Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm Team "Write More Books"

A wonderful benefit to being a GH® finalist is that I was instantly enrolled in a class with a lot of other talented writers. Then they suggested other groups, and before I knew it, I'd joined two new (to me) RWA online chapters, two more Yahoo groups, and watched my email grow exponentially. (Personal motto: You're never alone after you final in the Golden Heart®!)

It was also a chance for me to change my mind about publishing my contemporary legal romances through Harmony Road Press (which we could do pretty quickly) or try again to get an agent/editor/publishing deal. But I quickly discovered what others have seen for themselves: if your writing isn't what the traditional publishers are looking for, you can have Golden Heart® tattooed on your forehead and it won't make a difference. So we're sticking with the original plan and will start publishing Magdalen Braden romances in the fall.

Which means gearing up for marketing Magdalen Braden romances. Only, do I need to?

I've been watching with interest the various discussions about independent (aka self-)publishing. One debate is on how valuable marketing and promotion is. Taking out ads, creating a trailer, soliciting reviews, doing blog tours, participating in social media, etc.: do these efforts generate sales?

Confession time: I'm not very good at online marketing. So that colors my perceptions dramatically. I would imagine someone who's good at marketing has a very different opinion of the process.

And maybe it's that simple: if you're good at it, it works, and if you're not good at it, it doesn't.

Here's another possibility: that the best marketing is to write more books. (I'm defining "book" in the digital-age sense: any specific and separate story that gets its own cover, its own blurb, its own page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple, and that you can announce as a separate release.)

Write one, and maybe it will take off, but maybe it won't. Write two and the odds are better that one will take off and its readers will find the other one, which will sell better than it did on its own. Write three...

You get the idea.

So the story of an author who was selling a couple copies a day when she started with a single book, but who'd made $25,000 by the end of her first year, makes sense when I tell you that she'd published nine books in that period. Most of the money was made from the first two, but even that makes sense because they'd been on sale the longest.

Who knows--maybe if she'd published only seven books but spent the extra time promoting the first five, she'd have sold even more. No way to know.

But looking at it logically, I'm guessing she did fine on the "Write More Books" team. First of all, who's actually tapping in to our social media streams? Our friends, our colleagues, our existing fans. And they're going to buy our books anyway (or not) pretty much regardless of our tweets and posts. All social media does is remind them that we have another book out.

What about the ads, reviews, trailers, blog tours? Sure, that can get your name out to a lot more people, but so can Amazon's heuristics, which tell readers all the time about new-to-them authors. Nine books means nine more chances to get the author's name out to thousands of new readers.

Again, if you're good at marketing, great. But if you're not...if, like me, you're better at keeping your head down and tapping out more stories...then don't assume there's some fabulous readers-only cruise but for you, "that ship has sailed."

I can't prove it, but I'm willing to believe that Team "Write More Books" does just as well.

4 comments:

  1. It's what Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith advocate, as I'm sure you know. I'll be watching with great interest to see how it goes for you. I'm not a believer in tons of marketing but I also think it's not a terrible idea to at least garner reviews from book bloggers that can then appear on your Amazon page, presumably helping with those algorithms. When do you plan to post/publish/upload (erg, this terminology!) the first one?

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  2. We plan to get the first book (its current title is Love in Reality, but as one of the instructors at Stonecoast put it, "Oh that's a terrible title, but not to worry, the RIGHT title will come from the book...") out in October, then Book Two (entitled The Cost of Happiness...at least until someone at school tells me it's not) in January 2013, and my GH finalist story, Blackjack & Moonlight (a title, thankfully, everyone loves) in April. Book four should be out in July, but as my spring 2013 semester is super-busy, we'll see about that.

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  3. I'd love to sell a few copies a day. :p But to focus on the point, I've heard from other self-published authors, who are very successful and DO have lots of marketing, that it doesn't really pay off. You're better off to focus on writing as much as you can to the best of your ability. I like this advice. :) Yes, people need to be aware of your books in order to buy them, but even if you are good at marketing, if you're an author writing should be your primary focus.

    I can't wait until your novel is published!

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    1. I suspect really good, really clever marketing can help, but what's easy to ignore is the passive marketing that happens all the time at the e-book sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I'm guessing 90% or more of all my sales will be to people who wouldn't have found my books any other way.

      It's lovely knowing I have a reader ready to go! Thanks, Tasha.

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