P is for I’m Promoting and I Can’t Get Up!

Promoting, or marketing, is a big topic that’s been coming out at the two science fiction conventions I’ve attended this year (Marscon and Ravencon).  In just about every other field, marketing’s a science.  The advertiser knows that a camper against a pristine campground will get people to buy the product because they’re looking for that experience (I’m currently reading a magazine called Trailer Life.  That was a comment in a letter to the editor from one of the readers).

But books?

If publishers could figure out how to market books and turn them into best sellers, they would.  Books are very subjective.  Plenty of bad books — Twilight comes to mind — hit the best seller lists, while great books don’t even sell all of their first run.

What we do know is that the standard marketing techniques don’t work.  I get a lot of authors on Twitter, and a day doesn’t go by without a dozen or more Tweeting “Buy my book!”  Usually over and over.  Writers have sent me direct messages asking me to help promote their book, and all I can think is that I can’t even figure out how to blog properly to draw people in.  Exactly what am I supposed to do that this writer isn’t doing?

It’s a crazy environment with people acting is they were bumper cars, all bumping into each other and backing into each other, and no one really knowing where they are going.

What’s been your experience with trying to figure out how to promote a book?  What have you tried?

And with this post, I’m ending my participation in the A to Z Challenge.  It’s been too draining, and I’ve been having to push aside other things to keep up with the number of posts.

10 thoughts on “P is for I’m Promoting and I Can’t Get Up!

  1. I’m not doing much beside writing new books. I think the more books I’ve got out there, the greater my chance to get noticed. Sometimes, I participate in a challenge or tour, and I twitter regularly but not advertising tweets (I hate them, so I won’t). Also, I’ve got a list that people who liked my books can join. The link to it is at the end of everyone of my books. That’s all I can do. I hope my readers will recommend my books because that would be the best (and only good) way to promote my stories.


  2. Congratulations on getting this far and equally on your decision to quit, watching and reading several participants it’s clear how exhausting it must be, not only daily blogging but finding the appropriate alphabet topic as well. I like your bumper car image that’s exactly how it feels coming up against all these authors who feel that what they are doing is the most appropriate way to promote. The more I slowly get into this the more I appreciate Kristen’s approach, developing sound relationships rather than collecting oodles of followers makes sense to me. Keep up the blogging won’t you, I do enjoy your posts.


    1. I definitely will keep up blogging — I just need to find some kind of middle ground where I don’t feel like all the bumper cars have converged on me.

      Thanks for your complements. That helps! 🙂


  3. You are a wise woman, and a model for the rest of us. We need to evaluate what we do and how we spend our time. The A to Z has been fun, but it has also added stress. I think I will finish, but my posts will be shorter.
    I love your bumper car analogy. It is so true.


  4. Reetta Raitanen

    People blasting their ‘buy my book’ messages all over Twitter (or even worse, your DM inbox) are damn annoying. You need to have some kind of a connection to a person and their permission before you market at them.

    Kristen Lamb had a really great post about this again in her blog. But as one commenter said, it would have been great to get some concrete advice on how to market to non-readers, not just writers (who are also avid readers).

    Cat has the right of it. Write good books and then more of them. Have an email list, entice people to join by giving out good special content and encourage them to spread the word. Just don’t be annoying about it and don’t send pure promotion messages too often (but in my opinion it’s ok to have one little ad among regular good content). Holly is a good model to follow.

    And make sure that people can find your books by having their information in Goodreads and tagging and categorizing them right in Amazon.

    Finally, it’s great that you’re backing out of a challenge that doesn’t work for you, Linda. Kudos for keeping up till letter P. I really admire that as I’m struggling with 3 posts a week. Need to write shorter posts.


    1. That’s a good point about marketing to non-readers. I looked at hashtags for things like science fiction and fantasy, figuring there might be a conversation about the genres — and it’s all selling books. I just bought two ebooks, and it wasn’t because of a writer tweeting “Buy My Book.” One was a book posted on a message board (on world building), simply stating it was available. The other was the result of me seeing a conversation between my library and several other people about “Medieval Assassin Nuns.” The first book was a need — I might have passed it by at a different time. The second was that it was part of a discussion. From the context, I didn’t even know it was a book until I asked, and the library provided me with a link: http://tatalonline.blogspot.com/2012/04/grave-mercy-by-robin-lefevers.html. It’s about the fun, not about selling.


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