When it comes to selling fiction, here is what I’ve learned about current marketing wisdom:
The Bad news – no one knows what works.
The Good news – no one knows what works.
There is no right or wrong way to market your book. It’s all about what works for you. If you’re already making satisfactory income from your fiction writing, this article is not for you. My advice is geared toward the author with low to modest sales. You might be with a small press, or Indy published.
You’ve written your book, gotten it published, and now you’re ready for the next step. Getting your story into the hands of readers. Some experts might say the marketing phase begins before you’ve even finished your book. There is no lack of advice.
I can’t tell you how to make fistfuls of money. I haven’t figured that one out for myself yet. Publishing can be brutal. Good stories are overlooked. Anticipated sales don’t happen. Authors may be frustrated and disappointed. People offer every bit of advice you can imagine. Some of it is free, and some costs big bucks. I can condense most of it down to this:
- Social media – helps get your name out there to readers, but doesn’t guarantee sales. Choose a venue you enjoy (blogging, Facebook, Twitter) and make judicial use of it. Hammering away endlessly on social media doesn’t equate with more book sales, and takes time away from writing your next story. It sometimes annoys people, too.
- Conferences – help get your name noticed, mostly by other people there for the same reason – to sell their book. If you go to network, meet editors and agents, socialize, and learn more about your craft, it is time and money well spent. Selling books – not so much.
- Advertisements – unless you have a book suited to a niche market, and have access to advertise in a specific newsletter or website, paid advertising probably won’t pay off. The chatter I hear on writing loops is that ads online rarely pay back their cost.
- Blog tours – if free, and if on sites viewed by readers, you might reach potential customers with brief, witty posts. Limit yourself to what you can reasonably generate without robbing yourself of writing time.
- Book signings – if free, and you can publicize to your readers, friends, and family, book signings are the ultimate reward for writing a book. I’ve heard some bookstores charge authors for signings. Only do this if it’s your heart’s desire to sign books at that store. You most likely won’t make your money back.
Most of all, know yourself. Are you a one book author, or are you in it for the long haul? If you’re planning a career, earning name recognition may be more important than earning money, at the beginning.
What are you comfortable with? It’s tempting to spend a lot of time, and maybe money too, on marketing, but not all of us can afford to take big risks. Experiment, as much as your time and finance budgets allow. Test the waters to discover what works.
There is no one-size-fits-all for marketing. I hope you’re able to kiss the day job goodbye, as you make your first million. It happens. When it comes to marketing, what works is what works for you.
Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, set in the Colorado mountains, while her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Catherine’s day job deals with environmental regulatory issues, and for fun she fishes, hikes, and runs. You can learn more about Catherine at http://www.catherinedilts.com/