Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: book promotion

O.K., If You *Really* Have to, Go Ahead; Write a Book and Publish It . . .


Six years ago, when I’d finished my novel and went through what I’d resolved as the best way to publish (for me…), I was pretty freely telling everyone to write and publish—immediately, if not sooner…

Those six years have seen me do a massive amount of research into the reading, writing, and publishing Scenes—all so I could write this blog…

Before I share four articles that should make most writers think in some new ways, I’ll share just a bit of what I said back in May of 2013 from what I consider the Most Important Post on This Blog:

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

“Yet, writers can find tons of posts and articles and web sites that are based on the mistaken conception that Any book can sell like hotcakes if the author will do X, Y, Z, and, if possible, D, U, and P…”

And, a quote from someone I quoted in that post, bearing on why I call it the most important post here:

“…in business school there’s this point made that if you interview rich people who have won the lottery, you might come to believe that playing the lottery is the only way to become rich. I thought that was interesting. One of the things I’m constantly trying to point out is that we’re not doing nearly enough to highlight both median and failure modes, because that’s where the real lessons lie. As for myself, I find message boards where new writers struggle to sell more than a few copies interesting, and where I harvest data about the low end.”

There’s much more of critical interest to all writers in that post; but, while I hope you’ll go there now and read it and take notes, I’ll finishing writing this post so you have more to consider when you return :-)

So, from the running-around-shouting attitude I had about the book world six years ago , I’m a bit more mature; mostly from having so many assumptions shattered on the rocks of the Truth about writing and publishing and promoting books…

I suppose I could say these next four articles are what I wish I’d read six years and one month ago :-)

First, I’ll share an article called, The Art of Receiving Criticism.

After relating her Before and After experiences of criticism (and, how she now Carefully selects who should give their opinions on her work), the author says:

“Oscar Wilde once commented that to critique a work of art means creating a new work of one’s own. Critique, in itself, is a form of artwork. We wouldn’t demean another person’s writing like we do their critique of our own work. Why should we receive it with any less openness than we would a Van Gogh painting?”

The next article I’ll share is called, Warning: Discoverability Dependency is Hazardous to Your Fiction Marketing.

Discoverability is the buzz-word for doing things to help folks find your book; and, some “experts” will hit you over the head with the idea—I can only suppose they want to scare you so you’ll believe it’s the Only thing you need to do…

A core idea from the article:

“…don’t use discoverability as an excuse to avoid human interaction or to be passive in your marketing. Seek out the right people, don’t just wait.”

The next article could cause quite a bit of resistance from some writers…

It’s called, The Myth Of Reviews, and details some compelling ideas about reviews Not being a magic pill for sales.

Here are two excerpts:

Here’s the thing: If you want more reviews, sell more books. Only people who read the book will review it. If you’re seeing more reviews, it means more people are buying your book.”

“My opinion is that reviews only matter in the edge cases – those situations where the potential reader is either on the fence or is looking for confirmation for the decision they’ve already made. If you haven’t hooked them with both the cover and blurb, the reviews aren’t likely to convince somebody to overlook that pair of sins and take a sample.”

The next recommended article is from a site called, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.

No excerpts for, Mega-List of Free Promotional Sites for Self-Published Books, since that title says it all…

And, if you want to give yourself some Bonus Credit, check out this post about what Jane Friedman has to say about Publishing (plus a few other important things…)…
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Did you know the image up there is an “ancient” printing press?
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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.”

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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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Is #SocialMedia Really Good for #BookPromotion?


I’ve certainly gone out of my way over the last 5 years to figure out what might be called “Rational-Book-Promotion”

If I’d done every technique that’s been touted to give me millions of paying customers, I’d be dead from overwork—and I may not have any more sales than I do now

Plus, I’m a firm believer in giving my book away (as well as offering it for sale)—many are the folk who can get on-line but not buy stuff

One of the most rational posts I’ve done about advice for writers is Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers.

And, one of the most honest posts I’ve done about book promotion is Authentic Book Promotion ~ Does It Sell?

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“There are many things an author can do to increase the likelihood that their book will sell.

“None of those actions will guarantee sales…

“Some writers think landing a traditional publishing deal will assure book sales.

“Not so…

“Perhaps, if you’re an extremely famous person, your book will sell—perhaps…”

And, one of the most penetrating posts I’ve done about authors and social media is Selling Your Soul With Social Media.

I quote a writer named Leo Babauta:

“Converting visitors into buyers is a soul-less use of your creative energy. Reject it, out of hand.”

“I find more value in creating something of value. I find influence a better metric than sales or traffic or reader numbers.”

“When everyone yells ‘Look at me!’, become quiet.”

“When others try to pull visitors to their sites, let people find you themselves.”

“When others brag of their success, let others laud you instead.”

Advice like that may take longer to “work” but the results will be solid and sound, you will still be yourself, and your conscience will be clear

Plus, concerning social media, it may not have the impact so many “experts” claim it does.

I direct you to an article entitled Majority of Links on Social Media are being Shared Without Users Actually Reading Them.

It deals with a study by Columbia University and the French National Institute.

The study is about sharing links to news stories; but, personally, I feel, if a user shares news links without reading what’s linked to; and, the practice is widespread; we might be able to get a hint about what folks who share writer’s links are doing, too

So, one finding from the study is that:

“…only two out of five people will click through and read the story from links on social media.

“The other three will share the story to their friends and followers without having ever read the story.”

One of the study’s co-authors said:

“This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

So, if this study was well-conducted with a significant base of data; and, if we can assume the activities portrayed actually do apply to social media links from writers, what kind of method is there for writers to generate a following (that doesn’t cost more than an internet connection and some time) that can be done rationally, sanely, and productively?

If you’re really serious about “getting the word out”, go read all my posts about Wattpad; then, give it an honest try—I’d say, about 5 months should show you what I’m talking about………

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