Selling to Strangers

I know a man who’s in negative numbers as a writer. He bought a few copies of his CreateSpace book and gave them to friends and family. Last time I swapped emails with him, he hadn’t sold enough to anyone else for the profits to cover his costs.
No matter how good the product, if you intend to make a go of writing as a profession, you’ve got to sell your books to people you’ve never met. If you have several available, quality will encourage them to buy your other books. But that first hurdle is the highest: you’ve got to convince someone to read your book.
No matter how good your title is, how grabby your cover is, how enticing your blurb is, you’ve got to see that potential readers know the book exists.
Marketing is the current word; no one likes advertising, although that’s what it comes down to. If you want people to know you have a product for sale, you’ve got to advertise.
But…but…advertising is for SALESMEN! I’m an ARTIST! Yeah. Ain’t we all?
If you don’t advertise, you’re a failed artist.
Tell your friends if you want; I’ve got TEN novels published on Amazon! But if you can’t say they’re selling, who cares? If strangers won’t buy them, won’t read them, what really have you accomplished?
I wrote things here and there while I was in the Army, operating procedures, reports, things like that. In college I wrote a few other things, including a couple of research papers. I thought about how nice it would be to see that get into a peer reviewed publication. But I did nothing about it. I wrote quite a lot while I was a teacher, lesson plans, tests, and more; I eventually produced what was in essence a bare-bones textbook for teachers that could be put on a CD; it gave enough of a framework that a teacher could develop his/her own lesson and present it easily. I wrote quite a bit of this as part of an assignment during the summer, writing curriculum guides for the EPISD. But that was all; I retired and went on to other things.
In 2010 or so I began writing short essays. I collected many of those and they became the basis for my first blog, Finally, I stepped off the cliff. In 2013 I began writing fiction. Poorly. But I got better. I wrote a LOT that year. I then began revising and made that first book into something readable. I published it in March of 2014. Four others followed soon after, plus a short story and a novella. A sixth novel was begun and is almost finished now.
But as soon as I began revising and publishing, my output of new writing went way down. Not because I don’t have interest or ability, but because I was spending a lot of my creativity and time on the revising and publishing. Decisions; go with Amazon Select exclusively, or publish through others? I tried the one first, then switched to multiple publishing outlets. So far, that’s not working out well. Amazon is still 99% of my sales.
But writing was my 2013 project, publishing my 2014 aim, this year it’s marketing.
Just as I did before when I studied science, I’m gathering information. Passive advertising, whether on an electronic bulletin board or Facebook, is useless. Active advertising via one of the email promoters works much better.
I’m not the only one to notice this. James Patterson and WEB Griffin also have books being promoted in the exact same way as I promote my books, as others like me are doing. We offer discounted books by submitting them to a promoter, paying a fee, and hoping we at least recoup our outlay.
If the bestsellers are doing it, you have no choice. Publicize or perish.
The difference between a successful writer and a hobbyist is marketing.
This is the year I’ll tame that beast.
Today’s mailout is via Kindle Book Review. That promoter is more expensive than others, twice as much as EReader News Today (a very good promoter), and has a decidedly mixed reputation. Still, some promoters work better with some genres than they do with others, and I’m hoping my promotion of Darwin’s World will reach a new audience, one that doesn’t use ENT. The price has been dropped to $0.99, I collected information regarding how many copies of DW have been sold already this month, now it’s time to see what KBR can do.

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