Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 2: Marketing
Books Don’t Pay Unless . . .
Books don’t pay unless:
A) Your book comes with built-in name recognition, or a signed book deal with a major publisher eager to profit from your celebrity (in other words, you are already rich and famous, or at least in the midst of your 15 minutes of fame), or
B) You’ve written a true literary masterpiece and have a well-connected saint for a book agent. There’s a caveat to the latter too. Most agents won’t touch you unless you can show you’ve already sold at least a thousand books! (See A).
Books Only Profit When They Sell Tens of Thousands of Copies
If you’ve been thinking of having your book published in hopes of making tons of money from royalties, read the above paragraph again. Depending on the price of your book, your cut will be small
compared to the actual retail price. Printers, distributors, and retailers (even Ebook retailers) take a big cut. If you sell 100 books, you will likely receive less than a thousand dollars. If you sell 1,000 books, you’ll probably make less than $5,000. If you are distributed through a site like Amazon, you’ll be
competing with millions and millions of books. Millions!
Why Your Book Won’t List at the Top
On Amazon’s site, your book title won’t necessary be listed in order, alphabetically. Algorithms decide how to list your book as befits the retailer. These secret formulas are dictated by consumer demand and will determine how early-on in the list of publications your book appears—even if your book should be first alphabetically. More popular books with similar titles will be positioned near the top of the list. If you are a new author, or unpopular, your book will quickly be lost in the morass. Again, even if someone searches for your book title by typing it in alphabetically exactly correct, it won’t pop up near the top of the list unless it’s already a big seller. (I know this from experience. Go ahead, experiment with my book titles if you like.)
Marketing is Key
I ran out of time for marketing my books. You may laugh. Seriously, I had an entire strategy, but life happened and I had to move away from my book projects before I could delve into serious marketing. I had given myself a timeline. Even with a solid year dedicated, life gave me too many interruptions. I finished self-publishing my books, but I needed to go back to my day job. I didn’t have time to market my books properly. However, I missed a window that would likely have been fruitless anyway. (See A in paragraph 1).
Book Marketing Requires Research
Even though I ran out of time, I still made a modest effort to market my book. I quickly discovered that book agents put up walls. While searching Online, I found websites for agents who advertised, openl, that they don’t take clients whose books have not already sold at least a thousand in number. Was I discouraged? Of course, so I moved on. I could have continued looking, however I feared I might spend more time and money for naught by falling victim to someone preying on another new author’s dreams. Some unscrupulous agent might take my money and just make a few empty promises. Perhaps they would make some weak gesture such as offering to issue a press release—something I could have done myself. That’s how things panned out.
I put up a couple of websites for my books, which was a hopeful idea, but even that doesn’t help if people never see the websites. Meanwhile, social media explodes. This could be good. Yet, even putting one of my books on Facebook did nothing measurable. Facebook wanted me to purchase ads (like the ones you can block). Those Facebook ads cost me more than all of the royalties I’d ever received. Ouch! (Yes, you can laugh.)
My Books Have Been Purchased
The few purchases of my books were probably made by distant relatives of whom I’ve never heard. Perhaps I made a few sales from people who happened across one of my websites, or one of my Twitter accounts. Maybe they saw the poster I tacked up on a bulletin board along the bike trail near my house that was later mowed down by an errant bicyclist. (How’s that for sophisticated marketing?)
If you want to market your book and you don’t fit the profile in item A of paragraph 1 above), you’ll need a lot of luck, plain and simple. Maybe you have a big congregation at your church who can be easily guilt-ed into buying your books.
At the end of the day, at least books should be written if only for the love of writing. Keep writing…or don’t. Be happy.
Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing