Writer Wednesday—The Cost of Doing Business

There’s a lot of debate and discussion about how best to promote one’s books, and it mostly centers around cash. If you have a product, aka a book, that you’re trying to sell, you’re in business.

As the old adage says, “You have to spend money to make money.”

There are two basic ways to promote and market your book:

Pay someone to do it.

Do it yourself.

I know quite a few authors who opt for the first, and I don’t quite understand why. You could pay someone to market your book if you had a lot of spare cash sitting around, or if you have better things to do with your time.

For myself, I definitely qualify in the second way, but certainly not in the first.

Plus, I like to be hands-on. No one is going to do for my book what *I* am going to do. They just won’t care “enough.”

The biggest problem with paying someone is knowing what or if they actually accomplish. Now, if you pay someone to promote and market and your sales suddenly zoom up, that’s wonderful! But what if they don’t? Either the company/person you paid didn’t do anything, or enough, or your book stinks.

But maybe your book doesn’t stink. Maybe they just took your money.

No, I don’t know which companies are good and which are bad. Consult Preditors and Editors. I know authors who claim to have had good experiences with bad companies, too. But I have to wonder if their idea of “good” is the same as mine . . .

What bothers me is the amount of money these companies, good and bad, often charge to do the same things YOU could do, for free.

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between “promotion” and “marketing.” Promotion is where you put out reminders about your book, so no one forgets about it. Marketing means you are actively pursuing sales channels.

No one should pay for promotion, not with the availability of social media. But you have to be visible—and that means opening up those privacy settings. Your friends are going to get mighty tired of hearing about your book, plus you can’t take advantage of all that “six degrees of separation:” if no one can easily share your promo posts, no one will see them.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to 2,999 “friends.” Quality is often overlooked in favor of quantity. All those “like me and I’ll like you” invites may garner a couple sales, but it’s really just a trade-off of people trying to up their numbers. I’ll let anyone follow me on Twitter, for example, because all kinds of people read books—but that doesn’t mean I’ll follow them back. This isn’t grade school, after all.

Another thing that authors often do is join groups. Writing groups, author groups, etc. Again, be choosy. How many groups can you realistically keep up with? How much of your time is spent being “social?” Which ones have the most value for you?

The trap you may fall into is promoting and marketing ONLY or MOST OFTEN to other authors. This is like going to a conference and trading books or buying the book of everyone who buys yours. You might get home and say, “Wow, I sold 20 books!” Yes, but you also BOUGHT 20 books, most of which you probably won’t read and therefore won’t tell anyone about either. Exactly what the others are saying/doing.

Sure, writers and authors read books. But it’s a big world out there. Don’t make the mistake of thinking TOO local . . . social media or in real life.

Read my marketing book when you have a chance. It’s there, in plain English: find your target reader.




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