C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Take it from me. When researching the topic of marketing for fiction, it seems there are about as many “experts” out in cyberspace and our local bookstore as there are writers of fiction. Each one believes they have the formula for success. Yet, when you check their sales numbers on Amazon or CBD (if they are Christian-based), their sales are often not very good. What does that say to you and me?

What it tells me is that selling books is a lot like creating a product. Some become household names, like Kleenex and Ford. Some were mistakes that found a purpose in another realm, like sticky notes and Rogaine.

Others never get past the cutting room floor.

In just about every case, marketeers abound. You’ve got your Ronco people, who appear in your face every Saturday afternoon and at night between the hours of 2:00-4:00 AM, offering their wares to the “Next 20 callers.” This has become so popular, a spin off crowd of QVC mavens have taken this concept to 24 hours a day! I wonder how many of these folks actually read books…

Then there’s the Guru group who put out ads in the next city on the tour, inviting you to a convention center setting for an evening. Their promise is to hand you their million-dollar fiction marketing makeover kit, regularly $599.00 for only $149.99. Others create companies that do the same thing and are primarily cyberspace cadets.

Lastly, there’s the “local experts” I spoke of earlier. They’ve written a book. Usually, it’s self-published. And they desire to sell it to you. They promise 10,000 followers on Twitter when their own personal account has only 702. Hmm….

What I do find amidst the noise is they all end up in the same stomping grounds. Arenas of expertise that seem to ebb and flow based on a variety of factors.

For example, authors must have social media accounts, they say. What I’m finding is that most people on social media like me are doing the same thing. We all “like” and “follow” each other, but how many of us actually purchase and read each other’s works? Not get it for free in exchange for a review. Not wait until the eBook goes on sale for 99 cents. But actually buy it when it first comes out in all of its $17.99 per paperback glory?

Authors, they say, should hold promotional gimmicks like giveaways and swaps. Again, what many people are finding is these folks get the free copy, read it, give a review, and then sell it online…some of them making more money than the authors. Sigh.

Another thing is, authors need a website. I’d be interested to know how many fans actually go to their favorite author’s website.

What’s the point of all this?

Perspective.

Finding what works for you amidst all the noise is so critical. It’s really one big roll of the dice. Sometimes, we come up snake eyes. Other times, we hit it big. Some love social media and find that it works for them very well. Others see social media as the spawn of Satan. Some love book signings. Others would rather go to the dentist for a week of days before sitting behind a table, pen in hand.

So, find what works for you. Get good at it. Then, expand to the next trial and error method.

Build your platform.

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

So that, in the end, it’s something you can live with.

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The Serpent's Grasp by C. Kevin Thompson

The Serpent’s Grasp by C. Kevin Thompson

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1.

 

Website:           www.ckevinthompson.com

Blogs:               www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com

http://www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com

Facebook:          C. Kevin Thompson – Author Page

Twitter:            @CKevinThompson

Goodreads:        C. Kevin Thompson

 

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Arches headshot CAN

Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1-#6 here.

 

So, on to Principle #7… Good website design is critical.

 

Two subpoints to this principle:

 

1.   Content draws people and keeps them coming back. These days, the web is literally clogged with people who have something to say. Or nothing to say, but using cyberspace to do it! How do you have a website that is more than just another page among many? One word: content.

 

Sit with yourself awhile and brainstorm about everything connected with your books that you could offer on your website as additional content. Go deeper into your topics, write a few articles. Maybe a few short stories, or “extra” chapters the way DVDs have deleted scenes. What have you dug up in the course of your research that you can pass along? Your website should be more than one big advertisement for you and your work. It should offer something of value. How about some writing expertise? Recommended books?

 

Fill up your site with content and people will start finding you online in more ways than your web address in the back of your books. They’ll find you through search engines, and your site will begin to rise above the cacophony that is the Web.

 

2.   In site design, sophistication prevails.  Gone are the days when you could upload a template website, plug in some information, and look like a professional. Unless you are a truly a graphic designer, you need to get some outside help here. Today’s web surfer expects quality, and if your website says “amateur” it reflects on your writing. Do some exploring yourself, through the websites of other authors you know, and start to compile a list of designers whose work you like. Make some contacts and get price quotes. You don’t have to spend a fortune. But your website is your calling card to the world these days. I’ll say it again: it needs to look professional.

 

 

There are so many opinions on what works and what doesn’t work in book marketing. No one can really say for sure what causes a book to take off. But a nice-looking, content-rich website is a non-negotiable. Just as you would never show up at a speaking engagement dressed in your sweatpants, you shouldn’t settle for a website that looks sloppy, either.

 

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