Marketing: Well, We Know What DOESN’T Work (Self-Publishing Roundtable (6/6)

(As a reminder, this is the sixth (and final?) part of the series discussed here.  This series was originally concieved to be part of a roundtable discussion, so don’t be afraid to comment, disagree, offer new suggestions, etc.)

NOTE:

This is being posted in draft form.  It has not been edited (I’m still catching up on editing the past posts, but that meant I didn’t get a chance to go through this one).  I hope to get to it over the course of the next week, but I am a little further behind than I’d like.

Unlike the other article edits, there may be substantive changes when this article is revised.  I am ALWAYS learning new things about marketing, and I’ll probably be thinking of new things I “already knew” to add to this article, as well.  So, even after it’s edited, don’t be surprised if I revisit this topic, again, on a later date.

INTRODUCTION

I will start by saying that I really don’t know what works, in marketing.  If I did, I’d probably have multiple bestselling novels by now.  That doesn’t mean I’m completely clueless, however.

I know many things that don’t work.  And I know a few things that sometimes work.  I know some things that used to work pretty well but don’t any more.  I even know a few things that almost always work, but only to a point.  But no-one, and I do mean no-one, knows something that will always work, for everyone, unconditionally.

So, in this post I’ll tell you what I know might work, what I know doesn’t work, and what I really, really would like to try and see if it works, and maybe that will help those of you trying to come up with marketing plans of your own.

WHAT WORKS FOR SOME PEOPLE…

Word of mouth is unquestionably the best form of marketing.  It sells more than anything else — if you have someone recommend your book to someone else who trusts their tastes, that’s a guaranteed sale.  Have a dozen people do it, that’s a dozen sales… plus a few from the people who those dozen have told, plus a few more after that.  Find a thousand people enthusiastically mention your book to their friends, your book should be more than successfully launched.

But there is no way for an author to induce word-of-mouth advertising.  Paid advertising is probably the best type of marketing you can hire… but when it comes to authors, not all advertising works for everyone.  In fact, some of the most effective advertising doesn’t work unless you’ve already had success.

For example, Bookbub only advertises full-length novels (so if you write short fiction, don’t bother with them).  They have few specific requirements, but they are notoriously selective (if you don’t have dozens of excellent reviews already, you’re pretty much out of luck; also, they admit they’re more selective in some genre than others), so debut novels (which need the marketing the most) struggle to get into the store, and many excellent novels can never qualify.

Or you could advertise at a place like The Romance Studio; they are supposed to be pretty effective.  But, uh, given the name, you might struggle if you try advertising your military sci-fi novel there.  Other advertising sites which might be effective are less subtle, but usually are most successful with some genre and not others.  You need to be careful to select an advertiser that actually works for your genre… and even then, it may not be possible to advertise with them.

Of course, advertising (or at least this type of advertising) isn’t the only way to sell your book.  One of the most effective ways of promoting yourself (as an author) is cross-promotion.  Cross-promotion takes many forms:  Guest blogging, being interviewed by another author (hopefully one with his own audience), and joining an anthology writing project.

The idea is that the fans of author A will come and see the blog\interview\anthology with author B, and fans of author B will come and see the blog\interview\anthology of author A.  Bits of the fanbase for each author will join the other fanbase.

And it works… well, most of the time.   There are a few conditions, however:  You need to be sure that the authors involved aren’t “preaching to the choir,” if you were — if the members of the Author A’s fanbase and Author B’s fanbase are too identical (in other words, if most of author B’s fans are already fans of author A and visa versa), then you aren’t likely to be introducing the authors to anyone new.

Also, if none of the people involved have much of a fanbase to share, it won’t be especially effective.  This actually works best when a small-fanbase author can leech publicity from a large-fanbase author (but only for the small-fanbase author), or when two large-fanbase authors work together.  Another way it can work is if the cross-promotion is an anthology project, where you can collect a lot of smaller fanbases together all interested in the same book.  Of course, that only works if you have an “in” with such an anthology.

Conventions also make good marketing for some people.  Being a panelist (like I was supposed to be at Capital Con… before it was cancelled, prompting this series of blogs) or a guest at a convention gives you an opportunity to make new fans; to interact with other authors; to show off your hard work.  I know I’ve bought books from people just because of meeting and talking with them at a convention, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  However, you need to learn (brace yourself, here) public speaking.  There are a lot of recluses, or people with social disorders, or just complete introverts among the authors of the world; if you can’t overcome that and speak before an audience, it won’t do you any good to appear at a convention.

Also, you need to behave properly — and respectfully.  Remember, you’re probably a small fry at most conventions, at least until you build your reputation up a bit.  Don’t have a diva fit with the convention staff, try not to offend the convention attendees, and try not to make any enemies among the other guests (even if you’ve become a big name who hits the New York Times Bestseller List and are a GoH, there are people at most conventions who have been in the game longer and who have the respect of the others on the convention circuit, even if they don’t have as many sales as you do.  Offend them, you might find yourself having a hard time finding other conventions willing to take you on).

Another way to market your book is, well, “social” implies something else nowadays, so let’s say “engaging the Community.” It doesn’t help, much, to join somewhere new and go “hey, I sold a book,” but there are undoubtedly communities even the most anti-social of us are a part of.  Your friends, your church, your local library staff, the waitress at your favorite restaurant, the people on your favorite sports team’s online forum, etc.

If the goal is word-of-mouth advertising, this is the closest you can come to induce it — the people in the communities you’re involved with, if they read and enjoy your book, are far more likely to recommend it to other than someone who just picks it up casually.  That doesn’t mean the guy who picks up your book off of some random advertisement will never provide any word-of-mouth advertising, just that the likelihood of it happening increases significantly when the person knows you in even the most abstract of ways.

The effectiveness of this, however, is limited by how many of your community acquaintences you can convince to read (and enjoy) your book without annoying that community in general — plastering announcement after announcement about your book does far more to turn people off than it does to get them to read your book, after all, and not everyone in these communities (unless it is “The Military Science Fiction Book Club”) is going to want to read any epic military science fiction novel, much less one of yours.  So, if you make a plug for your book on a 2000-member hockey fansite that you are a long-standing and engaged part of, you might find, oh, a dozen or so people willing to buy your book and read it.  Maybe one of those will even recommend it to someone else.

So, it depends on your engagement level with the community, the size of the community, and that community’s interest level in your genre.  And even then, you have to decide if it’s worth it.  That dozen or so people from the hockey fansite?  Well, a dozen or so people is a good result if all you put into it is the time to briefly announce “Hey, I wrote a book!” in a forum.  But it, to get them to read your book, you have to visit a meeting room in-person and physically hand all of these people free copies, well, you’re putting more time and money into this effort than is worth it.  In other words, it’ll work for some of you (if you use common sense and don’t annoy your acquaintances too much), but it won’t do much, if any, good for others..

It should be apparent, but just in case I should add that your family is not in your community, at least in this regard.  Reviews from family members rarely count among these communities (although you should encourage them to engage their own communities, if you can; I’ve had a little success in this thanks to my mother engaging her fellow quilters).

But, regardless, these sorts of communities are pretty good targets for trying to build that word-of-mouth marketing in… but there is a reason I chose the word “communities” instead of “social groups.”

…DOESN’T NECESSARILY WORK FOR OTHERS

Those “social groups?”  Well… “social” implies “social media,” and advertising on social media is… well… it may work for some people, but for a lot of writers it’s just a waste of time.

I have seen — and been on — Facebook groups which do nothing but send out book promo after book promo.  Initially, I thought these sorts of groups might garner at least a few sales — they had thousands of members each.  After months (I sometimes have… stubbourness issues) of getting the same book covers in my Facebook feed over and over and over again, at least weekly if not multiple times a day, I came to realize that these groups weren’t working.  They may have thousands of members, but all those members are other authors hoping to plug their own books, and no-one actually joined them looking for new books… or if they did, they probably got so overwhelmed by people flooding the feed that it all becomes a big white noise, and little if nothing ever gets sold from it.

And just as bad as being lost in a crowd is being the only one in the room.  If you are attempting a “promotional discount” and no-one is around to see it, you’re probably not going to gain anything out of the promo.

Promos in places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble can be very effective; there are a lot of people casually browsing the lists on those sites, and if that isn’t enough you can try boosting attention to your discount promotion by bringing in Bookbub or someone like that.  A Bookbub advertisement during an Amazon promotion is known to earn authors hundreds of sales.

But not all bookstores are created the same.  Take, for example, Libiro.  I like Libiro — they are a bookstore fully committed to indies; they’ve built a good author dashboard, they have sales terms that are a little better than Amazon’s, and they make discount promotions just a couple clicks away — no questions (or exclusivity requirements) asked!

But…

Libiro is a very small operation.  While it’s been around a few years, now, it’s still very much in the start-up phase when it comes to attracting a native customer base; I hope it will continue to grow until it becomes a popular place to go looking for books, but it isn’t there yet.  People generally don’t usually go there to browse; they go, for the most part, already there knowing what they’re going to buy.  The very few who browse its virtual shelves probably won’t catch anything that isn’t already one of Libiro’s best sellers or is a new release.

So, suppose you use Libiro’s very simple-to-use tools and set up a half-off sale.  Bookbub and similar advertising sites might very well not know Libiro exists.  There are very few people just browsing that store at any given moment.  That means if you have a promotional discount on Libiro, no-one is going to know about it unless you are the person to tell them.  It won’t grow your customer base (or fanbase, if you prefer) at all; the one thing it might do is get the “fence sitters” within your existing reach to finally buy a copy.

A third option that might work for a few people, but won’t work for most, are Youtube trailers.  If you’re unfamiliar with Youtube trailers, here is an example:

So… I suppose if you were an avid reader of the previous books in the series, this might interest you.  Maybe.  But only if you actually saw the ad….

A Youtube trailer is an interesting concept — sort of like a television ad for your book.  But said youtube trailer suffers the same problem as your book does:  No-one will see it unless you push it, same as with your book.  And you need it to be interesting enough so that if people do see it, they’re willing to buy it (and you have to assume that both the book and you are unfamiliar to the viewer, mind you).  Frankly, you’re better off pushing your book directly than a youtube video.

Of course, it might work for some people.  If they do it right.  If you make a very interesting trailer, and somehow manage to get buzz about it, you might generate sales from it.  Generally, that only works if you are able to get your trailer on a popular youtube channel that your target audience is already a part of… and trust me, a youtube channel that shows nothing but book trailers isn’t going to do it.  No, you want it on a channel that people actually visit and watch… or you want someone that big to link to it.

For the least offensive of all possible examples of how it might work: If you have written a Japanese cookbook, and you somehow manage to get enough of an endorsement from Cooking With Dog (this is a real Youtube channel that deals with Japanese cooking; as far as I know, they don’t endorse cookbooks, nor are they interested in doing so; note that over one million subscribers watch that channel — that number is partly why I picked them) that they will link to your cookbook’s trailer, it might be somewhat effective (you might get 1% of their viewers to click through to your site, and maybe 1% of those will buy it… which could get you one hundred sales).  If the only person who shares your cookbook video is the “Flood Viewers With Boring Book Trailers” channel (doesn’t really exist; if it did, any subscribers it would have would likely be bots or authors looking for their own works.  Which may number in the thousands, but no-one would click through), it won’t do any good at all.

Basically, what I’m saying with all of these methods is that the way most people do them, they won’t do you any good; they are effectively invisible (either because no-one is there or because they get lost in the crowd).  Unfortunely, people keep trying them because they’ve heard they were the “secret of success.”  And when they try it, they do it wrong… and sometimes, even if they do it right, it won’t work because it almost never works… even if it used to.

THINGS THAT USED TO WORK

The landscape of marketing has changed significantly over the years.  In the six weeks since I’ve started this blog series, Amazon has redesigned the Kindle Unlimited program’s paying structure, started stricter enforcement of certain aspects of its review policy, and has opened a one hour same-day delivery service in select cities (London has it, I think, for example).  All of these things could change how effective your marketing are, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on things.

The only thing about marketing you can say for sure is that it’s changing.  There are a lot of things you’ll read about working, or will have demonstrably see working once, that do not work any more (at least not like they used to).

For example, it used to be that you could price your book “free” on Amazon, and without any further promotion hundreds if not thousands of people would download it.  Those downloads used to boost your sales ranking, so a free day could boost you onto a bestseller list or three, and a lot of book browsers go through the bestseller lists.  A day of free giveaways could result in hundreds of sales across the rest of the week.

But then Amazon changed things; “buying” a free book no longer counted as a sale.  Suddenly, giving away free copies over Amazon became less attractive.  I was hanging around indie publishing Facebook groups and blogs at the time that change was made, and it took almost a year before some people figured it out (even after the announcement).  And still people promote their free days far heavier than they do their discount days.

Now, free books are still able to do something for your marketing.  Sometimes.  You might be able to get a few reviews from it, though those are hard to predict at best.  Make the first book of a long series free, and that can encourage people to buy the rest of the series.

Some book promotional sites will only advertise your book when it is free, and while you get no visibility boost on Amazon from these promotions, there is still a lingering period of a sales boost… but that usually comes from people who got the promo in the e-mail, but lingered too long and didn’t take advantage of it.  Personally, I think advertising somewhere that won’t even let you use a discount price promotion instead of a free promotion isn’t going to help you… unless you combine it with the “first book in a series” strategy mentioned above.

Another thing authors have tried as promotion that used to work — at least, it did some thirty years ago, long before eBooks made self-publishing a practical and viable solution, but authors of all origins still try it today — is sending cheap swag to bookstores.  Now, in this case what I mean by “cheap swag” is postcards, bookmarks, business cards, maybe even small catalogs.  Once upon a time, bookstores made their midlist book purchase decisions based on such things… but no longer.  Most bookstores recieve hundreds, if not thousands, of such mailings every day… and most of them just throw these things out, unread.

If you’re a local author and you’ve convinced an independent bookstore to carry your book on its shelves, you might be able to talk the cashier into putting your business card or bookmark on the counter at the checkout line, but don’t bother sending these things to them in the mail.

That’s not to say getting such things printed is worthless.  It’s always nice to have a business card, for a variety of reasons (and one of these days, I’ll actually get one printed and find all of the errors in the e-mail and web addresses before I start trying to give them away.  *sigh*).  Business cards, post cards, bookmarks, and the like are especially useful at any conventions you might attend — there is almost always somewhere where you can put such things out for free, and there are almost always a few attendees who will grab as many different pieces of promotional junk as possible while at a convention (I know; I’m one of those people).  Sometimes, those will even result in a few sales.

And, of course, T-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, and other “more expensive” types of swag are helpful, as well.  If people buy these things with your logo or book cover on them (or even get them for free, sometimes, but giving these sorts of things away en masse can easily cost you more than you gain from it), it might interest friends, co-workers, etc.  Basically, the people who get such things become walking billboards for your books whenever they use them… at least, as long as they are in public.  (Giving swag to recluses might not do much for you, in other words.  Selling them or giving them to the people at your author table at a convention, however, might be… even if some of your fans are recluses).

Which brings up book signings (it does?  Well, we’ll get there).  Once upon a time publishers or agents would schedule book signings for their authors.  Then they would run publicity for the event, which tended to make the author look like a celebrity in the public’s eye.  These resulted in a lot of people getting in line to buy the book and have him sign it — because hey, who doesn’t want a celebrity’s autograph, right?  Some of those people would read the book and mention it to their friends.  Others wouldn’t read the book, but would still mention it to their friends because, “hey, I met a celebrity at the bookstore!”  Instant word-of-mouth promotion for your book.

Well, bookstores still do book signings, and sometimes publishers or agents will even make the arrangements.  But that’s as far as they go; any publicity is generated for the signing is incidental, often consisting of a mention on a website or a single facebook and\or twitter post.  That means book signings are no longer the celebrity spectacle they once were; and by themselves, without that publicity, you’d be lucky to have a single person come for your signing… unless the author already has enough of a fanbase to draw people in by their mere presence (and once people see a crowd of fans, it generates the same effect as the old publicity machines did… though on a smaller scale)

Note that I’m not saying that book signings are worthless, but they aren’t really of any value unless something is done to encourage people to see the author as someone whose signature is worth having, or unless someone is really pushing things.  I know of one local bookstore that really likes to promote local writers.  Even though it is primarily a used book store, it has a small section that is dedicated to selling new books from local (including indie) authors.

They also really like having author signings.  They think (intelligently, in my opinion) that a good author signing will draw customers to the store, so they help push that author as well.  They co-ordinate these author signings with a monthly town-wide event (“Leesburg First Fridays“) to double-down on the promotion.  They encourage the author to push, as well, and the end result is something of a mild success.

And here is where the swag I was talking about comes into play:  Signings — if you can get people to come to them — are one of the best places to give away your swag.  People at a signing event are usually quite happy to recieve a baseball cap, shirt, novelty pen, coffee mug, etc., and (at least if it’s in the cap-shirt-mug range) will gladly display those things to their co-workers and friends by wearing or using them.  Like I said, they become walking, talking billboards for your book.

Of course, even if you can arrange a signing at your local bookstore, there’s no guarantee they will do as much as mine does.  But if you can arrange for a ‘draw’ for your signing beyond just, well, you (sorry, but in most cases, you are not enough of a draw on your own), you might be able to get something out of it.  Not as much as you used to, but something.

Despite the name of this section, many of these things can still work… but where they once worked for almost every writer, now they only work if you do them the right way, and\or sometimes only if you have specific opportunities that aren’t necessarily open to everyone, and\or only if you use a specific business model, and\or only if you target things just right, and\or only if you’re lucky.  So you have to decide whether you want to spend

THINGS THAT REALLY DO ALWAYS WORK…SORT OF

Okay, so I’ve gotten this far by insisting that there is nothing that works all of the time.  I still assert that’s true, but there are a few things you can do that make all forms of marketing that much more effective.  That are marketing tools, in and of themselves.

For example, it’s extremely important to set up your categories and keywords correct.  The keywords are important because they allow your book to be found in searches.  However, they’re also important (at least on Amazon) because they can get your book entered into more than the two categories, if you pick the right keywords.

And you want your book in as many categories as possible.  Every category it’s listed in is another bestseller list you have a chance to show up on, and that makes it all the more visible for the casual browsers.  (Please don’t try promoting your book by trumpeting your rank on these bestseller lists too much — depending on the list, you could be making one sale every three days and still in the top hundred.  Pushing the idea that you’re a “bestseller” because you’re on one of these lists is not only dishonest, your customers will know you’re dishonest because disreputable self-publishers have tried this before.  It can only hurt you, so don’t do it)

It helps to build a fanbase (you’ll often see this called a “platform” in articles about the business) even before you publish your first book.  It doesn’t matter how you build this fanbase — writing fanfiction, doing a political blog, making funny youtube videos, etc. — but having a pre-existing fanbase to market to will help you a lot.  Easier said than done, I know, but it doesn’t have to be a very large fanbase, and while it can really jump-start your success, it isn’t absolutely necessary.  With one, and applying a few of the other marketing techniques I mentioned, you might be able to get enough sales together to start hitting those category bestselling lists.

But there are some things that if you don’t do them, there’s very little chance your marketing will be effective.  The first is — WRITE A GOOD BOOK!  If you don’t do that, no matter how many people you attract to read it, you won’t have any repeat customers.  Go back to part one of this series and look up everything I said (and everything else you can find) on how to make sure your book is well-edited, as well.  A good book gets you good reviews, which will attract other customers.  A poor product makes all of your other marketing efforts useless.  You’d be surprised how many people self-publishing books don’t think this matters.

The second thing is — GET DECENT COVER ART!  I know people say “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but I’m sorry — that’s just what readers do.  Now, you don’t need it to be ‘award winning,’ but it does need to look professional.  If your cover art doesn’t look to be of professional quality, potential readers will assume the book wasn’t written by a professional, and therefore are less likely to buy it.  Your marketing efforts won’t be worth anything if your cover scares away all your customers.

Oh, and make sure your book is, you know, actually available for sale where someone might buy it.  Don’t go exclusive to someplace like “All Romance EBooks” unless you’ve written a romance novel (and even then, I would advise against exclusivity with them).  I know there seems to be a segment of the publishing community who simply cannot comprehend the idea that Amazon could potentially do things good for the publishing industry, but excluding Amazon from your sales plan is like cutting off your nose to spite your face, as the saying goes.

Finally, write more.  I’m a bad example at this, because I’ve been so slow about releasing my latest couple of books, but I’m convinced that the best way to market one book is to release the next one.  And then release the one after that.  And then the one after that.

The theory is that, with each new release, you have old people who’ve followed you, before, buy the new book, and new people discovering your writing for the first time going back and reading your other work.  That’s probably the case, but regardless — every new book is a new revenue stream.  With more books, you can do more creative marketing (like reducing the price of the first book in a long series, or making it free, in the hopes that new readers will enjoy it and buy the rest of the series).  With more money, you can afford better adverting, possibly better covers, more and\or better editors, etc.

If you get your keywords straight, get your book into the right categories, have an existing fanbase, write a good book, give it a decent cover, and put it up for sale where people might see it, whatever marketing techniques you apply just might work.  Repeat a few times, and things can really get going.  Heck, you just might be able to generate a decent number of sales without any additional marketing, if you’ve got all that.

THINGS I’D LIKE TO TRY SOME DAY

Now, there are things I’ve heard are effective that I would like to try some day and haven’t.  Some of those are things I’ve already mentioned:  I would like to participate in a multi-author anthology (I had one opportunity, once, but I was not in a position, at the time, to do so).  I would like to be able to get a book trailer on youtube, done in a fun and interesting way and linked to from (perhaps) a youtube celebrity.  I would like to be a full-fledged guest at a convention (and not just a single-panel panelist).

But there are other things which I’ve never tried and can’t find enough information on to tell whether they’d be good marketing opportunities or not.  In some cases, I’m not even sure how I’d go about doing them… but I think they’d work, if I could.  And some of them just sound fun.

For example, I would like to be able to get a group of local indie authors together and have the bunch of us go to, say, the regional manager for Safeway (and possibly Harris Teeter and Wegmans) and see if we can get print editions of our books into their stores.  The stores in this area have fairly decent book sections (similar to Walmart’s reputed book sections, in some respect)… and, at one point, the local Safeway had a section intended for “local authors.”  Since they had trouble distinguishing local authors from national authors while buying solely from Big-5 publishers, that section languished until it was eventually re-labeled for something else… but I know there are enough local indie authors that it could have been a lot more successful if we had been included.  However, approaching them as a single author, alone, probably wouldn’t be enough to get them to re-open it.

Would it work?  I don’t know.  If it did, would it generate any significant sales?  Again, I don’t know.  But I would like to find out some day.

Also, I would like to know if getting a quote from a “Big Name Author” for the cover of my book(s) does anything for sales.  I’ve heard it can, but I don’t know if that’s true any more — especially for eBook sales.  But I would like to find out — I just don’t know who to go to that might give me one, or how to approach them.

Book clubs, perhaps?  Wikipedia suggests there are two types, and of those to I am not talking about the “Book Sales Clubs” (I would consider sites like Oyster, Scribd, and Kindle Unlimited an outgrowth of such clubs; the original being the “Book of the Month” club that Random Penguin-owner Bertelsmann originally built its publishing empire on before abandoning just a few years ago).  In its original form, this is the realm of the Trade publisher; I’m sure a group of indies could manage such a thing, but I’m not sure why one would not that the “evolved” forms of such a thing are out there, and are widely open to indie publishers.

I’m talking about getting some “Book Discussion Clubs” to buy copies of my book.  In theory, it would mean a number of initial purchases and, considering the reputed purpose behind such clubs, a lot of word-of-mouth publicity.  But does it actually work like that?  And how would I, as an indie writer, get my book considered for a group like that?  And if I could, are those groups large enough to make a significant difference?  I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’d like to find out.

If I could find the time, I would like to take one of my books and turn it into a game with something like RPG Maker.  I suppose some writers are able to sell the rights to a software developer and get them to create a game for them, which can net the author significant money, but the rights to every book cannot be sold in that way.  But I could make the game, myself, and distribute it freely, and use the game to build interest in the book… (and its sequels).  With a video game version of my novels, I could make use of some of the alternate paths and alternate endings I had considered and later discarded.  While something like RPG Maker would be a good shortcut, it would take a LOT of time and effort to complete (which is why whole software development companies can be formed around a single game, sometimes), and I’m not sure the cost-benefit ratio would be worth it, even in the long run.  I would like to find out, some day, though.

I want to be more creative in my marketing; to come up with ideas that others haven’t.  But I don’t have the time, or the connections, or the finances, or even the number of titles needed to do all the things I want to try.

I still need time to write, after all.

THE RULE OF TEN

The problem with marketing, in part, is that it takes time from things you’re better off doing — like writing.  It takes time and effort to build your platform, time and money to get advertising, time and skill to put together a book trailer, time and charisma to get your print book in bookstores and libraries where it can be visible, time and energy to go to a convention, etc., etc.

But if you can get yourself and\or your books to a certain point, the rest is effectively automatic; you don’t really need to do any more marketing for that book.  At least not until the next one in the series comes out, anyway.

I would like to call this the “Rule of Ten.”

If you can get ten reviews, you can start placing your book on advertising sites like the Fussy Librarian and similar easy-to-use marketing ventures, without having to wait to be approved like at Bookbub.

If you can get ten sales on Amazon, your book starts showing up on Amazon’s “Also-bot” lists.  That means Amazon starts doing a little marketing for you, and hey — who doesn’t like someone else doing your marketing for you?

If you can get ten sales in one day on Amazon, you’ll start hitting most of those genre bestseller lists.  That, again, boosts visibility and is “free” marketing.

If you can find ten people who are consistantly willing to boost your signal unsolicited, you probably don’t have to go chasing down advertisements at all — that’s your word-of-mouth advertising, for nothing.

If you can get your book on the shelves of ten bookstores and get them selling, you can probably get these bookstores to start shelving your books without having to make in-store visits; all you need to do is let the bookstore know your next book is out and they’ll shelve it based on their past sales (I have to admit, I haven’t managed this one, yet, but I’ve been assured this is true).

Finally, if you can get ten backlist (“I’m no longer advertising these”) novels all are selling just an average of two to three copies a day, each,  (a realistic number, based on what mid-list indie writer (and incoming SFWA Vice-President) MCA Hogarth has said she gets from her indie writing), you’re pretty darned close to earning a living wage (in some parts of the country) from your backlist alone.

CONCLUSION

And that’s the end… not just of this blog post, but the entire series.  There are edits to make (sigh… remember, still learning WordPress, here).  There are lots of things I didn’t think to cover (such as audiobooks, which I have no experience in and didn’t have on my outline), and other things I know I could have gone into more detail on (such as book design… though there’s a whole blog on the topic by someone more experienced in the field than me.  Oh — marketing opportunity:  If you have a new release with a good book cover, check out his monthly EBook Cover Design Awards).  There are some things I just didn’t have enough experience to feel comfortable discussing (like translations, or dealing with foriegn markets, or… well, any number of things, really).

And things change fast.  In the six weeks since I started this blog, there have been three big things happen that could completely change everything:  (1) Amazon changed the Kindle Unlimited payout system.  (2) Amazon began stricter enforcement of its review policy.  And (3) the Nook ebook store shut down its international market.  Those are all pretty big, but just how they will change the business hasn’t been fully seen, yet.

So, some day, if there’s interest, maybe I’ll write an epilog to this series.  Something like “Everything I Forgot To Cover In The Self-Publishing Roundtable, And The Stuff That’s Changed.”

If anyone’s interested, that is.

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