OK, I am still in the learning curve when it comes to independent publishing. I have a marginal background in marketing, having worked professionally as a book and magazine editor. But no formal training, and this whole online experiment is all totally new to me. So for the most part, we’re making this thing up as we go along.
What’s fascinating–and frustrating–is that there is a lot of divergent and contradictory advice out there about selling your own books. But based on six months of reading and experimenting, here’s what I have learned about book marketing (that is, until someone tells me otherwise).
I put more credence on surveys than I do on subjective advice, so most of my counsel will be based on that source. I have heard lots of strategies that have been recommended for promoting yourself online, and I am sure some help more than others. But my time is very limited, so I have to cut to the chase. Here are the three places where you can invest the most time and money with the biggest return:
1. Professional cover art
2. Competent editing and proofreading
Other stuff–such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and all the other social networks–can lead to results, but not directly. Because they are social networks, the operative word is “community.” That means that you have to develop relationship with followers, which takes time. And since writing is my second job behind being a college professor, time is not a commodity I have in abundance.
So I will focus on what I know, and what I know I can do well.
What don’t I know?
Pricing is frustrating for me. Price it too high and you scare people away who don’t know who you are. Price it too low, and you don’t get a proper return on your investment, and your product looks like it isn’t worth their time.
So here’s what I am going to do. I have priced my three ebooks, Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp, The Kiss of Night, and If Tomorrow Comes at $2.99. They were selling pretty good for a while, but sales have slowed. I tried bringing in a collection of my short stories and giving them away for free with the purpose of getting my name known. That’s been relatively successful–people are downloading the book–but hasn’t really resulted in any sales.
I believe that the problem is still that readers aren’t familiar with me. So during the month of June, I will sell all of my books for 99 cents. Let’s see if that makes a difference. I will also focus on reviews and see if I can get any attention that way.
My big project–The Champion series–will be coming out later this summer. I hope that I can drum up some attention in time for its launch.
This is a really weird blog–more like a journal entry than anything else. But I am being honest here. This is all stuff I need to learn.
I approached this endeavor with the understanding that even if I didn’t sell any books I would learn things I could share in the classroom. Well, that much is true.
Trouble is, there are no clear cut answers.