When promoting your own book, the pain of promotion isn’t necessarily the amount of time it takes, but how it actually feels to be the salesman of your own work. It’s what makes writing a query letter so hard – not just condensing a book into a few words, but trying to be an advocate without sounding like a used car salesman. One of the problems you’ll see in self-published books is hyperbole on the back cover copy. It’s important to realize that self-published books and traditionally published books aren’t equal in this regard. So if a writer calls his/her own book “wickedly funny,” this is far different from the same words coming out of a publisher’s marketing department.
A good post in the Amazon forums echoes this sentiment:
We have these forums, and it’s great, but most authors (myself included) feel a weird repugnance to posting links to our own books and recommending our own work. Here’s what we’re up against.
All those e-mails you get, all those books that are just like this book, all those sidebar ads … in short, the things that drive you to best-selling authors and their books … they cost prohibitive amounts of money to be a part of. Real advertising costs real money, and most authors – even those published through traditional publishers in print and/or Kindle – don’t have the money. The publishers push what they want to push – what they feel safe dropping their dimes on … the rest are left to hang out there.
Sure, you are “available on Amazon” but only if a: someone already knows you are there or b: finds you through a random search. There are over 2,000,000 books out there, not to mention the millions of other products taking up key words, tags, etc…your odds aren’t good.
It doesn’t change the way self-promotion usually feels. I wish I could see an alternative that made sense. Even if it cost “some” money, it would be worth it, I think, since I have years and confidence behind my work. I’m willing to stand it against just about anyone, but unfortunately just about anyone doesn’t have to stand next to *me* (lol).
I sort of got launched onto this by the post asking “should authors be allowed to post about their own books on these forums”.
I remember a time not too far in the past, when not everyone in the universe had written books and gotten “published” when it was still a thrill for readers to have a chance to interact with authors. Now we have come to a point where there is a contingent who doesn’t even want to be bothered by the authors…and I understand where they’re coming from. We’ve been turned into a bunch of schills.
Just a note that I hate it, am seeking alternative methods to promote my work, and wish I could find a better way. I’ve been writing and being published for over two decades, and this new era is the first time I’ve started to feel self-conscious when talking about my own work…
Self-publishing is a blessing and a curse. Good that people have the outlet and opportunity, bad that there’s an incredible amount of competition to find readership. The answer is not necessarily to oversell your book, but regardless, promoting your own work can be a fairly creepy experience, which is why it can be so nice to have an external advocate.
If nothing else, this points out the value of reviews. While it’s very possible that reviews might not help sell copies of a book, it can help with promotion. If you can have the words “wickedly funny” coming out of someone else’s mouth, this is far more persuasive than going it totally alone.