Category Archives: book and novel promotion

Author Community All Aflutter and Cluck. OMG!

So, a bunch of “legitimate, hard-working ‘authors'” are in an outrage. Feathers are kerfuffled, bent, even broken. Tsks, clucks, cries, and screams of outrage (text-style) flood the cyberlanes. SJW-style calls-to-action abound. Hands grab virtual pitchforks, clubs, hoes, and hatchets.

It might not make your local news, but, in the online author circles, the ripples are palpable, the temblors quaking their virtual landscapes. The headline reads: “Scammers Break The Kindle Store”. (If you’re interested, DuckDuckGo it, because, no, I won’t link to it or any of its reblogs.) What that headline should read is: “System-Gaming ‘Authors’ Beaten at Their Own Game,” because that’s what’s happened.

Authors ‘serious’ about getting their ‘eBooks’ noticed in the hopes of making both money and a name for themselves as ‘successful indie authors’ collect and then mine their followers, email list subscribers, author pals and cooperatives, friends, relatives, and anybody else they can to try to get their books highly ranked on Amazon and other online book selling venues. Calls-to-action abound with

  • Urges to read a provided eARC (eBook version of an Advanced Review Copy) then post reviews of the book on its release date or very soon thereafter. (Of course, four and five star reviews are expected.)
  • Coordination of blog posts among genre-similar associate authors promoting the book are pre-scheduled, as are blog tours.
  • Subscribers and followers are urged to buy within x days of release or an older release’s new promotion, with specific dates sometimes assigned.
  • Social media pals are sent copy to post pre-release, on release day, and the few days following that release.
  • Seeking permafree status on Amazon of an author’s first book or, better, of the first of a series, is something pursued with vengeance and artful manipulation.
  • BookBub campaigns, Book Gorilla campaigns, eliciting votes for best cover contests and best book contests….
  • et al. ad infinitum.

Here’s the reality: Legitimately good books written by legitimately good authors don’t usually make it to the top of any rankings, because most legitimately good authors don’t have the crowd charisma and marketing gumption (and, yes, I said ‘gumption’, defined as ‘boldness of enterprise; aggressiveness’, because that’s what it is) necessary to hold sway.  Success in eBooks, especially on Amazon, regardless of actually how good the book is (and most of them are, in fact, schlock) is based on how well the author of that top-ranked book has gamed the system, which is dependent upon ‘likeability’, luck, skill at manipulating the various ranking algorithms and, more so, skill at convincing others to raise you and your book’s popularity and sales/download/pages-read numbers.

So, indie authors are in an uproar …because outsourced clickfarms have stolen their tactics of inner circle clickfarming and are ruining their game-plan. Truth is, all the outsourced clickfarms are doing is exactly what the authors were doing, only much more effectively, it seems.

Me? I don’t find the outsourced clickfarming any less ethical than author-run efforts. In fact, I think I find them less offensive. Of course, my opinion is that of a tiny minority, and, I guess, it’s extremely offensive to people like Stuart Whitmore over on G+ who decided to resort to insults and trolling me over it. That’s okay. I expect that. I’m not and never have been willing to just go along to get along, embracing the most popular opinion just because it’s socially advantageous.

How to be a Hugely Successful Published Author

First off, you have to write a book …or get somebody to write it for you, but it has to be one that is going to strike the fancy of ‘the mob’. (Think 50 Shades….)  If you don’t have something that’s going to strike a chord with the masses, then you’re just one insignificant among the millions of others publishing in the U.S., never mind globally.

Now, before doing anything else, and I mean anything (no queries to literary agents, no submissions to publishers, or, if self-publishing, no announcements, no pre-publication notices or pre-release sales, no cover reveals…NOTHING), lets go down the checklist:

  • Are you an extrovert? Yes?  Good.  Continue.
  • Are you part of one or another ‘in’ crowd, hugely popular both in the real world and on social media, and do you have a frenzied bunch of followers who dote on your every word, video, and image share? Yes? Good. Continue.
  • Do you have a bunch of money to fling to the winds? Yes? Good. Continue.
  • Are you already famous? Yes? Excellent. If no, continue at your own risk.
  • If self-publishing, get a really good cover made for your book. If going the literary-agent-to-big-traditional-publisher route, start querying the big agents, but, after landing one who actually manages to shop your book to one of the big five, expect to wait about 1.5 years before going to the next step.
  • Whether self-publishing or going with one of the big trads, hire a top-of-the-line publicist, buy lots of advertising, and get on with it.

And, no, this is not tongue-in-cheek. And, yes, you’ll come out behind for the first book, but, if it’s a hit like 50 Shades…, no problem. You’ll make it back on books 2 and 3. If it’s not a hit, continue with books 2 and 3 at your own risk …and, yes, if it’s not a hit and traditionally published, your publisher may very well dump you; your agent probably will, too.

One more thing: If you do make it, hire a financial adviser and learn what NOT to do so you don’t wind up blowing your wad and end up in the poor house.

 

An Uncommon Market

One thing I get asked a lot via email/formmail and private message (and, now that I’ve been dragged into Quora, pestered about), concerns marketing my novels. My hand always reaches fingers through my hair at that point. Why, I wonder, are these people–people who mostly write novels that fit in popular genres that aim to fulfill the reading delights of people who prefer standard and predictable, even simple, cause and effect–ask me about this?  I write to a narrow audience and very cross-genre, mostly to people who enjoy thinking for themselves and making their own decisions about what is real, what is true, and what is significant, as well as who enjoy puzzling things out, not having it spoon-fed to them.  In essence, I write the kind of stories I prefer to read–where the questions and the answers aren’t apparent, where individualism and character, rather than accepted/acceptable norms, determine, not just actions, but results.

I write about life, not fantasy…though, admittedly, I usually stick to stories that end well, rather than tragically, but, then, what I consider ending well would be an ending like you find in The Last Samurai where most all the good guys get slaughtered, but hold onto their honor and integrity. Or, closer to what I write, where which side is actually good and which one bad gets blurred and that decision is left up to the reader, who I hope comes away with the idea that there’s no simplistic truth.  But, yes, my novels don’t resolve in tragedy. I’m an optimist, despite my droll, sometimes snarling, tongue and slightly(?!) cynical eye when it comes to politics and human antics.  I always hope for the best in life, but prepare myself to accept the worst, should it come to pass, but, honestly, in my world, the good always wins, even if and when it loses.

But I digress. Back to book, or, more specifically, novel marketing, my style.

I don’t like to be marketed to. By anyone.

I don’t like sales. I don’t bite on loss leaders that attempt to trap me into buying something else, as well.  And, in fact, I’m suspicious when something is on sale, wondering why. (What’s wrong with it?!)

If an advertiser screams ‘clearance sale’, I pointedly avoid them. And you can bet that I always avoid going anywhere near a store on infamous Black Friday…and, now, Black Thursday, too.

I believe in paying a fair price for goods and services, not taking advantage of some shop or worker because they’re desperate for enough funds to pay their overhead. And, yes, I tip. Generously.  …But neither will I pay exorbitant prices just because something’s popular or prestigious. Nope. I’ll take the unpopular and that which lacks prestige, so long as it’s high quality…which is usually the case, the prestigious actually shoddy in its quality. (A certain ‘high end’ car that wound up proving itself ‘lemon’, one and all, is an example, its warranty not honored by its manufacturer when new owners started to discover significant problems.)

Because I know how much I despise and avoid businesses that employ all those tactics that I mention, and because I know that readers of my novels feel likewise–it’s characteristic to their demographic group–I don’t ‘market’. I’ll advertise–judiciously–offering my ‘product’ honestly and very forthrightly, but I don’t pound the pavement, hawk my wares, beat on doors, or flood your mail with junk mail, not in the real world and, most importantly, not in virtual space.

Mine is an uncommon market, so I employ an uncommon strategy. If you write genre-normal, though, I suggest you use the most common schemes. Google it. It’s everywhere.

 

A Gathering of Rebels, science fiction > epic space opera

Novel trailer for the epic sci-fi novel, A Gathering of Rebels by Aeros (D. L. Keur pen name). This science fiction novel is by, for, and about aliens, a space opera that will take you deep into the real cosmos. The books–there are two volumes to the epic–are available in eBook and print at Amazon here: Volume 1 (Part 1): https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Rebels-1-ebook/dp/B00LQZM9H0/ and Volume 2 (Parts 2 & 3): https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Rebels-2-ebook/dp/B00LQZMATM/

A Gathering of Rebels will be available in audio and in audio/visual later this year.

Not Yours, Only Mine.

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A couple of days back, there happened amid the staid and stolid pages of a writer’s community a small foofaraw ←(a very suitable word for this, used thanks to one S. Bradley Stoner, author, who reminded me of its existence). It was a kerfuffle over the audacity of authors using social media to promote themselves and their books, specifically by sharing their latest customer satisfaction reviews. Someone was very bent about it. And, yes, personally I’m not in favor of the practice, except for the most occasional share of a nice five-star review that’s got meat and flavor. But the sharing isn’t the problem I’m going to address.  The problem that steps up is the attitude and actions of the complainant, namely, “Not yours; only mine.”  First some background, though.  (If bored with any background, skip to paragraph 4)

There are millions of authors on social media all trying to bring attention to their literary endeavors (books, anthologies, shorts stories, poems….). Most of them have swallowed the old ideas that if you just proliferate enough noise about the existence of your book and how good it is, people will buy and you can retire to scribbling more, rather than working for the man.  Oh, and corral as many people as possible into signing up for your newsletter, then remind them of your existence and your wonderful books at least twice a month, if not once a week. Whatever you do, keep posting updates about anything and everything happening in your writing and publishing and book sales life. That’s the ticket, by cybergads, and don’t you forget it. Do especially post about your loss leaders–freebies and 99 centers–because everybody wants what they can get on the cheap, and, especially for free. (This is all said now quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. None of these things really work, anymore, and haven’t for quite some time. Not really. And I mean pretty much NOT AT ALL.)

What worked for folks who got in early–“early adopters”–might have worked way back when…for about six months to, maybe, two years at longest when self-publishing and the various ‘hot’ social media platforms were all relative infants in the cyber world, but then social mediaville–the people who live there along with the platform owners–caught on. People on social media began to ignore all these self-promotion efforts, even (gasp) to the point of blocking those proliferating the feeds with what resident denizens considered ‘spam’…and it was and is spam. (Nobody likes spam, not even the meated variety still occasionally, nostalgically smiled upon by those still ‘lost in the 1950s’.) Platform owners? They chuckled and began to utilize the desires of people to gain exposure for themselves and their product to their advantage. I won’t bore you with the details, but, yes, it worked out quite well for the platform owners, if not so much for everyone else.

Meanwhile, back to the denizens. Social media denizens want quality ‘stuff’ in their feeds. They vehemently object to what THEY consider ‘noise’. A lot of them (and me) just ignore the noise, scrolling right on past, thanks. But some take extreme affront and, foaming at the mouth, will unfriend, unfollow, even block or mute someone whose content they consider ‘noise’ or ‘spammy’. In fact, they’ll unfriend, unfollow, block, or mute someone just for posting more than they consider “appropriate”, even when the shared stuff is of interest to them. It’s the fact that the person doing the posting is sharing stuff that does nothing whatsoever to promote the affronted’s own agenda–say, his/her books or product, his/her brand, and his/her online enterprise(s). And that’s the root of what’s at issue here–this ‘only mine, not yours’ attitude. Because, you see, these same individuals are the ones who post about their own stuff almost exclusively, and I mean exclusively. Check out their feeds on FB or G+ or anywhere else–it’s all about them. They don’t up-vote anything that isn’t about them. Almost never, IF ever. They won’t follow folks who aren’t in it for them.

Selfish, self-centered, self-interested, and disinterested in anything that doesn’t feed them and theirs, they go out of their way to castigate others for doing exactly what they themselves do–promoting their own projects and products. They grumble, they dis(respect), they dismiss and despoil, and, when, having been discovered and labeled as Machiavellian, they find themselves left out, they start rattling the bars, editorializing their blame of others for doing exactly what they do, never mind that at least most of those others they berate do, unlike the affronted, up-vote other people’s promotional efforts and interests.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, from me to you, if you’re one of those who is affronted by somebody doing something that you yourself do, then I think you’d best either swallow it or get TF off of social media completely. If you’re one of those who promotes and expects to be promoted by others, you have to reciprocate. If you don’t, then you’ll get left out in the cold once discovered that you’re only in it for yourself.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all this fuss and blather is just don’t promote yourself and your books, enterprises, or products on social media, except in the most conservative manner while promoting others works at a moderated pace. It’s the only way for others…other than the “only mine, not yours” folks not to get affronted.

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The Most Bang for the Buck in Successful Book Marketing

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I’m a statistics girl. I can, by the numbers, tell you what works and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you who your target market is, though, because I haven’t read your book…and probably won’t. What I can do is, in a nutshell, tell you what does NOT work. You promoting your own novels and books via social media DOES NOT WORK. Further, you don’t need a Facebook page, you don’t need a Google page, you don’t need Tumblr, Pinterest, Linked-In, or Instagram. You need to buy advertising targeted to your demographic market. FB advertising works. Amazon advertising works. Goodreads advertising does not. Your newsletter might generate some sales, but, anymore, if you’re late to the party, which most of you are, then, no.

Will your work catch fire? That’s completely dependent upon luck and the ever-fickle tastes of the mobs.

Good luck.

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Self-Promotion Does NOT Work. Really.

How many of you self-publishing authors see repeated promotions of one author and the latest book by that author coming out of publishing’s Big 5 in your social media streams? I’m guessing ‘not’. You might see a few pre-release promo-s and one or two during the book’s release week, but that would be it.

On the other hand, how many of you self-publishing authors see repeated promotions by some one or another self-publishing author about their books in your social media streams? I’m guessing ‘a lot’ …unless that self-publishing author happens to be highly successful. Then, you rarely see promotions from them. What you WILL see are others sharing the news that that successful author has just released another book. And therein lies the key.

The most effective promotions are those proliferated by fans of the author, not by the author themselves. And they don’t flood your streams.

Take a clue and stop flooding your streams with self-promotional posts. It doesn’t work, and, in fact, it’s counter-productive. It just turns potential readers OFF.