1.10.14

Busting the Myths about Book Marketing #IWSG

Last month was the three year anniversary of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by the one and only (as far as we can prove) Alex J. Cavannaugh, and today is the one year anniversary of the IWSG website for writers. Happy anniversary, Team IWSG!

To celebrate, the team has asked IWSG members to contribute a post with our favorite piece of advice in either writing, publishing, or marketing. These bits of wisdom will be pulled together in the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. My contribution falls into the Marketing category. I hereby give my permission for the following post to be included in the guide.



Myths I Believed When I was First Published
by Nicki Elson, author of contemporary love stories

I'm a little uncomfortable acting like I know what works when it comes to marketing a book, because clearly I don't, but I have managed to learn at least a few things in the almost five years since my first book was published. Today, I'd like to share with you three things I've found out aren't true about marketing a book. In bold are things I believed when I was first published; following each of these myths is what I've learned to be the reality.

1. There's no point in writing another book until you prove that you can sell the first one you publish. For nearly a year and a half this kind of thinking kept me trapped like a panicky squirrel on a busy road jumping from marketing opportunity to marketing opportunity instead of calming the freak down and working on the next book. Yes, we have to put solid time and effort into marketing, but the truth is that there's only so much we can do to get our books into the hands of readers. To be successful, a book has to start selling itself via word of mouth at some point, and that will either happen or it won't. It's out of our control.

We never know which of our books is going to strike a chord with the reading public, but our best shot of having a hit is by writing more books not by forever beating our heads against one book that for whatever reason just hasn't gained traction.

2. Having a gagillion followers on the social networks will automatically translate into huge book sales. Watching numbers go up is always fun, and it's not a bad thing to be adored in the social networks, but don't expect every single one of your followers---or even a decent percentage of them---to dash out to buy your book the moment it hits the presses...or ever. Social networking is a great way to keep a pulse on reader tastes and to network with writers, agents, and publishers. It's also an easy and free way to get the word out about your books, but again, for a book to find sustainable sales success, those Tweeters need to start talking about your book on their own. That's not something you can force, even with a massive league of followers.

Rather than wasting your time on "add followers" gimmicks that will only result in followers who really don't care what you have to say, let your following grow at a natural, slower pace, and use that gimmick time for writing instead.

3. It's important to cajole everyone you know into reading your book and then pressure them to write a review on Amazon. No matter how big your family is or how many friends you have, their purchases and reviews are not going to make or break your book's success. I'm not saying to keep your publication a secret from them---by all means send your "people" an e-mail to let them know about your book, post on Facebook about it, and invite them all to your release bash. But leave it there and don't pester those who don't show an interest. That will only lead to awkwardness and hurt feelings.

Cherish those who do read and enjoy, and let that positivity energize you as you push forth to find new ways to get your book into the hands of readers who truly want it.

[End IWSG Post]


Since I'm in a mood to pretend I know what I'm doing, I've got an article going up at Savvy Authors on October 2 called "Social Networking Anxiety," in which I give social networking tips to the socially shy. Please stop by if you have the time and interest.


In other news, the amazing M.Pax is gearing up for Realms Faire 2014! I had so much fun bloodying the other knights in the Realms Faire Joust last year, that I've decided to host my own event this year. Learn all about the Realms Faire and sign up to participate or as a sponsor right here.

23 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent myths to bust! We don't know which books will take off or why, and it's often better to let it just happen.
Thanks for contributing to the book.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You can't force people to spread the news about your book. Or even worse, pay people to do it outside of a publicist or book tour.

Chrys Fey said...

Great myth busters. I know writers who believe all three of these things. It's extremely important to start working on your next book because you want to stay present in the publishing world and get books out in a timely manner. Not with ten year gaps.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love your myth-busting. When marketing seems to be going slowly for me I turn to writing the next book.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Myth #1. YES! This has been a problem for me for a while now. We have to stop believing these myths.

EEGiorgi said...

agreed on all counts. Another myth I debunked the hard way after 2 years of submissions through my agent is that acquiring editors request changes to make your story better. That is absolutely not true. They request changes to make your story more marketable. If you want to stay true to your story, go indie. My two cents.

Janie Junebug said...

Good points. Well done, Veb.

Love,
Janie

Suze said...

Nick, this was a super solid post. I loved reading it and getting a feel for your author-ity as I did. You have an incredible head on your shoulders and I have, have had and will continue to have (little conjugation for ya, there) enormous respect for you.

Carrie-Anne said...

Bugging people to read or review your book can be very annoying. I learnt my lesson from when I mass-mailed a bunch of people on aohell, based on keywords in their profiles, hoping they'd join a political message board I'd started. No one likes to be ambushed or coerced.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Really good post. Writing the next story, the next book, will keep our audiences growing in a more natural, less forced way.

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Jennifer Lane said...

This post had several LOL moments and nodding moments for me. Well said! I'm hopeful Vibrizzio and Blocked might spark the public's interest, but if not, it has been a blast being each other's critique partners!

Cherie Colyer said...

My smile grew bigger and bigger as I read each myth and the cold hard facts. You're right, word of mouth is what sells books. That's not to say don't have a presence on social media. Just don't do it because you think it will equal sales. Do it to be social.

I'm off to check out the Realms Faire.

Feather Stone said...

Yep, I'm getting clued into the numbers game thing. Getting people to like and follow is not the most useful way to spend one's time. Thanks for the verification, Nicki.

M Pax said...

Great myth-busting. I read somewhere that we have to think of ourselves as publishing houses and that not every book will be a hit. So I keep that in mind. It helps.

Laurel Garver said...

Oh yes, marketing can be very crazy-making. I went through a period of being especially frantic because some book bloggers who agree to review never get around to it or just stop blogging. I know that bugging them won't help, and could make them pan your book because you annoy them. And honestly, while reviews can help drive sales, they aren't actual sales.

As you say, you have to just keep moving forward with new work.

Liz Blocker said...

YAY! A LIST! You know how I love my lists :)

I really like the way you chose to present this, Nicki. It's funny and accessible and interesting and engaging, and best of all, HELPFUL. This eBook really is going to be amazing.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, Nicki,

Terrific advise here.... We all get caught up at the beginning with wrong information. So it's great to read about our blogger buddies' experiences to help make our road to success that much easier!

FANTABULOUS seeing you a few weeks ago..It was great meeting your parents and friends...

Say "Hi" to them for me! Let me know if you and Colleen pop into the city before she heads back to England. I'd love to see her and YOU before she goes back!

Juneta Key said...

I enjoyed your myth busters. Funny how our own perceptions can deceive us and set on the wrong path.

Juneta at Writer's Gambit

Tammy Theriault said...

mythbuster!! great busting girl

Rumer Haven said...

This all gives me infinite peace of mind...and buys me back a lot of time and mental energy for writing!

LD Masterson said...

All very good points. I'd say you do know some important facts about marketing a book. Thanks for sharing them.

Nick Wilford said...

It's funny how we tend to have preconceived ideas going into this and they turn out to be wrong or pretty far off. Sounds like you've learnt some great tips - thanks for passing them on!

Julie Flanders said...

Great points and a great post for the IWSG guide. I am heading over to your Savvy Authors post now as I am definitely social network shy!