Not to be overly dramatic, but attention to a successful marketing strategy can quickly edge out every other thing in a writer’s life. For those without an iron will for the juggling of competing demands, to say nothing of boundless energy, I offer a few words of caution and few more of encouragement.
First the caution – we all like the bad news first, right? Hang in there with me, though. This bad news isn’t as bad as the sign to the left might suggest. Until a writer comes up with that successful formula for selling his or her books, the whirlpool of marketing sucks one down again and again. I have found, with my third promotion, a glimmer of hope that there is a way to ride the power at the edge of that whirlpool rather than being pulled down by the undertows and sneaker waves.
I’m talking about being able to market and write. After publishing four novels, I am familiar with the writing process and once I get going, I’m confident of how things roll along – writing, rewriting, editing, formatting, publishing. Up until recently, marketing has been an abyss of failure that I periodically threw money down because I had to do something. But as to having any recipe for sustaining and dealing with significant selling – I didn’t have a clue. Okay, maybe that is harsh. I had a mantra I repeated to myself – if you write it, they will come. Seemed a bit pie in the sky but it kept me going while I produced a three book series and a stand alone novel! I also made a commitment to giving my books time to succeed – I was in this for the long haul, writing books I believed in.
Turns out this little quote is true:
Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue – Andrew Davis
Along came my success with a BookBub promotion in late March and two moderately successful promotions to keep the ball rolling since then – one in mid-May (Free Kindle Books and Tips) and another just completed (Freebooksy and E-Reader News Today).
The time consuming charting and the compulsive checking of my sales and KENP page reads is definitely passing – somewhat like the way the symptoms of a bad cold let go their grip. In time, I predict I will do what has to been done for marketing and then let the stats take care of themselves. They will, you know – even if I’m not watching.
Now for the encouragement! If you have a series of books to promote, setting the first book in the series free and promoting it to a large number of people works. It costs money to do this but, in my case, the money has been well spent. Think of the words of Henry Ford. “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
After my three promotions, Disappearing in Plain Sight has been downloaded onto 40,000 Kindles or reading devices with the Kindle app. Those kind of numbers make a difference for the halo effect of subsequent sales in the series; they matter for reviews – Disappearing in Plain Sight went from a modest 33 reviews on Amazon.com to 93; and those number help build an email list of involved readers who really want to know when the next book is coming out.
To immerse myself in a successful marketing campaign and sustain it long enough to get used to the process, is an effort akin to producing the first draft of a novel. And believe me, each endeavour has its own rewards. I never wrote the Crater Lake books because I thought it would make me rich. At the same time, I never wanted to go in the financial hole and have to subsidize my efforts from money hard earned elsewhere.
Though this emphasis on marketing may have wafted the smothering blanket over my creative muse for a period, she is pushing through and as I find the balance, I feel the voices of the Crater Lake characters clamouring for attention. They definitely have way more story to tell and expect me to get on with that telling.