The business side of writing is a whole other ball game. Talk to anyone about it who has a book published. We don’t all enjoy it, and those that do – curse you. For many others and I, the real joy is in writing, but we do need to market our work. Often, we’re trying to convince people to buy our books through a good book cover, reviews, and a gripping blurb. All of this is presuming you want to make a buck off your writing. 2020 sure flipped a lot of strategies upside down. I, for one, was always playing door-to-door salesman at bookstores and conventions. Signing books with no social gatherings is pretty tricky. It looks like it is time to adapt. Sink or swim as the saying goes.
Welcome to Another Edition of Unprocessed Thoughts
One big realization I’ve made through 2020 is the strategies I’ve used for selling and marketing books were flawed. The ebook side of selling was practically flat unless I met someone in person, and they wanted an ebook version. I’ve ignored the ebook world for years, putting my focus on physical copies and the blog, which has worked well. But both are pretty time consuming and truthfully impossible to make a living from it.
There’s plenty of advice out there on strategizing a new ebook release or promoting series, and marketing the author version of you online. I didn’t take any of it. Even my ebooks themselves lacked critical components at the beginning and end of the books to make them marketing tools. The public speaking events, book signings, and conventions chewed up a lot of my spare time, roping me into the real-world hustle. These also had their perks, for I’ve met many great people in and out of the industry.
Sink or Swim, You Decide!
In 2020, there is no other choice other than learning how to navigate the deep seas of the web. The exciting thing about writing is you’re always learning something new, which doesn’t just apply to the next manuscript. Over the summer, I’ve been heavily researching how to promote online. The searches have shown me how to strategically use the interior of an ebook as a tool to market your next book. There’s a lot of information out there and plenty of strategies. I’m only at the base of a large knowledge-mountain.
Thankfully, there’s been some traction and positive results with what I’ve done so far. It turns out promoting a series has a ton of benefits to supporting multiple books – duh. It also helps to make a book permanently free. In a Bookbub article, readers are looking for discounts and free books. Times aren’t easy for people in 2020, and a freebie can give them an escape from reality. So, I made Reality free, and the choice has placed the book in three of Amazon’s bestseller lists. Woohoo, thank you, everyone!
The Long Game
Anyone who has been marketing online could have shared this information with me. Chances are before 2020, and I wasn’t going to listen. I didn’t even though I read several author marketing books on the topic. I was sucked into the yearly cycle of convention seasons, hammer out the next book, and repeat the following year. It was a tight schedule, and truthfully, it was exhausting.
During the start of all the crazy in 2020, the free time let me evaluate how much I was spending for booths, travel, and food at conventions compared to some online advertising. Depending on the ads and curated promo sites you look at, the pricing is pretty comparable, and it’s a whole lot less time to invest.
Buckle up and adapt. The online marketing tactics I’ve currently put into place are on autopilot. They’re a real pain to set up, but once they are, I can get back to what’s important – writing the next book. These included email automation campaigns, reader magnets, and even Facebook ads. With reformatting the ebooks, it let me correct their validation, so they are all accepted into more distributors like Apple Books, Nook, and Scribd. I’m excited to see how these all play together over time. Then I can make minor tweaks after getting my geek on over analytics. Ugh.
I don’t enjoy marketing nor selling. Thankfully, my dad was a salesman and taught me many tricks and techniques with in-person selling. It’s helped me promote books and run my own graphic design/web development business, a business. Ultimately work is still work, whether it is the day-to-day stuff or your passion for writing.
Over the years, I put my head in the dirt and avoided online marketing because I find it boring, bland, and I haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. That’s okay. It’s time to learn. It’s not like I have anywhere to go this year. Plus, the theory of online marketing is you can reach a broader range of people with less effort, meaning you can write more. That’s the goal, write more until it’s a full-time gig—time to adapt and figure out how to do just that.
The Real Thing
As great as all this online marketing is, it isn’t nearly as fulfilling as the conventions, speaking engagements, or book signings. Meeting eager readers and helping aspiring writers face to face is irreplaceable, and I look forward to the day that we can all meet in person again. This time, I may just cut back on the number of events I do. It’s all about balance, and it’s time to adapt if I want to take the writing to the next level.
Beer Note: Good Mood Brewery Season IPA
This IPA by Good Mood Brewery comes from Calgary Alberta. It’s not too hoppy, which makes drinking multiples of these pretty easy. The next thing you know, you’re down to your last one and need to savour it to finish the blog post. It’s a season IPA, so I ‘hops’ to get my hands on another pack before they run out.