The Daunting Task of Marketing

This past weekend I went to a local bookstore and purchased four magazines – Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Yearbook, Writer’s Digest Anniversary Issue, and The Writer. I found some great articles and terrific resources and links.

One article in particular stood out to me, “Should Publishers Pay Authors for Promoting Their Own Books?” written by Chuck Leddy. It’s a great read about how authors of traditional publishing houses are expected to promote their own work using their own money to do so.

After reading the stories on how difficult it is to promote your work these days, I still don’t see the benefit of traditional publishing. The only benefit I do see is a “stamp of approval” the industry and your peers may finally give you for landing a book deal. Unless you’re some big name author who is very famous, book promotion is still on YOUR shoulders and YOU are still going to be the huge success factor behind YOUR sales. Traditional houses are no longer being the publicists they once were due to cut backs, and they often ask what YOU are going to do to promote your book.

Frankly, I love writing. My goal is “penning heartfelt emotional journeys” that leave my readers touched. I doubt though I will ever get rich from writing books. An occasional royalty check is nice, but big buck sales often seem impossible to obtain for most self-published writers. I sometimes think about getting an agent, then I read the 15% fees they want from my sales. After checking the royalty payouts at some of the presses who might publish my book, 8% is a very small amount. My royalties are much bigger via my subsidy/vanity publisher.

The only problem is the daunting, time consuming, and expensive task of marketing! It almost takes the joy out of writing altogether. I’m trying to find consolation that my book is receiving positive reviews by readers – I am very grateful. However, like the rest of you, I’d like to make a little money off my endeavors too – but how?

A traditional published author told me of a writer she knew that spent his $30,000 advance marketing his book that never sold enough copies to recoup the investment. Sort of sad. I guess that’s part of the business, and with the influx of books, e-books, etc., competition is fierce. There is more supply than demand and being able to stand out in the crowd of millions on Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble is a real challenge to say the least.

As an author, I must find satisfaction in touching the few, rather than the masses. There will always be the mega selling authors that do the big business, but the vast majority of us will no doubt have to claw our way upward at a price to get noticed.

Undaunted and hopeful,

  • excellent article. If an author loves their work the marketing can be fun. I work with self-published authors and my most successful authors are the ones who want to share their book with the world. It can be an amazing journey
    Jennifer Flynn

  • nlowell

    Thanks for this article. You’re corroborating what I see from my perspective as well.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “the few.” I have a fanbase of over 5,000 people at the moment and it grows with each new release. It’s one of the reasons I’m looking into self publishing. I get email every day from people who want to buy my books in hard copy.

    Granted when you’re looking at numbers like King’s or Rowling’s or Meyers’, it doesn’t seem like a lot but when compared to the average new genre author’s sales of around 1000 units, I certainly feel like I’ve carved out a piece of the Long Tail. While I’m a long way from people like Scott Sigler, JC Hutchins, or Mur Lafferty with their 5 figure followings, I really believe that using new media outlets, social media tools, and working directly with fans is certainly a viable path claw.

    And it sure as heck doesn’t cost $30,000 to do.