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.


Onward And Google

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I’ve made an amazing discovery. Coming back this time after a big internet break, I looked at everything that was “waiting” for me to catch up with, and my heart sank to my feet. Even if I stayed up twenty four hours for a couple of days there was no way I could look at everything that had come in, and I didn’t have a hope of doing everything that had been asked of me. Looking at the little pile of things that I really want to do for myself, and have been putting off in favour of these manic internet catch-ups, it occurred to me that I was missing the point entirely. By taking on too much I wasn’t doing anyone any favours, least of all myself. So I made a very large decision. Something big had to go. I’ll never give up my lovely Twitter, and most certainly not my blog addiction, so it was cut back pretty much all the way either on Facebook or Google+. With Google surging ahead in popularity, and having all the pros with its search engine, new communities and hangouts, Facebook lost the toss up fairly quickly. I nervously set about reversing from the many things I’ve been active with on that site, expecting anger or irritation because I was “letting people down”. Across the board, all I got was not only support and kindness, but also total agreement. Facebook is not working out as the best platform for indie writers to sell books.

We’re all zooming around sharing our work with each other there. We have formed amazing friendships and bonds with other writers. We’ve supported each other, cheered each other on, and read each others books, which is lovely, and we’ll hopefully stay friends forever. But if this particular form of marketing is selling thousands of books for some I haven’t seen it. What I have experienced myself is a manic feeling that I “must” join everything, post everywhere, and do everything on Facebook, and somewhere along the way I stopped chatting to friends on my wall, catching up on their news, and seeing the pictures and photos that mark their journeys. I missed this. In fact there are always so many notifications to deal with that I haven’t cruised down my newsfeed for months. Even so I still wasn’t able to keep up, and I kept finding posts on my pages or elsewhere from friends put there weeks ago that I missed, and I cringed at the thought of how thoughtless and rude I must appear. Not being answered can be very hurtful, and I certainly wouldn’t want to hurt my friends. So now the deed is done, and I’m exploring different ways of uniting my stories with readers who want to read them. I believe there are better ways than only posting links to books on purely social sites, and that’s what I’ll be working on for the next few days. My first day without hundreds of Facebook notifications to attend to has been fantastic so far, and I do believe that I’ll be much more productive in general from now on, never fail to notice another comment from a friend again, and in the end, do more of what I set out to do in the first place. Write books.

I think that my point would be that quantity can never beat quality. Do fewer things for fewer people, but do them well. Spreading yourself too thin isn’t only bad for you, but for all those around you too. Running yourself ragged is not the way to go at all. It’s also good for you and those around you to also do what you want to do. I’m not saying that you should only ever do what you want to do. We all have to do things that we don’t really want to. That’s what life’s all about. But there is not much point to a life lived purely doing what others want, or what you think others want. I certainly got that wrong. Nobody expects too much of you at all, and most people are a lot nicer than we give them credit for. They mostly wish only the best for you too. Well. There are maybe one or two pucker nasty people, but not many, and certainly not one of those beauties are worth wasting any seconds on. In celebration of this new found freedom, I’m off to read Guy Kawasaki’s, What The Plus!, and have pea soup with a poached egg floater for breakfast. Why not?

Come and join us at my favourite Google+ community, and the place where I’ll be hanging out the most. Everyone’s welcome. We’re a friendly bunch.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book