The really weird thing about book marketing
I’ll admit it, I’m new at this game.
I started as a writer, editor and then book cover designer.
I didn’t really want to be involved in book promotion or author marketing services.
Because it’s tough to make guarantees and success ultimately comes down to the quality of the book – something I have no control over. And if I can’t control successful book promotion – how could I charge for it?
This moral dilemma doesn’t seem to phase other book marketers; they usually have disclaimer saying they don’t make any guarantees. They’ll do the work, but they don’t know what’s going to happen.
And that makes sense once you understand what book marketing really is.
It used to be – before the internet – about getting in touch with people and getting them to write about or share the book.
But now, it’s almost entirely:
1. Creating a professional online platform (website, social media, etc.)
2. Getting TRAFFIC to said platform.
Those are the things that a book publicist has to do, before they even attempt to let other people know about the book – because if you have an ugly website or social media profiles with only 17 followers you and your book will be dismissed. Nobody will take you seriously. Sure you can still sell the shit out of your book yourself, on Amazon, and then other people will want to share it (not that you’ll need it by then). And that’s really what you should be focused on.
Does anybody really know what they’re doing?
But building up a professional author platform isn’t really marketing. I can make you look amazing online but it won’t necessarily bring you any traffic; and it may not necessarily make your book successful (it might – short term, until you start getting negative reviews because the hype set high reader expectations and they felt disappointed by content. After that… you’re screwed).
And because book marketing is such a strange gray area, a sea of “who the hell knows what’s doing on in reader’s minds” there tends to be only a few kinds of book marketing services.
The High End
Services that start around $2000 and go up to $20,000.
For someone with a big following who is sure to move 50,000 copies and make 100K the first week, paying for marketing is a no brainer. Send $5000 and sell 10,000 more books? Sure.
Or for someone with a lot of money who isn’t worried about the sales but the prestige of publishing. So they want to sell 50,000 copies even if they lose money, because they can’t afford people to say their book wasn’t a bestseller, and they are going to use the book to build their income in other ways.
The Low End
The low end is generally under $100.
It’s for the tens of thousands of indie authors who are writing as a hobby and hope to make money with it but have no idea what to do.
But here’s where it gets interesting: people who really know how to market books and make you successful aren’t going to waste their time on things that don’t earn money. They’re smart. They have lots of ways to make money. So the low services are usually set up by people running a small home-based business who have figured some stuff out and are trying to make money.
Some of what they do is useful; but it’s usually a numbers game – they make money by bringing in lots of new money, doing blasts or systematizing things so it’s quick and easy. But those kind of ‘by the numbers’ book marketing, that promotes every book in every genre the same way to the same people is unlikely to be successful.
And the funny thing is…
Despite self-publishing being a billion dollar industry and despite the fact that tens of thousands of authors with money to spend are looking for someone to help them with their book marketing, there isn’t really a lot of competition.
That’s because most of the “Low End” service providers aren’t actually very good at online business!
They have ugly websites; they haven’t optimized their SEO; they aren’t posting interesting content that gets shared… they’re doing everything wrong. They still make some money, because there aren’t any big players moving into the space (because it isn’t worthwhile to them – they either become “high end” and focus on helping authors with money, or they find other ways to profit.)
Author marketing SHOULD be huge business, but it isn’t, because book marketing publicists aren’t so good at promoting themselves, and because MOST authors don’t want to spend any money, at all, and therefore NOBODY is really trying to solved the big fat juicy problem – how do self-publishing authors with no budget and no platform stand out and sell books.
I started this website because I think, at the very least, I can offer services that other people are offering, for less, and do a better job. And I’m ALSO going to focus on solving the bigger problems and helping indie authors sell more books – either by building tools or opportunities for them, organizing events fun projects – or simply by educating them about all the easy and free things they should be doing to market their own books for free.
But what I can’t do, and I hope you understand, is just work for free to help you market your books. I’m also pretty great at making money online, so every hour I give you is like handing you a $100 dollar bill, and I’m not Buddha. Plus I give more value, to more people, by focusing on tools and resources rather than helping one author at a time, so I need to be selfish with my time for the Greater Good.