Judging by the questions I’m asked, marketing is one of the big fears of authors considering self-publishing. So lets look at the truth behind the myths.
Myth 1: Traditional publishers do all the marketing for you.
That may have been the case in the past, but it’s not true now. Increasingly, publishers want authors to take an active role in marketing their own books and put pressure on them to blog and use Twitter and Facebook. I’ve even met authors whose contract actually requires them to have a website, although the publisher won’t pay a penny towards it.
Lack of marketing is a very common complaint from traditionally published authors. Marketing departments only have a limited amount of time and money to spend, and they tend to concentrate on the titles that are most likely to sell well. So the latest Stephen King or John Grisham is more likely to get the billboards in train stations than your first novel. Mind you, there’s no proof that billboards sell books anyway so that’s probably not a big loss.
Myth 2: Marketing will take all your time.
The answer to this is only if you let it. Marketing is a bit like housework – it fills the available space – but you don’t have to let it take over your life. You can do a little bit every day, have a concentrated morning once a week or whatever else fits in with your lifestyle and the way you write.
Traditional publishers tend to market a book hard in the months prior to the launch, sending out review copies and advance information sheets, and continue to push the book for a short time after it comes out. But then it’s had its turn in the spotlight and the marketing team move on to the next books in line.
However, you don’t have to fit your marketing efforts into that small window. There’s no need to delay publication while you build up hype about the book. Get the ebook version out there, gathering readers and reviews, while you sort out the print edition. And spreading out your post-publication marketing has the advantage that it’s easier to see which bits are working.
Myth 3: You need to hire a publicist
No, you don’t. The person who knows your book best is you. You’re the person most dedicated to seeing it succeed and you’re the person who knows who your targeted readers are. So you are the best person to organise your marketing campaign.
Myth 4: Marketing is expensive
It doesn’t have to be. You can do a great deal of marketing for very little cost and, once you’ve got sales started, Amazon’s excellent book recommendation systems will help keep them going without you paying anything. (Read Let’s Get Visible to find out how to use these for full effect.)
Myth 5: Marketing is all about social media
Social media is the buzzword in traditional publishing circles at the moment, so authors are under pressure to use Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. But I’m not convinced they work as well for book marketing as we’ve been led to believe. I’ve certainly never bought a book because of them, and a constant barrage of “buy my book” is more likely to turn people off than tempt them to read. So don’t feel you must Tweet and post all the time if you don’t want to, and only blog if you’ve got something interesting you want to say. There are plenty of other ways to market your book, and writing another one may be a much more effective use of your time.