Writer or Marketing Guru?

Here’s the dilemma. My novel, The Girl with the Haunting Smile, is ready to enter the ebook market. When should I launch it?

It’s my decision. My epublisher is waiting for me to set him loose but I don’t feel ready. I’ve set up this blog and acquired 3.800 Twitter followers and 1,000 Goodreads friends in a fairly short space of time but that’s not all it takes.

I now need to engage more fully with them. They’re a friendly lot, quick to respond and offer helpful advice. I’ve tried to be equally responsive but it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the tweets that come flooding into my inbox. I haven’t managed to answer every tweet I should have, so I may have unwittingly upset some good folk along the way.

Am I worrying too much about social media? In a recent survey of ebook sales, 12% were traced back to Twitter, 50% to word of mouth tips. 12% isn’t a lot when you think how much time aspiring authors spend trying to claw their way up the giant literary ant hill of Twitter. What’s more, you’ve no idea if your followers will retweet details of your novel or, if they do, how many of their followers will have any interest in buying it.

To dilute this reliance on social media, what I’d ideally like is an influential sponsor (a guy can dream!). Not one who’d inject funds, just one who’d say nice things about my book. That would do more for it than Twitter. My top choices would be David Beckham and Tim Howard, the Everton and US goalkeeper, as they’re both pretty relevant to my novel. Tell me how to get in touch with either of them and you’ll be my friend for life.

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About Richard Louden

Maybe it was because languages were my thing but I loved writing at school and I've loved it ever since. Obviously, I hope others will enjoy reading what I write but, now that I am turning my hand to novels, what matters most to me is to write what, as a reader, I would like to read. As a journalist with UK papers, I've written widely on education, business, sport and law. In the creative writing field, I've written the scripts of two TV dramas (BBC and ITV), contributed sketches to TV and radio comedy shows and had short stories published in national anthologies. That doesn’t make me a novelist but I hope it gives me a push in the right direction.

Posted on August 8, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Hi Richard. I think you’re placing too much dependency on Twitter. Yeah, you can get quite a following there – but most are after exactly what we are. People to buy their book. I read an article recently in which the author said he follows 500 new folks a day. And at the end, if he has 100,000 people he follows, perhaps 1,000 will buy his book.
    What I primarily use twitter for is finding authors who’s blog I can follow. Follow and comment on. Or reblog their posts. Interaction, if you get me. Mutual support. I joined goodreads for much the same thing. Making contacts and friends. I’d hit that hard, along with getting a few author interviews out there, some book reviews, something that speaks to your writing’s quality, not just you barking on about how someone should read your book. Frankly, I get bored real easy when I befriend someone on twitter and their reply is “thanks for the follow, my new novel ‘tracy takes a dump’ is now available on plucked rooster books!” Use it for the positives…contacts.
    Hope some of this makes sense…
    Thomas

    • Hi Thomas As before, I’m very grateful for your comments and don’t disagree with any of them. I assume the writer who does 500 new follows every day is Claude Bouchard – if not, he does it too. I’ll certainly follow your idea of getting some good reviews – I’m just not at that stage yet. What is clear from your comments and my own limited experience is that there is no guaranteed way to achieve worthwhile sales.

  2. None whatsoever. What we’re working with is odds…and increasing them as best we can. Sales, when you think of it, is all about numbers. If you do cold calling (no appointments), then the basic premise is one sale per 10 calls…if you’re lucky. Same thing. I think it’s better to slant those odds to someone who can give prospective readers positive info about your book. IE, reviews, good interviews, and so on. Not just a bunch of people who hit a button when you started following them.

  3. Thanks for the comments. It seems social media is taking so much of my time when I ‘d rather write more. Quite a dilemma!

    • It really is a dilemma, James. Nowadays it affects writers who have traditional publishers as well as the indies. We all have to take responsibility for our own marketing. It’s the writing that will suffer.

  4. Marketing is hard. As a writer, we tend to follow other writers and yet we need to find the people who will read our genre. One idea I read on another help blog was, “Comment every day on at least 5 other blogs.” That way you are getting your name out there, so when you do release your book and tweet about it people will remember you from the wonderful comment you made on so and so’s blog. And I’m bad at this. Some days I might comment on five and some days not on any, but you have an advantage that I don’t and that’s your name shows when you make a comment and mine will show as my blog name.

    • Thank you, Karen. That’s very sound advice and I will act on it.

      • I’m excited and apprehensive. If you’ve never marketed anything, you’re feeling your way in the dark and that’s a tad scary. But there are a lot of good-hearted writers, like you, who are ready to offer the benefit of their experience. Though I’d love to get my novel out there fast, I won’t do it till I’ve done enough spadework. I’m pretty active on Twitter and my blogsite. Now, as you suggested, I must get my name known by becoming more visible on other blogsites. Once I’ve done that, I’ll start to think about press releases etc. in an effort to get some wider media coverage.

      • I was fortunate to have a business online and a physical location, when I started writing, so I already had connections on twitter, facebook and linkedin and some were supportive of me becoming a writer and some weren’t because writing takes up a lot of your time. I also made the mistake of joining every writing forum, facebook pages, etc. which causes you to spread yourself too thin and you aren’t able to give enough quality time to those groups, which isn’t fair to them. So I suggest pick four platforms to start. Facebook, twitter, your own blog, and then one of your choice. Goodreads or World Literary Cafe are good ones and connect with people not only at the marketing level but on the personal level also. And when you finally do publish, let me know and I’ll do a book promo for you on my blog. 🙂

      • Hi Karen I appreciate your eminently sensible advice. I couldn’t agree more about the danger of spreading yourself too thinly. I haven’t made much headway with Facebook and LinkedIn, so I may let one of them slip, but I’ve built up a good presence on Twitter and Goodreads and will continue to work on my blog. I’ll also follow up your idea of WLC, which does seem to me a very good site. Many thanks for your offer of a book promo. I’ll certainly take you up on that.

      • Hi Richard
        Sorry I didn’t get back and reply yesterday. Do you follow Rachelle Gardner? She’s a literary agent and she’s got a great blog post today about marketing
        http://www.rachellegardner.com/

      • Hi Karen I was aware of Rachelle’s reputation but wasn’t following her. I’ve now made up for that. Many thanks for the tip.

  5. I agree with the many good suggestions your friends/readers have left in the comments. I would add 2 more: When I was building my platform, updating website & social networking sites, I used a fantastic resource. It was written by a friend of mine who is an expert on this topic (particularly from a job search perspective), and she is also in a Masterminds group that I formed. We are all in different areas — author, career counselor, marketing freelancer, playwright, jewelry artist– but we help each other by sharing resources, marketing each other’s work, etc. Link to her book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Networking-Career-Success-Personal/dp/1576857824/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051885&sr=1-1&keywords=miriam+salpeter
    Her best recommendatoin was also to post on other author’s blogs, to follow people on Twitter who have similar interests, and to focus on giving and promoting others’ work, which will generate good will and response in kind.

    The other piece of advice I got, over and over, was to write a newsletter. E-newsletters are invaluable for building loyal audience, and a great vehicle for giveways, promotions, etc. (unlike FB, which restricts this sort of thing). I am using MailChimp to build a subscription list and launching quarterly newsletter with book promotion in Sept. You are welcome to use my ideas to develop your own. If you want to subscribe, just visit my website. I’ll gladly respond by subscribing to yours and/or Retweeting your promotional tweets.

    Best of luck! Pamela
    http://www.pamelagottfried.com

    • Hi Pamela I’m very glad to hear from you and greatly value your suggestions (the one about an e-newsletter is entirely new to me). I’m now off to Paris for a week’s holiday. When I get back, I will follow up your ideas and subscribe to your website etc. Many thanks for taking the trouble to share your valuable suggestions with me.

  6. A very interesting conversation following your blog. I liked your “giant literary anthill that is Twitter” – what a time it takes to climb and one wonders if it’s worth it (authors trying to sell books to authors? not highly probable). But what is one to do as an “indie” without a lot of backup? Anyway, good luck for your Girl with the Haunting Smile – perhaps she’ll end up laughing!

    • Hi Margaret Your comment about authors trying to sell books to authors hits the proverbial nail on the head. But at least authors are readers, which is more than many members of the general public can claim to be. Whatever happens, Ive met lots of lovely folk on Twitter, so my authorial living will not have been in vain.

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