If you’ve read my post on the long tail of book marketing, you’ll see that I advocate the slower road to publishing success. Discounting rare phenomenon such as the 50 Shades’ palaver, a hard, bitter, but realistic pill for new authors to contemplate is that they may never reach global notoriety.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be a success. Connecting, through their words, with just one reader would light the fire of many authors, and be enough merit for their effort, because most don’t enter the industry for fame and fortune. Or so they’ve told me.
If most authors are happy ‘just writing’, tell me: why do so many insist on bending the truth when promoting their book? At what point does this desperation to be noticed set in?
I’ve been closely watching someone in my network bend the truth, promise the earth, and take shortcuts to find any kind of visibility. Often it’s been with a smile, as I know that, despite the initial spark of interest their efforts may realise, the substance underneath all their pontificating and exaggerating is seriously below par. That’s the real reason they’re not seeing success but, as their attempts to be noticed become more and more desperate, they seem increasingly blinkered (or unconcerned, perhaps?) as to why they’re being ignored.
Buying followers on social media, they believe, bumps their numbers up, but when anyone clicks on their followers’ list, they’re faced with soulless, empty profiles. On the surface, it makes them look more popular; in reality, these fake profiles are no more a buyer for their books than my dog.
Claiming thousands of downloads sounds impressive, but figures were calculated when their book was free – something they seem reluctant to point out in the same brag. When used strategically, the ‘try me free’ can be a useful tool in an author’s box; however, when people fail to follow up from their freebie with a genuine, unbiased or disinterested review – or the purchase of book two/three/four – what does this initiative bring?
Talking about the importance of reader connection on social media is belittled when their next fifty Tweets talk ‘at’ the public, asking them to: buy the book, review the book, share the post. Ultimately, why the hell should they?! The whole aim of ‘reader connection’ is involvement, inticement, engagement. If you have to ask your reader for something, do it AFTER they’re engaged.
All this leads me to believe there’s even more call for the authentic author. Not just authentic through the words in their book, but in their actions, post-release. Authors with the confidence that their book is an excellent product in its own right, that warrants little or no promotion.
Of course, in an ideal world, these works would be seen no matter what, but I admit, there is a problem with noise throughout the literary world. However, my advice in this regard is not to join in, not to try and shout louder, but to build your foundations quietly, with respect, with confidence and with some integrity: authenticity rules.
Both online and offline, aim to reach a target market, not a mass one – the smaller the better, really. Your readers aren’t to be sold to, they’re people that deserve your respect for their literary tastes and choice. Be humble that they’ve found you, thankful that they’re choosing to follow you, subservient to their wants and needs.
Instead of asking them for a review for the world’s benefit, start a dialogue – a conversation – about what it was they liked (or disliked) about your book. Use this to improve your writing skills and to identify the common threads your readers mention. These are the USPs to produce when you do talk about your book – but only, through research, to people interested in hearing about them. You’re there to do your readers’ work… they don’t have to try to find good reads.
Keep in touch, but not just to flog things. Ask them about their day, their amibitions, whatever – just encourage them to respond. It’s relationships that will see your platform grow, not the amount of Tweets you spout to strangers or the discounts you offer. Let’s face it, there’s more free content out there than any one reader can get through in their lifetime – you’ve to make readers feel really special if they’re to invest their attention and money towards you.
Authenticity cannot be bought. Confidence is not hiding in your activity if you insist on talking at people. And whatever marketing you do, if your product’s not up to scratch, the short-term interest/hits will fade away as time marches on. A good book has to be the starting point for any author.
Be prepared to stick your neck out. Don’t piggyback on someone else’s ideas. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion, carve out space for your voice. Don’t spend your time trying to pull the wool over your readers’ eyes; put that energy and effort into writing books that sell themselves. Authentic, unique stories that will see your readers wanting to help you, leave them wanting more, more, more.
There are no short-cuts.
Developmental editor and publishing consultant Diane Hall is the author of three books; she has also ghost-written books for others and created a plethora of content, on more subjects than you could care to imagine, for numerous clients since the beginning of her career. She is proud to have fundamentally shaped series of books and more than a hundred individual titles over the last decade with various authors, nationally and internationally.
Among her editing qualifications, she holds a linguistics diploma, which involves the study of language and speech. Diane employs this knowledge in the forensic linguistic work she sometimes undertakes.
Diane has seen the introduction and subsequent rise of self-publishing, and passionately keeps abreast of its disruption of the publishing industry. She is a thought leader when it comes to the future of book marketing, fuelled by the poor results authors see when employing traditional techniques.