Thursday, September 07, 2017

Marketing for self-publishers - does this idea work

Yesterday I came across a blog post entitled: The Fool-Proof Twitter Book Marketing Strategy You Need to be Using. My first reaction was, Yes, this is what I've been looking for, but having considered overnight some of the things the author is saying, I'm having second thoughts. 

One thing I do agree with is that merely announcing on Twitter that you've written and published a book will probably not add a single sale to your sales chart. I get tweets like this all the time from different authors, and most of the time I switch off, or just flick straight past them. Once in a blue moon I will actually consider buying the book on the strength of the tweet, and occasionally (perhaps five or six times in nearly a decade of being on Twitter) I've actually bought a book. 

So it's not a total loss, but it certainly won't bring big sales - unless you're already very well known as an author. Even then it's only part of the overall marketing strategy. 

Another thing the writer, Derek Murphy, says is that interaction with other readers - not other authors - is necessary. And again don't hammer them with the sales pitches: befriend them as people, and respond to their tweets and talk about mutual areas of interest. 

Neither of these things were news to me. 

However, Murphy starts off his article by encouraging us to add 100 tweeters per day, ones who are interested in the genre in which we write and who are likely to read the sort of book you've published. In three months you'll have 5000 targeted followers, he claims. 

This is where things start to fall down, for me. Finding and following even an additional 100 people a day is quite a commitment, even when you only take a quick squiz at their tweets. Furthermore many of these tweeters will not necessarily just tweet about writing and books and such. They, like me, have other interests. 

But the bigger problem is that just because you follow these particular 100-5000 people doesn't mean they will follow you in return. Some will, many won't. So in fact you won't necessarily have 5000 targeted followers after three months. In fact, it's unlikely. 

You might argue that some of these people will retweet your tweets to their friends and, if those friends are book-focused people, they may follow you. You'll get people on board you hadn't originally followed. Yes, this is true. 

But there's no way you'll have time to have twitter conversations with even a small number of these people. 

Murphy goes on to say that you also need to be writing blog posts about writing and your genre, and cross-referencing other people's posts, and thus building up your profile. Furthermore you need to be following up on hashtags that relate to your genre and area of interest. 

Here's another problem: doing all this work will severely curtail your available time for writing books. From experience I know that as soon as I start to work on marketing, hours flit by, often with very little to show for it. 

I'm beginning to think that there are a number of writers out there who don't actually write very much in the way of books, but spend vast amounts of time writing about how to market. Which means, for me, that their real focus isn't writing, but marketing. 

Some time ago I followed a bloke - his name now escapes me, but no doubt others will know him - who, having written a series of books, basically said that he wasn't really interested in writing any more books but in marketing the ones he'd written. And that was certainly his focus. His aim was to make as much money out of these few books as possible. 

I understand the frustration that self-publishing writers have in terms of marketing. It tears the writer in two. It's no wonder publishers take on the marketing role in the normal way of publishing; writers just don't have the time. 

I'm not sure what the solution for self-publishers is - throwing heaps of money at marketing, maybe - but I know that trying to write and market just doesn't work for me, however enthusiastic I may be about such posts as Mr Murphy's...at first. 

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