The holiday gift-buying rush is upon us, and it's always the time of year when authors try to get a couple of last-minute sales under their belts. Heck, if you haven't checked out my noir mystery novel about a New York City alley cat titled Marked Territory or my sword and sorcery adventure Crier's Knife, they'd be ideal for some of the folks on your gift list!
The intro sort of illustrates my point, though. There's only so much you can do as an author to be successful... and there's no guarantee that even if you push all the right buttons that you're going to get the result you're shooting for.
|Just a few more social media posts... surely that will do it...|
Authors Depend on You
I'm going to start this off by saying that if you are an author, you have to tic all the boxes on the checklist that you can. You need to write a good book. You need an eye-catching cover. You need to cultivate your social media presence, and if possible build yourself a platform. Whether it's a blog, a YouTube channel, an Instagram page, you need some way to reach more people. You should probably have a mailing list as well (speaking of, sign up for The Literary Mercenary's newsletter to get weekly updates on all my releases), ensuring you can reach people without depending on the algorithms that run social media and search engines. You need to try to boost your own signal as best you can, and to do everything possible within your control.
|But none of that will get us anywhere without a hand up from you.|
With that said, though, at the end of the day we can shotgun blast our books all over every corner of the Internet. We can buy ads on the most popular social media platforms, hire companies to boost our signal, fill up forums with comments, spam our links into bookmarking sites, and shout from the highest rooftops... and when all is said and done not move a single copy of our books.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Part of it is that unless you're already famous, your voice gets drowned out pretty easily. Another part of it is that people basically discount anyone who is obviously trying to sell them something. Whether it's people who avoid looking at your table at a convention, or who down vote you for "spamming" your book on a group, no one wants to listen to your self-promotion. It's almost a conditioned response; like how you used to immediately get up to go to the bathroom as soon as a commercial came on TV, and you blocked out whatever product was being sold.
But do you know what happens as soon as you start talking about our books? People listen.
|The human mind is both amazing, and dumb.|
It sounds stupid, but it's true. I could deliver the most carefully crafted sales pitch in the world, but a majority of people who hear it are immediately going to ignore it because I'm, "just trying to sell copies of my book." But if you say to your friend, your co-worker, your siblings, or your spouse, "Hey, this was a really good book. You should read it!" they're going to weigh your opinions far more heavily than they do mine.
Why? Well, because they have a personal connection to you. Not only that, but because you stand nothing to gain by saying this book was great, so why wouldn't they trust you?
This is why having good reviews on websites matters (that, and if you have 50 reviews or more your book gets its signal boosted in places like Amazon). It's why you sharing a link on your Facebook wall or your Twitter feed matters. And if you have a platform of your own, whether it's a blog, a YouTube channel, or even a podcast, using that to big-up the signal of a writer you know is what we need to actually reach potential readers.
We could be the most brilliant campaign designers out there. We could ensure our books are visible, and that our ads show up everywhere. We can use all the keywords we want to make sure we get steady streams of eyeballs... but none of that is going to be as effective as you telling people in your friends group and/or your audience that we wrote something good.
Because they know you. They trust you. And the easiest way to get them to know and trust us as authors is to vouch for us. Get your friends to give us a chance, because they aren't going to take us on our own merits even if we do actually write exactly the sort of things they'd love to read.
Please. We're sort of depending on you.
Like, Follow, and Stay Tuned!
That's all for this week's Business of Writing! If you'd like to see more of my work, take a look at my Vocal archive, or at My Amazon Author Page where you can find books like my noir thriller Marked Territory, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife as well as my recent collection The Rejects!