How Hard Is Too Hard

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There are million-selling legendary authors, like those genius scribes of such modern literary classics as Duncton Wood, or Clan of the Cave Bear. Not to mention the not so literary but still million-sellers, because not all readers enjoy literary books. There are bloggers that have so much cool stuff to talk about that they have tens of thousands of followers. There are Google and SEO geniuses, like Guy Kawasaki. There are marketing wizards that could sell ice to an Eskimo. There are huge publishing houses, crumbling a little now, but still – who would refuse a contract with one of the big five? Wizard computer technicians. IT specialists that have actually studied the subject. People are Twitter heroes with thousands of adoring fans, hanging on to their every tweet. People with Facebook pages that are so “Liked” that I wonder how their owners ever find the time to read all the comments on them.

And then there are the Indie Authors. They have to be all of these things. I think that any sort of gentle, creative soul would have difficulty facing any one of these things, but if they want to succeed, and be one hundred percent independent, they have to not only face, but conquer every single one of them. Even though Amazon really is still young, in the last couple of years millions of books have been loaded on to their site. I think that the marketing strategies of even one year ago might not all be effective any more, purely because of the sheer volume of people all doing the same things. The next great marketing idea hasn’t been found yet. In the beginning posting your book links on Facebook, in groups or events, would probably have got you lots of sales. Now I doubt that you would get many at all that way. Constant hard sell drop and run indie authors confuse me a little. I very seldom click their links, purely because I don’t like having things constantly lobbed at me. Hard sell marketing is a dodgy way to go with any product. Sales people who do that for a living are generally taught how to go about that sort of strategy, and it involves a bit more than just constant bombarding of the same people with the same book link.

Now there’s just mainly a white noise of millions of book links flying around, and only a handful of true success stories. New authors jumping on the bandwagon now are going to have to find new ways to market themselves and their books. The old channels are all clogged up, and I’m beginning to wonder if we’re not heading back to the way things were before the advent of self publishing, with a lot of the books on Amazon seen as “submission to agent”, to languish there until, or if, it’s ever spotted by someone who loves it enough to start a fever of sales. Word of mouth praise is your best marketing tool after all. No matter how well your book is written, there is still an element of luck involved in it gaining real readership. Thousands of books downloaded on free days are never actually read by those who download them. Thousands of books have brilliant reviews. But. Not all of those books deserve all their praise. If these reviews have been written by friends and family, who at the end of the day are never going to give you a crap review, and then people buy your book on the strength of them, and then don’t like what they read, they are not going to buy any more of your books anyway. So it seems to me that no matter what people say about how important having loads of fantastic reviews up the minute you publish is, the best way to get them is to wait for them to come in from people who have read your book, liked or hated it, and get the urge to leave their opinion of it honestly. I could very easily ask all my buddies for honest reviews and get lots of them posted in days, but I won’t, because I know how difficult it would be to tell a buddy that I really didn’t like what they wrote. At some point the real honest reviews will come, good or bad. Maybe a little worse than they would be if someone has been misled into buying a book by glowing buddy reviews that maybe aren’t entirely true.

That’s just my opinion, and I’m more than likely going to get shot down for it. I could be wrong anyway. Indie publishing is a journey of learning, and I’m still taking my first steps. Either way. I’d rather be patient, get my books into the hands of potential readers as gently as I can, and hope that some of them will like what they read enough to want to read more. That doesn’t mean I’m going to recline on the couch eating grapes. As an indie writer, it’s my job to sell my scribbles. Of course I’ll carry on learning all I can about getting those scribbles under new eyeballs, I just won’t camp out on doorsteps, and leap out of bushes waving any of my tomes under unsuspecting nostrils, and yelling, “Oi, you!!! Buy my book!” The only platform for that sort of hard sell is possibly Twitter, but even then, it’s not going to work if all you do is post your links. I honestly believe that without a bit of support from Lady Luck, it’s not reasonable to expect overnight bestseller status anyway, no matter how hard you work. At the end of the day, if what you’ve written is liked by those who read it, you will eventually achieve some sort of success, big or small. And if it’s not, you won’t, no matter how often or how hard you wave it under nostrils. Just saying.

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33 thoughts on “How Hard Is Too Hard

    jennieorbell said:
    April 26, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I agree with everything you say here Jo. x

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 6:20 am

      Thank you Mz Orbell. Now we just need to find the new strategies! 😀 xxx

      Like

    Elaine said:
    April 26, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Totally agree with the blog too, Jo.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Thanks Elaine – I didn’t think anyone would agree at all! :Dxxx

      Like

    LucyPireel said:
    April 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Jo Dearie, once again you hit the nail on the head. 🙂 Isn’t that the reason why we are on G+? To try something new? I’m trying not so much as to push my books but to get known for being an indie author who pushes others and hope that by getting people to recognise my name as that author who’s always willing to help others out people might take a chance on buying my books.
    Mind you it’s not only a sales strategy, it’s part of who I am. I like to help others and often forget about myself in the process.
    But I agree with you the constant bombardment of booklinks kind of puts me off too, and certainly doesn’t contribute to me buying that person’s books.
    Xoxo
    So if you need a shout out, or anything liked, shared or linked to, Let me know.

    Like

    jorobinson176 responded:
    April 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I think that you are amazing in your support of so many indie authors Lucy. I love your posts, and have actually found a couple of new author favourites on your site too. I agree we have to post our links to be seen in the first place, and G+ is a brilliant place to be now. I just know how much work it is to zoom around posting everywhere, and I wonder if sometimes people should be spending that time trying to think of different ways to market their books. My problem is that I have yet to meet someone who likes the hard sell technique, without any personal contact, and in some ways, I think it scares potential readers away from all interaction with indies. I’m not sure how, but somehow we have to think up and start a totally new, friendlier way of selling our wares. We’ll get there if we keep on trying. Thank you for all your help. It’s time for me to pay some back! I’ve been off line since yesterday morning again – so that doesn’t help. 🙂 xxxxx

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    acflory said:
    April 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Well said Jo! I particularly like what you said about honest reviews that accumulate over time. Spamming reviews is really not that different to spamming ‘buy my book because it’s great’. What we need to focus on is what used to be called ‘repeat business’. I admit I get discouraged and impatient, at least once a week, but so long as some people enjoy my work I’ll ignore the ego stuff and keep plodding along. 🙂

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      That’s what I think too Meeka. When you pop on to Goodreads, or a new and lovely review appears, there’s nothing to beat that feeling. I suppose we all get discouraged on bad days, but you’re right, as long as some people enjoy it, you have to be getting it right. It would have to be a totally undiscovered genre for everyone to like it after all. Slow and steady wins the race – you’re right. 😀

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        acflory said:
        April 27, 2013 at 1:38 am

        Now if only slow and steady was as sexy as overnight success. I still have to give myself stern pep talks at least once a week.

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          jorobinson176 responded:
          April 28, 2013 at 10:47 am

          Overnight success would be the sexiest thing!! It’s good to talk to yourself too 😀 I think we’re on the right track at any rate. Just the patience thing…..

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            acflory said:
            April 29, 2013 at 4:42 am

            lol – Yeah, just the patience thing… So easy to say, so hard to do. 😉

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              jorobinson176 responded:
              April 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

              I’m with you on that one – I wan’t everything NOW. 😀 xxx

              Like

    Patrick Jones said:
    April 26, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Jo…you are totally correct and I am glad to have you in my circle of Indie authors. Another thing that really irks me is the email marketing strategy. I always feel that if I bleep out those messages that other people will do the same. Sometimes, the people that are making the money are thriving on the aspirations of the beginning author. The road the Indie author navigates has made us a master of all of the intricacies that go into book publishing. Think about all of the computer/marketing/strategy that we have to juggle all at once! The reward is those random reviews that people take the time to submit. Great post and honored to have you in my circle of Indie author “extraordinaire” category!!

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you Patrick – it’s a huge honour to be in your circle! You have had success, so you’ll know a lot more about this than me. I’ve just started looking in to sending out email newsletters. I always open the ones that I get – sometimes I close them quickly if they are pure in your face plugs though, but a lot I really enjoy, and go on to buy. I agree that the wrong people often get to pocket the money that should be going into the pockets of newbie authors of really great books. Luckily I’m a bit obsessed with holding on to all control – ha haaa – so that’s not likely to happen to me. The awesome random reviews are what spur me on. There’s no reason really for a total stranger to lie. There’s nothing better than the thought of those strangers, scattered around the globe, munching their snacks, reading words that you’ve written, and liking them, is there? xx

      Like

    melanietoye said:
    April 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Hi there, I am a fan of your blog and writing. I completely agree with your statement that the million and one authors do the same promo’s that won’t be remembered by the mass of people they are wanting to reach. And as an author who is trying to make a living from writing. (I also do freelance writing and I am an editor and creator of an online magazine – which helps to promote other authors too) I do find myself sometimes doing the standard everyday promo plus I really feel I have tried some unique ideas as well. I am one of those tweeters who send out blasts of my own and other authors book links, but I do try and add some funny or interesting wording (in short space) to add with it. The reason so many authors send out these blasts is because we are all connected, we all know the struggle it is to make a vast amount of sales and get our novel seen, so we help promote each other. And I can assure you building networks with other writers is incredibly rewarding. Not just for support but also I ended up co-authoring a book with 7 other writers because we just were so connected we wanted to draw on our very different experiences and come together as one. It was very exciting. I guess what I am saying is, when you are starting out, try the old ways, try the new ways and then try some completely out there ways. Don’t think of it as making a mistake doing a hard sale, because if you don’t put a link to your book that you are promoting, how will buyers know where to buy it from? But yes, its obviously not required for every tweet. Self-published authors have to promote themselves and sometimes even when they are published, marketing themselves is a major way in getting book sales. Don’t be afraid of it.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Melanie! I’m also a Twitter blaster, 😀 I think it’s acceptable there, but it’s also nice to just relax and chat there sometimes. I do worry with spamming up my followers home pages, but with marketing, I always ask myself what I would think if I was on the receiving end, and on Twitter, I’ve found so much to like and download that I think the blasting is good there. The thing I don’t like is just daily posts, sometimes more than once a day, of the same book, but I do also love interacting with my writer friends. Without them I’d have given up long ago. Thank you for your inspirational words, and I’d love to see your magazine too – I’ll have a squiz for a link on your site. 🙂

      Like

    Michelle said:
    April 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Well done sister! You’ve covered so many great points that I think would be greate discussions!! 😉

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Cool! Thanks Michelle! Let’s get to discussing – it would be a really great way for new ideas to pop up hopefully. 🙂 xx

      Like

    Marian Allen said:
    April 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Well said. I love getting to know other authors. As I come to know them and to read their comments and blogs, I get a feeling for whether or not I would like their writing. Next thing I know, I’m shelling out money for their work.

    On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve EVER bought a book just because I’ve seen the link to it a million billion times.

    Me, I don’t even leave buy links when I comment on other people’s blogs. I leave a link to my blog, where I have stuff that may interest readers and where I have free stories. IF somebody wants to buy, I do a happy dance, but I only actively try to sell if I’m asked to.

    If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a book up my nostril! lol

    Like

    jorobinson176 responded:
    April 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Ha ha ha ha ha haaaa!! Can’t get the cartoon vision of a book wedged in a nostril out of my head now!! 😀 And that is exactly the sort of sentence that will having me rushing off to buy every single one of your books, because it’s a sentence I would love to see in one. And ultimately why, I think authors like yourself are more successful – because you interact, and don’t park off in some ivory tower somewhere, lobbing books at passers by. Lordy! Still laughing! 😀 xxx

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      Marian Allen said:
      April 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Okay, and now I’m picturing authors tossing books out of windows, trying to tag people on the bean. ~makes note to self for one of my Story A Day in May stories~

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        jorobinson176 responded:
        April 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

        Ha ha ha haaaa!!! Double dare you! I just bet you’d have a fan for life. I would love to have Stephen King toss a tome on my noggin! 😀 xxx

        Like

    Christine Campbell said:
    April 27, 2013 at 1:50 am

    You are all so right, folks! Jo, great blog post again. So, the gist of it…just as I discover the whole social network as a marketing tool, it’s become so clogged up I’m going to need a plunger to get anything through it! D’you know…I always turn up late to the party! It just always takes me so blooming long to get ready!
    Christine

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 28, 2013 at 10:45 am

      I reckon some avenues need more than a plunger too Christine. 😀 The good thing is that something new always pops up, so I’m feeling positive. We’ll make our own party. ;)xx

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        Christine Campbell said:
        April 29, 2013 at 12:47 am

        Yup! Having fun! Got my party hat on! Xx

        Like

    jastaunque said:
    April 27, 2013 at 7:18 am

    With you on that wagon, buddy. Seems like you’re in my head. And guess what? I was actually eating grapes(of my husband’s earnings) as I read this ;D …far from reclining and enjoying them, though. Strategies will come….till then, I’ve got to enjoy the journey, pot-holes, muck and all!

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      April 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Got cameras hidden all around your house – eyeballing your every move Jas. Ha haaa! Strategies will definitey come. And the journey is worth every step too – I’m loving this trip. :)xx

      Like

    Margaret Lynette Sharp said:
    May 31, 2014 at 5:41 am

    You’re so right, Jo. If a review is just a lip-service to friendship, where does that leave potential buyers? It seems to me that if they are to be believed, reviews from unknown sources have to have some sort of a back-up review from an independent, qualified reviewer.
    Certainly, though, word of mouth is still extremely important in marketing.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      May 31, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Sometimes I really wonder when I see almost equal amounts of five stars and one stars with nothing in between, and I always reckon that there’s something dodgy going on. Looks like Amazon is taking a lot down again if they look fake, or if they’re from review swop sites.

      Like

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