Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: book marketing

A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion . . .


Book Promotion Our last conversation here—about Genre—ended for lack of reader comments; but, it had a decent run, on May, 14th, May 16th, and May 21st

I’ll get our next conversation going with this quote:

“As writers and artists, we feel the drive to do meaningful work, but we get overwhelmed by the process of connecting with an audience. We follow best practices in marketing that never seem to pan out, don’t produce results, and make us feel lost and frustrated. But creating doesn’t have to feel this way.”

That’s from the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience, by Dan Blank.

Dan’s blog has this to say:

“Too often, writers and artists rush into marketing without first finding clarity on what they want to create and who they hope to reach. The result? They flounder, jumping from one marketing trend to the next, each one with results that leave them feeling disappointed.”

In my forays into book promotion, I’ve met many folks who had plenty of decent tips and tricks to snag a few folks’ attention; but, until I read Dan’s book, I hadn’t come across someone with a complete philosophy of how to engage others…

Over the seven years since I published my novel, from a sentence there and a treasured paragraph over there, I pieced together the plan I now pursue to promote my writing…

When I read Dan’s book, I met a kindred soul, since he was laying out everything I’d labored to learn over all those years…

Things like:

  • Never stop looking for the kind of people who’re able to like what you create

  • Find out how folks want you to talk to them

  • Make your reaching out a display of how your work can help others

It is completely true that each person and each person’s creative work demands a unique method and practice of promotion; yet, the most effective basic principles that lead to all those tailor-made plans are actually few—they revolve around concepts of human communication and, there are other people who know and have written about them, besides Mr. Blank—he only seems to me to paint the most detailed picture…

So, to provide an aid to exploring the sources of creative promotion, I’ll share the word history of “Communication”:

early 15c., “act of communicating, act of imparting, discussing, debating, conferring,” from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication) and directly from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” related to communis “common, public, general” (see common (adj.)). Meaning “that which is communicated” is from late 15c.; meaning “means of communication” is from 1715.

I feel it’s somewhat obvious that a good method of book promotion would be capable of being adapted to the promotion of any work of art; but, I bet there are some folks who would disagree…

Anything in this post you agree with?

Anything you disagree with?

Something about promotion that’s important that I haven’t mentioned?

Care to share a comment?
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More Conversation About “Genre” . . .


Genre My new “mode” of blogging isn’t all that old, so I’m very grateful the last post had as many comments as it did—when taking baby steps, a few more than none are to be treasured…

Plus, I recommend reading that first post in this particular conversation—Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

What I’ll do this time is bring each comment into this post and follow it with my own ideas and feelings…

First one:

“I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?”

This comment is most interesting to me since it comes from an author who’s been traditionally published. The idea of “genre” is so ingrained in the book world’s culture it seems like a “given”—perhaps like thinking cappuccino is a “given” in the order of nature…

One reason I recommended reading that first post in this conversation is because I’d shared the etymology of “genre”, which included this: “Used especially in French for ‘independent style.'”

If it’s truly independent, it could hardly be something that mobs of other people slavishly copy…

One important note: When you self-publish, you can afford to avoid cramming a unique work into predetermined “genres”.

Next, a long but engaging comment:

“Genre is definitely a funny thing.
I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

“I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilities.
My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

“I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.”

I’m glad they said genre is funny…

To consider that the “story” of a work isn’t part of its “genre” is brave thinking…

As far as the reason for genre existing so folks can “quickly and easily narrow down” what they intend to read… Perhaps this is a result of genre being instituted by traditional publishers, then readers becoming used to it, with it then changing the way they choose books—culture shaping people instead of people shaping culture…

Next:

“I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?”

I told that reader that I’d call it “YOU:-)

Finally:

“Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.”

I told this author that they could consider using “N/A” for the genre; but, then, I’m sure they chose an existing “category” because of “marketing” considerations…

I believe that self-publishing will more than likely supplant traditional publishing as the most common way to deliver a book to readers; and, readers are way more intelligent and adept than traditional publishers seem to believe—way more able to think outside any boxes the Big 5 impose…

Sure, there are plenty of folks who obediently read whatever the Big Brother publishers tell them they should read; but, addictions can be cured; and, self-publishing is re-educating readers so that they can be their own gatekeepers—choose they own particular brand of reading, satisfy their unique needs, take charge of what they use to fire their imaginations…

Also, Independent publishers would be more nimble and able to adapt to self-publishing’s tendencies toward infinite genres…

If each person expresses their own unique “kind” of personality, why can’t each book do the same?

My favorite fiction author is successful in a genre-world; but, to me, her books are all brilliant independent works of literature…

And then, there’s my best friend’s first novel, shoved into “Detective and mystery stories” by her home country’s National Library; when, in my review of it, I found it to be, “…a quilt of meanings that evoke many levels of feeling—moving in space and time to mine yet more meaning… pulling one’s heart into the events, attracting the mind to fresh thoughts about sadly well-worn topics…”.

Perhaps a book can be “categorized” by what it does to the reader rather than what the publishers use as a “hook” to lure profit for their stuffy conglomerates…

Care to comment and move the conversation forward…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of the post :-)
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Great Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message :-)

Starting up a New Conversation . . .


So, last Wednesday, the progressing conversation on this blog fizzled… Book Promotion

Since the idea of using Mondays and Wednesdays for conversations with my readers is a very recent shift in focus here, I don’t expect it to be instantly self-sustaining—it may never be self-sustaining; but, I’m fairly good at having conversations with myself :-)

Way back in January of 2011, I began this blog in anticipation of launching my first novel, which happened in May of that year.

The book started out costing money—I tried most of the methods of book promotion I found that made any sense to me—I eventually decided to make it perma-free…

I should mention, for those who haven’t been regulars here, that I’m a strong supporter of self-publishing…

It was only recently that I found an approach to book promotion that I felt captured everything I could get behind—7 years after I wished I’d found it… (but, I’ll still be offering my writing for free…)

Changing one of the aims of this blog, from reporting on what other blogs had to say to having conversations with my readers, was firmly decided after I discovered that book promotion approach—Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience.

So, my attempt to re-ignite the Conversation here is to bring up and shoot down a few ideas about book promotion:

Spend Money

Do you buy your friends? Is the only way to make friends to buy ads and hope a future friend reads it? Even if you don’t think of future readers as friends, should you buy your readers? If you’re not like me, you may actually want your readers to buy your book…

Spread the Word on Social Media

I fought against social media early on, experimented a bit along the way, and now use two channels to share others’ posts and one to share my own ideas. I first saw authors using social media as a bunch of drunk folks standing on the bar’s tables shouting at each other… Now, I know they’re still out there; but, I’ve found there are a growing group of writers who share interesting ideas that lead folks to their blogs where they share more interesting ideas and where they have information on their books… There are some who do the right thing on social media; but, then, when you get to their blog, they’re up on their own table shouting at you about their books…

Put a Bunch of Books in Your Car and Travel to Hell and Back Bothering Folks at Bookstores

This actually still happens… A variation is sending a copy of the book to a bunch of book stores then calling them all up and letting them know how lucky they are ’cause they will soon have a copy of your book…

Make Friends, through Social Media and/or a Blog, Then Share Your Ideas with Them, the Things That Make You Write, Your Truths; And, Let Them Spread the Word about You…

Not gonna shoot that one down…

Do you have some book promotion ideas or methods that I haven’t mentioned?

Do you totally hate the necessity of book promotion?

Are you afraid of it?

Does it seem like Promotion is Anti-Creative?

Want to help me with this Conversation? Care to Comment?
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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…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Need to Think Like a Reader? Start Thinking Like a Librarian…


One of my good friends is a librarian.

Finding Books

Image Courtesy of Pawe Sobociñski ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/Sobocinski-40805

He’s also a writer—read his interview here

I think he might like today’s post :-)

So…

Melodee Elliott got a Master’s degree in Library sciences; then, she wrote a novel…

Then, she wrote an article on the Reedsy blog called, Using Tricks of the Librarian Trade to Market my Book.

And, as usual, I’ll share a few excerpts that I hope will entice you to take that last link and read her full article…

Early on, she says:

“…allow me to put on my librarian hat while I…explain how my Library Sciences degree helped me effectively market my book, and share learnings that will help you market your own book.”

She continues:

“While marketing is a multi-faceted process, I would say that part of my success was due to going back to basics and revisiting the four steps of information retrieval we covered in Library Sciences:

Find
Identify
Select
Obtain”

She gives fascinating commentary on each of those steps; then, says:

“Books remain in the virtual bookstore for a very long time. Every reader on a search for the next great read will go through the actions of Find, Identify, Select, and Obtain, and it’s up to me to make sure those steps lead them to my book.”

If you’re a writer, do, go read her full article—if you’re a reader, tell a writer friend about it :-)
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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…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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 coffee house…

I’m in that coffee house right now…

Plus, I’ve been giving my novel away—Grab a copy Here or check out this 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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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com