Batten down the hatches. I’m going in. I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to the way we as authors promote. You might have noticed all the posts on my Facebook profile.
I get this. I truly do. And there’s a huge element of truth in Reason #1 which has always been a huge bug bear for me. I need to know what’s working and what’s not when it’s happening, not when I get my quarterly statements. Publishers in general could do a lot to endear author confidence by having an online platform where authors can have up to date information on their sales, even if it’s not true ‘real time’. We’d at least have something. That’s why I like the idea of self-publishing. Indie authors do have better options, but they also must fork out the cash up front. It’s a decision one must make and in this climate of falling sales, readers being spoilt for choice, and the influx of new authors to the market every hour, I’m happy to let my publisher bear those costs.
I don’t agree that authors shouldn’t market themselves. We have a responsibility to build our own brand as much as the publisher does. Gone are the days where authors sit around imbibing cocktails and telling people smugly, ‘I wrote a book, you know,’ and watching their publisher do all the hard work. Authors are their own business. You might have a promotions company to manage most of your publicity and do the big stuff, but as a business, you personally must network, and build that brand. You’re not excluded from that, and to think you should be is naïve, no matter how much we’d simply like to drink cocktails and reap in those royalties.
I published this on my Facebook page recently and it garnered a lot of response. As it should. As authors we must move with the times and the vagaries of the market and have as many baskets as possible into which to place our marketing strategy. And yes, there may be cost involved with that.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.
Facebook is only one of the outlets we use and it’s a biggie. It’s getting tougher by the minute to use it as a promoting tool. Whether we like it or not, Facebook is a business when it comes to pages. If we want to promote and advertise, we need to pay for it, the same as we would elsewhere. Facebook’s challenge is making it as easy and as cost beneficial as it can for its patrons. It’s about being able to read the results of a boosted post or campaign, have the information at our fingertips and see where we should be better spending our money. It’s about giving us the qualified information to make a choice. That’s what Facebook owes us. If they DON’T do this, then we have the right to complain.
While I hate to think they will one day monetise groups, depending on what the group was formed for, if it’s for promotion, pimping and author advertising to a selected target market- isn’t that the cost of doing business and shouldn’t we be paying for it? It might suck, but is it truly wrong?
It’s only a matter of time before other social networks decide to do the same.
If authors don’t want to pay for Facebook ads, boosted posts etc, then we need to look at where we can focus on moving our promotional efforts to places better suited. The areas we can control are our websites, our newsletters, our social networks to the point of building and maintaining a social relationship with readers, not a promotional one. Readers get to know us personally, they’ll remember us more when we tell them about something new coming out in conversation. Another area we have control over are author conferences, signing events and days out with readers to catch up. Some of them are costly, yes, but we don’t baulk at paying for these like we do Facebook ads. Why? Because we can see the results face to face. We can see how many books we’ve sold, how many new fans we’ve made and how many we’ve happened to retain just by a hallo and a cup of coffee.
While I’m not an advocate for Patreon, or other arrangements like this (I’m not judging, it’s just not for me), I do know authors are using this to deliver bespoke material to select readers and eke an existence out of it. I have no idea how this brings new readers to an author’s book as it’s something I haven’t investigated. It works for some though and nowadays, anything we can do to encourage sales is relevant. It’s what works for you as an author that’s important.
The other way we can encourage book sales (although it can’t be measured) is with sites like
Queer Romance Ink
Book + Main
Paranormal Romance Guild
The Romance Reviews
I belong to all of them, and while I can’t measure my success, I have access to time saving applications, preferential reviews, ease of social media use and a lot more. That’s valuable to me in terms of time and money. It gets my reach further out, via their web sites, and attracts people who might read my stories.
The trick here is to check the quality of what’s on offer and who is behind it. There are a lot of similar sites out there who promise a lot and deliver less. These ones I have a relationship with and I trust them.
On my website I have my own Bookateria which links directly to my publisher’s site to purchase, because I earn more royalties that way. I’m looking at creating a merchandise range this year as well. Who wouldn’t want Leslie’s sexy legs on high heels on a tee-shirt? In short, I’m taking a long, hard look at everything I do to make sure it’s beneficial for me, and my readers.
Because times are changing and if we don’t move with it to become the creators of our own success, rather than rely on third parties like Facebook to do it for us, when that alarm bell rings for the final time, it’ll be too late. And as an industry, together, we can perhaps create a stronger genre where everyone benefits.