In Self-Publishing: The Marketing Game
Let’s get something straight here, folks. E-books aren’t free to produce. True, creating an ebook is much cheaper than a traditional, physical self-published book. But even doing more or less every damn thing on your own, you’re going to run into some hefty expenses. Want someone to make you a cover that ranks above “eyesore?” You’re going to need to shell out for that. Care to have a copy editor look over your manuscript, in order to catch all the typos that have slipped right by you? (This one will be getting its own column.) You’re going to need to shell out for that. If you’re not careful you can end up a couple hundred in the red before you’ve even started, and that’s before advertising kicks in.
Whether or not to advertise is an open question for any writer. After all, with so much stuff out there, you gotta get your work noticed. However, advertising can be very inefficient. I bought, or attempted to buy, advertising on three fronts. Through Blog Ads I purchased a week long ad on the popular cult movie based web series The Cinema Snob, and a round of targeted advertising on Facebook. The effect of both ads was negligible. While both of these ads resulted in many clicks (according to their respective reports anyway) as far as I am able to tell neither resulted in so much as a single sale.
This wasn’t frustrating. I figured I placed my bet and it didn’t pay off. What was frustrating were the fine racketeers at Project Wonderful. Project Wonderful–for those of you with the fortune to be ignorant–is a collective that runs auctions for advertising space on various blogs and websites. It gives you a minimum bid to make for your desired adspace, only to immediately pull a Lucy Van Pelt and inform you that you have been outbid mere seconds after placing your attempt. Any effort to raise your bid results in another jerk of the football out of your path, and if you view the Project Wonderful information on whatever website you’re trying to buy space on, you’ll note that the minimum bid mysteriously grows each time you raise your offer. Funny that. Steer clear.
So, where does that leave you, my dear fellow writer, trying to get some exposure for your book?
Well, as it goes in life, the friends you pay for are never as good as the ones you make on your own. Easily the most success I’ve had spreading the word on Son Of Danse Macabre has come from simply reaching out to people. These people have been fellow bloggers, writers, and collaborators (easily the biggest sales boost I got came from my old friend Tim Brayton).
These people have also been editors. After a bit of a hiatus, I got in touch with my old friends at inReads to see if they’d been interested in a series about my experiences as a self publisher, and…oh, hi there! The weekly paper I write for was generous enough to give me an article to help promote Son Of Danse Macabre, as well as a review of the book written by a colleague. My friends at the On The Stick Collective had me on all three of their podcasts to promote my work.
I’ve also reached out to writers I don’t know, sending out versions of the book to respected critics, magazines, and bloggers. The replies have ranged from silence, to polite declines to promises to review. Even if not all of the promises pay off, look at it as like sending out your resume: you play the percentages. You send out a hundred in order to get one bite.
In short, it’s not that marketing doesn’t work, but you should seriously consider your options before digging yourself any deeper in the red than you’re already going to be. I’m here to tell you from experience: loyalty is a commodity that trumps cash any day.