Online marketing for the new author vs. time spent writing, hmmmmm.
So, do any other new authors out there feel like they spend more time online working on marketing strategies than they do writing manuscripts? There seems to be so much to do, set up websites, establish social media accounts, write a blog on Goodreads or other book related sites, up-date an author page on amazon or at the publisher.
Also, there is keeping posts current on social media accounts and on the book’s webpage so it doesn’t look like the author is out of touch with the public. And, one can always try to post on other sites that are relative to a book’s subject, or join groups where readers might congregate in hopes of helping out a future reader, or perhaps to attract some attention to oneself as an author. I must say, though, there is a fine line in the last effort. Word of warning here, a person can’t promote himself on such a site or he may be accused of being a phisher or a business advertising, so contributing meaningful content should be the goal.
Then, when a book event, or book signing is set up, there is the publicity frenzy: trying to get the word out, inviting prospective readers, and friends, putting up posters, posting the event on Eventful and Facebook, etc. Then trying to set up more book events, through the publisher’s connections or one’s own contacts.
So when is there time to write and is all this ado really necessary.
My conclusion is that, maybe, it is all really necessary to make book sales. Once upon a time, a publisher and its agents might have done all this marketing mush, but today in the land of independent authors, and self-published authors, and hybrid publishers, I think it is necessary for the author to plunge into the marketing melee. So many authors have flooded the market, that it may seem the only way to place a book above the crowd in the world of self-publishing or hybrid publishing is to have a presence in the digital world.
Still, I must say, that most of my book sales have occurred face to face at events. These events were local events, at my church, or a venue for local authors, or at regional festivals. My readers wrote checks for books or bought with cash. A very few of these people who bought a book, have signed up for an online newsletter.
So must I dabble in all things digital, set up social media accounts, and blogs and webpages? I think the answer lies in the goal an author has. To be a household name, an author probably needs to be published with a traditional publisher, though there is a chance in a million that a self-published author can succeed on a grand scale. If an author’s goal is to share a story locally, then all the digital hubbub may not be necessary, though it’s probably a good idea to have a website on a business card that people can view for information on the book, future events, and a link for buying the book. But perhaps, the effort online has a time delay involved and after seeing a writer's name multiple times, a second book might do better. "They" do say a second book is great publicity for the first book!
I think most of us have a goal somewhere in between selling a local story and being a household name. As authors, we want our work to break even financially and to make up for our efforts spent in the creation, and to bring in some cash, and we want to be recognized for our contribution and thus gain some fame. Still, the starting point must be local. An author should seek local fame first. However, in this digital world, most people who have a computer will look up a book or an author online, before or after they buy a book. So I do think a web presence is necessary and at least one social media account should be developed.
The fight for dominance in the digital world is relentless and few of us have the resources to pay large amounts of money for ads, though Facebook does have affordable options. I have not personally had success with Facebook ads. I think it is much more likely that a person will buy a book if they can hold it in their hands than if they see an ad from an unknown. I do think a way around spending money on ads is to provide some of a book’s content or provide a free e-book showcasing a character or letting the reader glimpse the first chapter. Still, there is the struggle to attract attention to the free sample and without a review written on a book there is little hope of that.
How does one go about getting a review? Other than paying someone for that, an author can host a book giveaway that attracts the online crowd and those who receive a book may be inclined to review it. Amazon allows giveaways also, though I haven’t had experience with that. I have had experience with Goodreads giveaways and have received a review and ratings through this avenue.
So if the goal is to sell online and an author is ready to invest all that time into a digital presence, then the online furor and labor is valid and vital. If an author wants to share his story with friends and locals, then an information page and events listing on a webpage and a social media page are helpful in my opinion.