect.”

She only does interviews by responding to written questions—she wants to be “absent”

One of my dictionaries says this for “anonymous”: “Having no known name , identity or known source”.

And this for “absent”: “Not being in a specified place”.

So, are “absent” and “anonymous” all that far apart?

And, is the author I’m writing about—the one who’s anonymous (but, didn’t “choose” it) and absent from the visible stage of the Book World—just using a gimmick to create more sales?

This response to the questioning in an interview on The Paris Review site seems to me to turn what some might believe is gimmicky marketing into a profound statement about the act of writing and the “interface” between the author and the reader:

“I’ll try to state it from the reader’s point of view, which was summarized well by Meghan O’Rourke in the Guardian. O’Rourke wrote that the reader’s relationship to a writer who chooses to separate herself, radically, from her own book ‘is like that which we have with a fictional character. We think we know her, but what we know are her sentences, the patterns of her mind, the path of her imagination.’ It may seem like a small thing, but to me it’s big. It has become natural to think of the author as a particular individual who exists, inevitably, outside the text—so that if we want to know more about what we’re reading we should address that individual, or find out everything about his more or less banal life. Remove that individual from the public eye and, as O’Rourke says, we discover that the text contains more than we imagine. It has taken possession of the person who writes. If we want to find that person, she’s right there, revealing a self that even she may not truly know. When one offers oneself to the public purely and simply through an act of writing—which is all that really counts—this anonymity turns into part of the story or the verse, part of the fiction. “

So, even if an author doesn’t remain absent or anonymous, they’re still revealing, in their book, more of themselves then they might imagine

What do you think?
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#BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion


I’ve written here before about Book Marketing… 

I’ve discussed my disdain for the term “marketing” and my grudging acceptance of “Book Promotion“.

I’ve explained that snagging a traditional book deal doesn’t guarantee a writer can forget about promoting their book (unless that “writer” happens to be wildly famous…).

I’ve discussed the buzz-term, Author Platform (and, its cousin “Personal Branding”).

In fact, there’s an excellent article, by journalist Ann Friedman, that traces the history of Personal Branding and leaves you wondering whether current advice for writers is, in any way, rational. The title is very revealing—Me Inc. ~ The paradoxical, pressure-filled quest to build a “personal brand”.

Just one quote from the article:

“I’ve noticed a paradox: The more time I spend defining my personal brand, the more contrived it feels when I talk about myself.”

Even though the article casts a rather lurid light on branding, I recommend eager authors read it as part of their making sense of what to do to promote themselves.

One thing is certain.

If you publish a book and tell no one about it, no one will buy it—even if you want to give it away, no one will take it if you don’t tell them about it

So

Writers have a need to consider various promotional strategies and choose or create one that won’t drive them crazy

So

When I decided what to write about today, it actually wasn’t, at first, about what Ann Friedman had to say about Personal Branding.

It was about what Fauzia Burke, Founder & President of FSB Associates, has to say about Book Marketing.

She started her company in 1995 and there should be no surprise that she can say it was “one of the first firms to specialize in Internet publicity and marketing for publishers and authors”.

So, here’s me, not liking the term “Book Marketing”, in fact not liking most of what most anyone has to say about the topic; and, here’s the title of an article by the Founder of one of the first companies to specialize in the field—10 Things I Know for Sure About Book Marketing.

I’m going to list those ten things and urge you to go read the full article—also, I must ask you to be aware that some of her points sure don’t sound like a person who runs a marketing firm

1. You can’t just do social media.

2. Don’t try and do everything.

3. Don’t try to promote your book to everyone.

4. The tortoise can beat the hare.

5. The age of generalists is over.

6. Think long-term.

7. Talking to people is a great privilege.

8. Go for engagement.

9. Start now.

10. Give value to your customer.

If you happen to read Fauzia’s article (and/or Ann’s), I’d love it if you could share your thoughts and feelings in the Comments
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