Thanks, Changes & Marketing Musings

First, and most important of all:

I would  like to express my sincere appreciation for the numerous messages of support for myself and my family in what is a very difficult time!  In all honesty, your response has overwhelmed me and all of us.  I didn’t post looking for such a reaction, but to inform you all as to why my posting might be rather unpredictable, but I do genuinely THANK YOU ALL!  I’m unable to bring any fresh news on the situation, unfortunately, and, as is the way with medical matters, it may be some considerable time before we learn more.  In many respects, the uncertainties, coupled with guesses, cause the greatest stress.

Changes to a book

My novella, The Sigil of Ahriman, is currently being rereleased, with some minor revisions to the content, including the correction of a few typographical errors that managed to slip through.  If you are unable to download it from Amazon, please try again in a day or two.  The novella is also being processed for release in other formats than the current Kindle and paperback versions, so that it’s available to all.  More information on that will follow in due course.

The Truth About Book Marketing

I was looking at all the avenues I, and most others, pursue in seeking to achieve effective marketing.  i thought long and hard at what I was finding, and a certain truth that seems to have become somewhat elusive in the quest to be read, and maybe even to make a little money.  Given the efforts I’ve made for months now, the conclusion was rather disheartening.

In case you’re wondering, I was provoked into these considerations by an apparently unrelated matter.  That, however, caused me to identify with one part of it, sending my (alleged) mind into new paths of pondering.

We’ve all said similar things.  Get your book a good, attractive cover – covers sell books.  Utilise every possible avenue you can find in the mind-boggling array of  paths offered by the internet.  Social networks.  Blogs.  Facebook Fan pages.  Create you the brand!  Thrust the fruits of your writer’s labours before everybody you can reach.  Surely, such things, coupled with special events like blog tours, competitions and general giveaways, must see you ascend to the heady heights of success!  You are just a matter of a few mouse clicks away from having a bestseller on your hands.  But wait!  If that was al true, we’d all be enjoying such notoriety.  Why aren’t we?

The answer’s simple.  You can devote vast amounts of time and effort to every online marketing principle you ever encounter.  It may even result in some very minor success.  Ultimately, however, the most effective tool for selling books lies not in such things.  The best advertising is good old word of mouth.  Of course, that means you have to write something that somebody not only enjoys reading, you need for them to tell others about it!  It has a strange effect that other means lack.  There’s this peculiar facet of word of mouth – trust.  You can have hundreds of superb reviews but potential readers are cannier than might be thought by some.  They realise that some lists of reviews, and excerpts of reviews, are only part of it.  They know that reviews may be deliberately left out because they’re unfavourable.  Excerpts which appear to show how much the reviewer enjoyed a book may actually prove no such thing – because they are the ‘gentle’ parts taken in isolation and out of context from generally less than 5 star reviews!  It’s the simple fact that we, as authors, are expected to cheat by glossing over the feedback we dislike.  So, while a great cover and enticing blurb might initiate some mild interest, and a welter of positive reviews may hint at worthiness, the potential reader will still give all of this far less credence than the excited assurances of a friend or family member they trust!  Just as the low opinion of the same can torpedo all that beautiful, carefully presented advertising!

Maybe I’m being too negative, given current circumstances, but I do actually think that this has some considerable, thought-provoking, validity.

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

10 thoughts on “Thanks, Changes & Marketing Musings

  1. I agree. The problem with word-of-mouth for most people is that it’s a slow process and they want instant results. So they spew out constant messages of ‘buy my book’ and ‘look at my good reviews’ on social media in the hope that they can achieve sales without too much hard work.
    I think this is one of the disadvantages of only producing e-books – you have nothing to hand sell directly. Hand selling is difficult and time consuming. It can also be nerve wracking if you do it via events (how will you feel if no-comes?) but despite all the claims about the death of print, there are lots of people who still want print copies and it is often those people who will buy your book and then recommend it to friends and family. Maybe they will even loan it to them, which yes denies you another sale, but if that second person enjoys it, chances are they will be willing to buy the next book and the next, and they are more likely to tell others about it. And, of course, with an e-reader, no-one else can see what someone is reading – another lost opportunity to spark a conversation about a particular book.

    • Thanks Mel 🙂 Yes, word-of-mouth is slow, but it eventually takes on the characteristics of an avalanche, if what’s being shared is really worth it 😉

      ebooks do have a big disadvantage in being both impossible to hand out physically and being all too easy to copy and share (if no DRM is used), but there are ways around that for the inventive 😉 For example, for less than it might cost you to obtain print copies of a book, you could get memory cards or even small capacity USB sticks. At events and such, offer your ebook(s) on a ‘free’ card/stick 🙂 The ‘free’ aspect may be the main attractor initially, but if the recipient actually reads whatever’s on the hardware, they may then tell their friends/relatives/etc – just as they would for a print book.

      Lending will always happen, and I’ve no problem with that. I’ve certainly been driven to buy more by authors I’d never heard of until a friend or family member leant me one of their books 😉 It’s not much different to libraries, after all. As to not being able to see what others are reading on eReaders, that’s true enough and there are some readers who are probably glad of it 😀 It’s a negative that we have to accept, ultimately. At least, until one of the eReader companies comes up with a double-sided version which displays the cover on the back while you read 😉 I confess, I’ve never approached a stranger to show an interest in a book they’re reading – and couldn’t imagine ever doing so.

  2. Thanks for the updates, Steve. Uncertainty is truly the worst. At least bad news can be dealt with, but when you don’t know one way or the other… ugh. Still thinking of you and your family.

  3. Nice post!

    I think it’s a combination. You can’t have word-of-mouth success until many people read the book. A fantastic cover and blurb and all that pre-marketing work are geared toward getting those initial readers. The great cover and blurb also work later when those word-of-mouth sales kick in to help boost the sales rank.

    It takes great content, characters or storyline that people love, or nonfiction content that is quite valuable, or stories that evoke strong emotions to elicit word-of-mouth referrals. But the book has to get discovered first; hence the need of the cover, blurb, and pre-marketing to aid with this.

    The book with a great cover, great blurb, effective marketing, and content that will generate word-of-mouth sales has excellent potential. Subtract just one of these four things and it can make a big difference. Obviously, if you have to lose one of the four, you don’t want it to be word-of-mouth referrals. Ultimately, this is probably the most valuable. 🙂

    • Thanks Chris 🙂 Excellent points! I will admit now that one element of what got me thinking about this was a TV ad’ which was so obviously aimed at initiating ‘hype’ that there was no regard for anything else in the mix – including the pretty atrocious footage in the ad’ itself. ‘Hard sell’ is so damaging that I honestly think it harms ordinary advertising, which is designed to appeal rather than force. I think that’s increased word-of-mouth’s importance enormously.

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