author book sales

Book Marketing: What Works?

The following comment I made on Gordon A Wilson’s blog today and thought that the discussion Wilson’s post generated would benefit the multitude of indie authors who struggle to keep their heads above water and their creations from drowning in a sea of indie novels.


“Gordon, I’m impressed with the many comments that your posts generate. I always learn something and/or I get inspired to try something new. Some very insightful thoughts by the respondents. Your question to people: What has worked for you in marketing your books?  There is no magic bullet answer but multiple answers depending on perhaps hundreds of factors like how many Facebook friends one has to how many followers like to read and how many like to read in that particular genre and how many will like a book enough to part with a few bucks. How many “free books” already are in a potential reader’s “to read” library?

I believe that good or great content is not enough but is an essential starting point – that was proven with Melville’s Moby Dick more than a century ago as it generated mediocre sales during his lifetime. But perhaps he would have done better in the Twitter/Facebook age? Perhaps not. The capitalistic marketplace (no I’m not a socialist) is a brutal environment for artists of all stripes. Indies are forced to play the game, figure out strategies and spend much of their time not creating their art but in often-vain endeavors to prevent their creations from sinking into oblivion.

I agree with one poster that there is no magic bullet. It’s probably about a lot of different marketing tactics but also in avoiding over-exposure. Getting your book on every blog that offers free exposure or tweeting about your book ten times per day with your Twitter account tethered to your Facebook pages may be a death knell for your prized creations.

What works? It is the number one existential question for indie authors – many of whom have no clue just how much marketing they will need to do before, during and after publication.

Book cover first impression

I agree with another poster that there are essentially two kinds of writers: the ones who tailor their craft to meet the popular desires of the reading public and those who refuse to compromise and – like Melville – ‘let the chips fall where they may’ while being true to their art. Of course there have been writers whose favorite genre happened to coincide with the popular taste at the moment and just kept slamming away, pounding out stories week after week that became tremendously popular – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes series come to mind. A combination of talent and timing. Doyle had his finger, no doubt, on the popular pulse.

Sorry but I have no ironclad advice to lend. I simply continue to base my marketing philosophy on something someone said to me years ago when I began a retail store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: “You’ve got to keep shooting.” I do advise reading some guidebooks to self-publishing that can help indies avoid some common errors. Usually the guidebooks are free as a download by companies looking to sell indies their publishing packages. There are many good guides out there. Here’s one I like: Self-Publishing the Smart Way

Here is the link to Gordon Wilson’s blog where you can read the post and the many insightful comments. Gordon’s Blog

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