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Marketing Moron

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by ryanzdawson, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Tl;dr: I need help marketing my books but I don't know what to ask because seeking help wasn't even my idea in the first place. Also I have a neurodevelopmental disorder.

    Hello. I joined this forum at the behest of Dr. Temple Grandin, who told me on the phone that I should get on a writing forum and hobnob with people and promote myself. I am autistic and, while I'm articulate, I'm profoundly socially inept. To be honest, I didn't want to take Dr. Grandin's advice because the rest of it was clueless and empty and because I don't know how to hobnob and promote myself. But I am trying.

    I have five books out now. The first and fifth are self-published and the other three were published by a tiny, broke publishing house that was really just two brothers in their garage. I'm unable to market my work by myself. Unfortunately, I need someone who will hold my hand through the whole process, and I'm not going to ask anyone to do that. My small publisher was able to spend money to buy ads on Google, FB, Goodreads, and Drive-Thru Fiction, but those ads never translated to sales. So I guess I need help. But I don't know what to ask for.

    See, this wasn't my idea. I told my therapist I was retiring from writing because my books don't sell and, as a 40-year-old with no savings, I really need to focus on getting a job that actually pays. But my therapist was unhappy with that and he suggested I contact my local autism society as well as Temple Grandin. I did what he said, but nothing came of that. Basically, I don't know what to ask. I'm doing what someone else wants me to do, not what I want to do. That's why this doesn't make any dang sense.
     
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  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Okay. What are your books about?

    There's five parts to marketing an indie book: Your platform, your email list, your social media, your connections, and your ads.

    Platform: You need a "base" on the web that you want to bring people to. You need people to show up and buy your book through this base. The poor man's version is to just use your Amazon page, while others build up a nice website around their work.

    Email list: You want people to sign up to receive announcements about your next book. That's it. Basically, "notify me when a book becomes available." Most people build this into a regular newsletter, but I think that should be considered separate.

    Social Media: Twitter is good if you have a sense of humor. Facebook is good otherwise. Tumblr if you're the "type." Find things to post regularly, such as a blog running from your platform, or just anything that you think your readers would be interested, like other books you like.

    Your Connections: The best way to really market is to reach out to people, like reviewers or bloggers, and ask them to promote you. The offer is usually one of two things: "I'll provide you with a free copy in exchange for an honest review....." or "I was looking through your content, and I want to put together a blog post about my book I think your audience would enjoy." Before they get back to you they'll immediately go to your platform wondering "Who is this guy....?" and "Is their stuff any good?" If they like you, you get a shot with their audience.

    Ads: Ads can be difficult to figure out, and easy to sink money into at a loss. Ideally you want to reach a smaller number of targetted people with several different ads. It's often the third or fourth ad that gets results.
     
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  3. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    I've found lots of author/marketing help from The Book Doctors. They have a youtube channel with tons of resources there. They also have a self-help book on all things writing. I'd encourage you to check it out and see if it works for you.
     
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  4. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Hello! Thank you for replying. I really appreciate it! This is all very confusing.

    Okay. What are your books about?
    The King's Eagle is about the chief of a wilderness tribe. He finds a giant eagle in a snare and frees it. Then, when a rival tribe wipes his tribe out, he is saved by people riding giant eagles. The themes of the book are survivor's guilt and isolation.
    Melidora is about a girl who washes up on the shores of a magical land populated by anthropomorphic animals. She travels across this land with a weasel guide and takes part in a war against invading steampunk robots. Themes are platonic love, memory, identity, and surviving trauma.
    Graveworld (published in 2 volumes) is about a 30-somethinf autistic man who, after an accident, finds himself in the land of the dead. He goes on a quest to find the only other living humans soul there and, on the way, learns to be an active part of his own life. Themes are isolation (again), self-esteem, suicide, and hope.
    Sparrowmancer is about an itinerant mage traveling through a post-apocalyptic world hunting mecha and monsters. He is aromantic, asexual, and very much like an autistic person in how he interacts with people and how he processes feelings. Themes include isolation (a favorite), empathy, and emotional intelligence.

    Platform: You need a "base" on the web that you want to bring people to. You need people to show up and buy your book through this base. The poor man's version is to just use your Amazon page, while others build up a nice website around their work.
    I have a website. My publisher made it. They didn't tell me what to put on it or how to use it.

    Email list: You want people to sign up to receive announcements about your next book. That's it. Basically, "notify me when a book becomes available." Most people build this into a regular newsletter, but I think that should be considered separate.
    How do I get people to want to sign up for that?

    Social Media: Twitter is good if you have a sense of humor.
    I do, but it's bad weird.

    Facebook is good otherwise.
    I hardly ever use FB anymore. I tried to get into groups and interact with people, but I had no success. If there is something that it takes to ingratiate oneself to others online, I neuroanatomically do not have that thing.

    Find things to post regularly, such as a blog running from your platform, or just anything that you think your readers would be interested, like other books you like.
    I do have a blog, but it is about living with autism. I don't know what people are interested in, but I am interested in philosophy and linguistics. These haven't been popular topics in my experience. I don't belong to any fandoms, and I like to read ancient poetry (e.g. Petrarch) and textbooks. Draw a circle that contains all the people online you think are cool and all the things they do, say, read, talk about, and have some interest in. Put a dot well outside that circle. That dot is me. I don't experience interest the way NT people do. I have very narrow interest in niche topics, and I can't cross into the circle of normal interests and interactions. This is very frustrating and impedes my life significantly.

    Your Connections: The best way to really market is to reach out to people, like reviewers or bloggers, and ask them to promote you. The offer is usually one of two things: "I'll provide you with a free copy in exchange for an honest review....." or "I was looking through your content, and I want to put together a blog post about my book I think your audience would enjoy." Before they get back to you they'll immediately go to your platform wondering "Who is this guy....?" and "Is their stuff any good?" If they like you, you get a shot with their audience.
    This sounds very scary but I can try it. I have some experience contacting reviewers, but that wasn't productive. None of the ones my publisher and I contacted responded, maybe because my online presence doesn't meet their criteria for interesting. When I have to perform to impress, I can't manage it. I miss social cues and nonverbal information, I fail to guess expectations, and then I can't act on my own. Whom should I contact and what should I say, do you think? I'm sorry for being difficult. The idea of reaching out and trying to make people interested leaves my stupefied and paralyzed.

    Ads: Ads can be difficult to figure out, and easy to sink money into at a loss. Ideally you want to reach a smaller number of targetted people with several different ads. It's often the third or fourth ad that gets results.
    My publisher spent over $1,000 on ads in the past 4-5 years. They were confused that the ads they ran did nothing. I was confused, too. The publisher also did a number of conversations where they tried to hawk my books with little success. Anyway, I still haven't figured ads out.

    The prospect of taking all of this myself is very scary and confusing. I recently paid someone on Fiverr for promotion, and nothing came of that. But I could find someone on that site who would help me with the nuance of all this work so I don't feel like a blind person at which people are shouting, "Just look more!"
     
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  5. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    I will take your advice. What does checking that site/service out look like?
     
  6. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    Oh, for the Book Doctors? Well, you can either go to their website directly or just subscribe to their YouTube channel. Either option will be good. :)
     
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  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I took a look at your first book on Amazon. You have ten reviews, which is more than many! I presume you have therefore sold at least a few books, but want to sell more. Is that correct?

    BTW, there's nothing about having a job that means you have to give up writing. Plenty of folks here hold down jobs but still find time to write. Don't think it's an either/or proposition.

    Also, I know plenty of people who like Petrarch. :)
     
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  8. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Yes, happily, The King's Eagle has 10 reviews! They're all from people who know me (accept the Grady Harp one, which is a funny story). I do want to sell more, yes. Enough to make writing my career. But I know that almost nobody achieves that.
    Regarding giving up writing and getting a workaday job, I wrote Melidora and Graveworld while I was working at McDonald's. I could do both, but writing is a substantial investment of hope. I need to let that hope go, because it doesn't make me money. With the hope of making writing my career either diminished or gone, the gut-wrenching work of writing doesn't feel worth it. I don't need to write to tell stories to myself. For me, writing isn't fun. I like the work, but it's still a huge expenditure of energy that I've only ever undertaken because I wanted writing to be my full-time job. I might as well shift focus to getting gainful employment. (I'm working with a job coach to find such, but this sure is a bad time to be looking for work!)
    Anyway, I consider myself a failure as a writer. I need to put it down and pick up something that will hopefully keep me off the street when I'm 80.
     
  9. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Also, I apologize if it seems like I'm dismissing anyone's considered advice. I'm just a little confused and afraid. I will try the things you've suggested.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >I consider myself a failure as a writer.

    I respectfully submit you are mistaken to do so. You can consider yourself a failure as a marketer, though here I further submit that you haven't really tried yet, but you are a success as a writer because you have completed not one but multiple books.

    As for marketing, it's really hard, it's light-years away from creative writing, and most authors find it a terrible tedium that saps the spirit. I keep doing it because, well, because to stop means to let myself slip even further into obscurity, and because those occasional (I'm talking like once a year maybe) times when I get direct, positive comments is incredibly rewarding, like receiving applause.

    One addendum: I very much enjoy hanging out in forums like Mythic Scribes. It took me a long time to find the right ones. Initially, I joined many. Mostly lurked for weeks or months, reading old threads. Starting participating in a few. It was much like attending large parties where eventually one finds smaller groups who fit one's personality. I'm down to three now, and really only two where I'm regularly active. What I'm suggesting is that you can join a couple other forums. You don't have to talk at all if you don't want to. Talk when you're comfortable. Ask a question (as you've done here). You may just find others who are, if not just like you, at least compatible, interesting, and helpful.
     
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  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Totally agree with Skip. Marketing is an entirely different skill set, and perhaps one that requires a different mindset to attack. If you have to skills and the desire, you can acquire both, if not, find someone who likes marketing and make an arrangement.
     
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  12. Hyacinth Cornerstone

    Hyacinth Cornerstone New Member

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  13. Mia

    Mia Minstrel

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    you have a sense of humor and are genuine. your posts are nice to read and funny like:

    Facebook is good otherwise.
    I hardly ever use FB anymore. I tried to get into groups and interact with people, but I had no success. If there is something that it takes to ingratiate oneself to others online, I neuroanatomically do not have that thing.

    i know you are being serious but the way you phrased it made me smile
     
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  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, marketing is difficult on your own and scary unless you have a mjaor backup income. The one year I was going to put myself out there in person, travel, and shake hands, Coronavirus strikes! Yep, that destroyed all those plans. That has no doubt set me back. I am, quite simply, self-promotion averse. I am not a salesman.

    All the ideas mentioned above are useful but I’m not sure if any one is a key. While any one could be a magic bullet, it’s more likely that each one creates a tiny trickle and those trickles (hopfully) merge into streams, and eventually become tributaries to your river of book sales, LOL. My stream is just enough to make money right now, but scaling up to make more money has proved trickier than I’d hoped! And then I have weird things like selling 20 books in Australia in two days with no advertising down under. At that point, I wonder how much my advertising is REALLY doing if I have sales spikes like that with zero ads. But they must come from somewhere...

    Try everything free first, see what seems to work for you, including something like Prolific Works, which can get you in front of new readers. With 5 books, giving away a few (or just samples) can boost read through. Read through is how money is made in advertising books as an Indie. Lots of little FB sites will let you plug your books for free. Do they work? Who knows. But, they’re free except for a few seconds to post. Blogging is good but I’d tie the personal into your books and writing.

    And I hate to say it, but the best marketing I’ve done is out of my control and costs money. That is pro reviews and book awards. Eve of Snows has done really well with pro reviewers and book awards. That’s street cred. And if you don’t get good reviews or prizes, you just wasted money.

    The ultimate advertising is also out of the writer’s control: word of mouth from readers. When readers just show up out of nowhere on a Facebook ad and say your series is in the top ten of their all-time favorites and stuff like that, you know people are talking. But of course, you have to get people to buy your book before they can talk about it! It’s a vicious circle.

    Email lists are mysterious entities, LOL. Useful, yes. But here you get into an argument of organic versus paid for. Organic is going to be more valuable, I suspect, but others swear they get lots of sales from those who joined via email builders.

    Personal Opinion: Twitter is a cesspool of bots, and while I hate Facebook in general, it can work for keeping in contact wth readers and for advertising.

    Another one, team up with other authors for promotions. But this again requires socializing and putting yourself out there. This is probably one I need to get into more. I’ve been considering trying to form an informal writer’s advertising coop for FB ads under an umbrella “publisher”, but that would take time on my part and faith from others, LOL. And I suck at being social.
     
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  15. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I've recently read "how to market your book on Amazon" from Suzanne Kears. While I haven't tried her advice yet, it sounded good and in depth. Not just "write a good description" but going into detail what needs to be in the and keywords for example.

    In general to sell well, a book needs a good cover, a good description and a good sample. If you've got those then you can start worrying about the rest, like adds, getting a platform and all that sorry of thing.
     
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  16. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I echo Prince of Spires: good cover, good description, and good sample. Those first two can be difficult for an author to judge, especailly a new author. The sample is our writing, which is our greatest strength. Some of us can write a good description, but that's almost a separate art form. Speaking of which, covers actually are another art form, and I'd venture to say many of us are poor judges of this, at least as regards our own stories.

    Even the sample is trickier than you might think. How much front matter comes up when you offer a sample? Is your sample all prologue? Does it format well?

    All of which is to say just those three items can take much time and attention. Most of us have wound up going back to revise one or more of the three, especially the description. Because if you have flaws on these three points, it will adversely affect your return on ads, social media, mailing lists, and the rest. Because those three are your product. It's tougher to sell a flawed product.
     
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