I spent October focused on book promotion, in one form or another. I’ve either been promoting other people’s books or searching for ways to promote my own. It’s exhausting.
In today’s competitive book market, phrases like “developing a platform” — “creating buzz” and “using social networks” are thrown around as absolute necessities if you want to sell books. Publishers want to know how YOU plan to market your work, and if you are one of the increasing number of authors who are publishing on their own in the digital book market, the pressure is even more intense.
There are millions of books available. Millions. The fact that some break out and become major bestsellers is amazing, when you consider how much competition there is in the market. Even more amazing is the fact that no one — not publishers — not publicists — and not even authors can tell you why one book will suddenly take off and become an international sensation.
If there was a formula, everyone would use it. The book business relies as much on intuition as your Grandma when she tells you it’s going to rain. There are reader surveys, but most books are bought because someone, an agent, an editor, then an editorial board, and finally the marketing department have an inkling that it’s good, maybe even better than good. They know it when they see it.
But what happens to all those good books that never break out into great sales? Readers still buy the book, they tell their friends and word spreads. Generally for those authors, there are no $250,000 marketing campaigns like I just found on the back of an ARC (Advance Review Copy) sent to me recently. They do all the things that the publishers tell them to do, and even spend their own money to promote the book.
But they end up with average, (or below) sales. Maybe their publisher drops them, cancelling any more books in the series. Maybe they are lucky enough to find another publisher who believes in them and their work. They might even jump into the digital market and publish their own work.
But the main thing they must do is let go of the past, move on and write that next book. Because writers write. They are forced to do other things but if they can stop writing, they probably should. It’s less painful, less stressful.
The voices don’t stop, the characters keep building themselves and the stories go on. Because a story is a powerful thing that needs to be shared with others. So, I’m letting go of all the marketing for a few months, and I’m concentrating on the creative part of my life that feeds my soul.
I can’t wait to see what happens.