Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – January 2019

by | Jan 17, 2019

By Amy Collins

Another year, another set of chances for you and your book! While I usually focus on authors and publishers in this column, this month, I am the one guilty of committing the errors in DO THIS NOT THAT.

What I Did

I got discouraged. I mean I got REALLY discouraged by the onslaught of news and stats coming out from the media.

  • Author earnings are way down on average.
  • Book sales are becoming more and more consolidated at Amazon.
  • Amazon is “hiding” new authors in favor of their own published books.
  • Kindle Unlimited no longer offers fair compensation for page reads but drives ebook shoppers to their platform…

The list goes on and on. In addition, current economic, political, and global news is driving non-essential purchases down. There are more books than ever being published, but fewer people are buying books. Goodness, it is enough to drive a girl to drink.

What Happened

The discouragement I was experiencing caused me to say “What is the use?” I stopped promoting my books for a while. I stopped dead in my tracks and figured that writing and promoting books was a waste of time.

What I Should Have Done Instead

I should have kept going. I had a job to do, and I let the negative press stop me from doing my job. It is not the media’s fault that I turned into a wilting flower. I should have kept DOING my job.

What I Am Doing Now

Okay, rest time is over. Times have ALWAYS been hard for creative types. Making a living with talent IS hard, but it will NEVER be possible if I quit.

Great books were written and sold during the Great Depression and WWII. Authors made their way during the mid-60s when assassinations were reported every few months and war was ripping our country apart. If books can be sold and authors can be successful during some of the darkest days in our history, then books and authors can be successful today.

Is Amazon not playing fair? Too bad. I need to find other ways to sell my books. It was fun and easy to depend completely on Amazon a few years ago. Authors could make big money just selling on Kindle. Those days are over for most authors. Time to accept that and explore some of the other venues I didn’t need to deal with before. I am naturally lazy and don’t want to have to explore multiple sales venues.

It is hard and takes a lot of time. But what are my other options? Working at ANY job is hard. Selling books is work, but I would rather work at publishing than at a movie theater or in a doctor’s office.

Only famous authors and celebrities are getting media attention and hitting the bestseller lists? Then I need to spend time each day advancing my platform so that I have a CHANCE TO BECOME a famous author or celebrity.

Are my words and writing not selling in the form of my books? Then I need to find other venues to host my words. Apps, subscriptions, audio, video…. Time to learn all the ways people read and absorb stories and content now.

Economy going to pot? What can I do to get my writing out there in a way that entertains or educates readers in a format they can afford? Wouldn’t it be better to get my writing out there for less and have a LOT more readers?

Having a hard time getting attention for my book? What can I do each day to attract attention? Am I ACTUALLY doing those things? Or just thinking about doing them? I am often guilty of confusing my DESIRE to promote my books with actually promoting them.

Perhaps the current book world and the publishing industry are the problem, but I have the solution. The publishing industry is not going to fix my problem, that is my job. But I will never, ever, succeed if I give up. Every day that I decide to spend a few minutes promoting my writing is a day that I get closer to becoming a best-selling author.
Photo: BigStockPhoto

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  1. Jemima Pett

    Excellent post. I do too much thinking about promotion….

  2. Kristi Saare Duarte

    This article is great. I completely agree with you, there’s no sense in lamenting over what’s been, or how others (like Amazon) treat you. Move on, and move up. If you believe in yourself, work hard, and try new avenues of marketing.

  3. LaShaunda Hoffman

    Book promotion can be very discouraging if you are not seeing positive results. You want to call it quits and move on.

    I teach my Social Butterflies to have your pity party then get back out there and showcase your wings.

    Someone who needs your book didn’t see your promotion.

    It’s ok to get a little discouraged just don’t let it stop you.

    Showcase those beautiful wings. Someone needs to see them.

  4. W. M. Raebeck

    I’m sorry to hear you were feeling down. I think of you as a strong player in the self-publishing world.

    Maybe go to your edge and try something a little far out? Sometimes it cheers me up to use my creative license.

  5. Ernie Zelinski

    A great article.

    I particularly like your comment: “Is Amazon not playing fair? Too bad.”

    Several times I have that been irritated at Amazon but every time I have had to remind myself that Amazon was largely responsible for the success of my “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” (now over 375,000 copies sold). I have to remind myself also that Amazon was responsible for ebooks taking off. Most authors, on the other hand, have some sense of entitlement when it comes to Amazon, thinking they are getting ripped off by Amazon. I tell them, “If you don’t like the way Amazon does things, go somewhere else.”

    I recall about 5 years ago many crackpots on the so-called “indie” publishing blogs and websites were ranting and raving that “Print Is Dead!” and professing how their ebook publishing ventures through Amazon were going to drive traditional publishers out of business. I challenged these delusional deadbeats. Interestingly, most of these people have fallen off the radar screen, never to be heard from again. Even though my books (which have sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide) are mainly self-published, I am pleased to see that that traditional publishers are still doing fine and print sales are holding their own.

    Here is the latest on print sales:

    “Print book sales have been trending upward, albeit at a slow pace, since 2013.”
    — Publishers Weekly, Jan 4, 2019

    For the record, during the last 5 weeks of 2018 the print sales of my “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” according to Bookscan were 4,143 copies whereas my total eBook sales (Kindle, iBook, and Kobo) were 377 copies. So the print sales of this book were over 10 times more than ebook sales. Yes, “print is dead”, isn’t it?

    One more note: I have just published a new retirement book that I wrote 10 years ago called “The Joy of Being Retired: 365 Reasons Why Retirement Rocks — and Work Sucks.” If I would have published it two or three years ago, it would have sold at least 20,000 to 30,000 copies by now without my having to do any marketing. But because Amazon has changed their algorithm and are not partnering retirement books for free or using the “Customers who bought this item also bought” feature, it is going to a lot tougher job for me to market this book. Nevertheless, I am going to use my 75 to 100 unique marketing techniques to make it a true bestseller (at least 100,000 copies sold in print). It may take 10 years but I will make it happen.

  6. Ronald Joseph Kule

    Shedding light and venues in the darkness is a great help to authors like me, Amy. I welcome your help.



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