Whiskey Creek Press released The Seneca Scourge one year ago. In that time, I’ve traveled the unfamiliar terrain of marketing, book reviews, and the epidermal thickening that comes from both. I’d like to share my lessons learned. So grab your moisturizer, and let’s begin.
1. Seek More Early Reviews
I should have offered free books in exchange for early reviews. Part of my problem was not knowing where to look for readers. Furthermore, given I wasn’t independently published, I couldn’t logistically offer free e-books. And yes, I was scared of getting a bad review.
I should have chucked the fear and shelled out gift cards.
2. Face-to-Face Marketing is Distinctively Uncomfortable
I avoid public interaction. Thus, except for two book signings and a table at our school’s book fair, most of my marketing was online.
But there were other reasons I stayed hidden:
- The price of my paperback is too high to hawk. Whiskey Creek Press is an e-book publisher, and their print-on-demand (POD) books are costly.
- It’s difficult to get POD books into bookstores.
Had those two obstacles been removed, I would’ve pulled up the big girl pants and gotten out there. I’m not that socially handicapped.
3. Online Marketing is Distinctively Uncomfortable
It’s easier than face-to-face marketing, but I still feel like a sleaze whenever I share a tweet, status update, or post about my book. And yet do it I must.
But everybody and his Uncle Bob has a book out, so as most authors will tell you, it’s the interaction with others that gets one noticed, not the endless book-related rants. A delightful bonus is the opportunity to develop online friendships with like-minded people. Even an introvert loves that. Maybe especially an introvert loves that.
But to be honest, even though I’m a mere guppy in the ocean, I still fret and sweat over my online visibility.
- (Google+ and LinkedIn I neglect.)
Some authors feel contests with lots of categories are gimmicky. Maybe, maybe not. But plenty of traditional publishers enter their authors in them. A win won’t guarantee more sales, but it makes for an additional marketing tool. Plus, you get the chance to be beaten by a celebrity:
If you can do them, do them. In June, Whiskey Creek Press ran a three-day promotion of The Seneca Scourge on BookBub at the magic-bullet price of $0.99. After months of me huffing and puffing to sell a few hundred copies, my publisher’s promotion sold in the thousands. Plus, the brief sale kept my e-book in the top 100 medical thrillers for five weeks thereafter. That was swell.
6. Advertising, Not Worth it Except for Goodreads
As a test, I recently ran ads on Google, Facebook, and Goodreads. I stopped the fruitless Google ad and will do the same with Facebook when the campaign runs out. Goodreads, however, I’ll keep running. The cost has been minimal, and many readers have added my book to their lists. I did not run any newspaper or print ads.
7. Bad Reviews
Bad reviews inevitably come, especially if you’ve had a flurry of sales during a promotion. But after the woe, self-doubt, and self-abuse recede, a tougher author emerges. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Some people will like your book; others won’t. And they won’t be afraid to say so.
- Readers will misperceive or misinterpret things from how you intended. And that’s okay. We probably do the same when we read.
- The iffy reviews lose their sting. Why? Because at least the book inspired a reaction. Indifference may be harder to swallow.
7. At Some Point Marketing Must Take a Back seat
If not, the next book will never get finished. So I scaled back, and this is where I’m at with my current manuscript:
So those are some things I’ve learned since my book’s release. I hope they’re helpful. I’d love to hear about your experiences, either with publishing, writing, or social media in general.
*Another heartfelt thank you to all who left reviews, posted about The Seneca Scourge on your own blogs, tweeted, Facebooked, emailed, and more. You are the ones who boosted my launch and kept things going. I will forever be grateful.