Book Marketing

While book marketing is very important, especially for the self publisher, it is not the first step of selling your book. There are several steps that must be considered first. But before we even get there we need to straighten out the concepts of "marketing" and "promotion" as contrary to popular use, they are not the same thing.

Most people have book marketing confused with book promotion and many people even use the two words interchangeably. But they are definitely not the same thing.

But let's start with where you as an author want to wind up - sold books, lots of sold books - and we'll circle back to see where book marketing and book promotion fit into this whole business.

Selling your book is what it's all about. That should be "books", plural.

If you thought it was hard selling your manuscript to an editor wait till you try selling it to a prospective reader.
book marketing
Self publishing is not a silver bullet. It won't solve your problems as a writer, if anything it could only make them worse. And here is where the problem starts.

We writers have a built in protective mechanism - it's called an "ego".
book marketing
Anyone that has been writing (or trying to write) for any amount of time has convinced themselves that they are a "terrific" writer. And they probably have a little support group consisting of a handful of friends and a relative or two (maybe even their mother) who feeds that ego by saying nice things about their writing.
book marketing
And that's a good thing, because writing is tough. We need a little encouragement. There you are, all alone, with nothing but you and the blank page staring back at you and you know that somehow you have to keep going and get some words down on that page. There is no "boss" demanding that X number of pages has to be done before 5pm or you're going to get fired. The cell phone rings and it's your best friend so you can "take a break". And then well, "I'll just take a stroll to the kitchen and get a fresh cup of coffee", and pet the cat along the way, and I'm feeling hungry, so where's the potato chips, etc., etc. Life's little distractions just constantly get in the way, and the next thing you know a week's gone buy and you're still on that same half-blank page.

But you keep telling yourself that you "like to write", and you write "really well". And your ego keeps you propped up. Because you just know down in your bones that when you get this manuscript done some editor is going to snap it and stuff your pockets full of long green spendable cash.

But you finally finish the thing (maybe 2-3 years later) and then you get up the nerve to send out the never ending stream of "query letters" with the self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) at almost $.50 cents apiece and the rejection letters start trickling back (3 months later) but they aren't even "letters" more like one line "thanks but no thanks" tenth generation copies of scraps of paper.

It's about this time that we frustrated writers start thinking about self publishing.

Get the truth about self publishing below.

book marketing
"To hell with those editors and publishers!" we say to ourselves. "What the hell do they know anyway? They didn't even "read" my manuscript and they are rejecting it."

And we get the idea that we can just bypass the whole "conventional publishing" thing and just self publish our great, wonderful, stupendous book. "We'll publish the book ourselves! We'll show those idiots a thing or two. It's their loss!"

You see, our ego (which has sustained us for years) is still hard at work protecting our fragile self image from the hard realities of the world.

And some of us jump through the hoops of formatting our books for Kindle or even publishing through Lulu or CreateSpace and then sit back and wait for the cash register to ring.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of self published writers this is where the hard truth of the marketplace begins to set in. The average book at Lulu and the like sells just 10 copies - this is a sad fact. Because the cash register doesn't just magically start ringing up sales of their books because they put it there. There's a lot more to it.
book marketing
And even if they are selling a dozen e-books at $.99 cents each, selling 7 books a week won't even pay their internet bill.

So, what went wrong?
book marketing
What went wrong? Unfortunately there's a long list of things that went wrong - starting with the failure to recognize this writing thing is a BUSINESS.

Somehow this simple fact evaded them (myself included).

They got a bright idea and just started slinging words down on paper figuring that if they just kept at it - sooner or later - they would have a book. And aspiring writers also reasoned that if they enjoyed writing it then other people would equally enjoy reading it. And the reasoning continues with the idea that if the book just arrives on a book shelf or website that AUTOMATICALLY (as if by magic) people will buy it - and tell all their friends.
book marketing
The sad fact is that it doesn't work that way - none of it.

Book marketing is one of the last steps of a complete business model that a writer must have if he is going to succeed in this business.

The components of this business model look like this:

  1. Story Conception
  2. Story Design
  3. Story Composition
  4. Story Editing
  5. Proofreading
  6. Book Marketing (This is where the manuscript gets turned into a salable product (a book). Including cover design, page layout, front and back matter, binding and trim size, etc. This sequence of process is what is commonly known as "Publishing". This applies whether self or conventional publishing is used)
  7. Distribution
  8. Promotion
  9. Sales
Marketing, book marketing or otherwise, is where something is packaged into a salable product. Marketing is that whole process of taking something, even as common as milk from a cow, and putting it in a package, giving it a brand name, and everything else that must be done to make it look like something, something that the public might be convinced to part with their hard earned money for.
book marketing
Distribution then takes those cartons of milk (or books) and arranges to have them displayed on grocery (or bookstore) shelves so that they can be picked up and bought by end consumers (book readers).

Promotion on the other hand starts where Distribution leaves off. Promotion gets the word out, through any and all means by telling people why they should go into the store and buy that brand of milk (or brand of book). Promotion gets people interested; it creates DEMAND for the product.
book marketing
If everything else is working - and only to the degree that everything else is working - Sales happen. This applies to cartons of milk just as surely as books.

There are 8 steps or processes that come before and determine the level of SALES. It's a chain and the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Step 6 is Book Marketing. And while packaging can make the raw manuscript look pretty and inviting; no amount of marketing can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

The vast majority of books, whether self published or conventionally published, fail at steps 1, 2 and 3. If it's a poorly conceived story, with a flawed or nonexistent design and poorly composed - no amount of book marketing will save it. This combination leaves the product Dead On Arrival, no matter the format, distribution channel or price. It won't sell. Consumers, book readers in particular, are not stupid or patient. They will not long endure a poorly conceived, poorly designed or poorly composed novel. And if the writer puts such a novel on the distribution channels and someone does buy it, they'll tell their friends about it, all right - but it won't be anything good. Bad news travels fast.

Book Marketing (even self publishing) Distribution, Promotion and Sales will consume more time and money than it took to write the bloody book in the first place. So if you're going to make that investment, you better make sure it's a damn good book or you're just wasting your efforts.

Worse still, you're running the risk of giving your "brand" a black eye.

Long before you get to book marketing.

You need to write well

Write on...

Richard A. McCullough

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