They call it the Cliff. You can do Author Marketing Club and Bookbub and free promotions and blow giveaways out the digital door. You can even start catching fire and getting traction and selling books for (gasp!) actual money. Then, the fall from grace comes. Sales drop off, often steeply. What happened? You ran off the Cliff. Lots of people do. In this post, we’re going to think about climbing back up and promoting our previous works again (and doing it better this time) because I suspect we’re sitting on money.
I’m rethinking the old marketing paradigm that’s always oriented to what’s new.
It’s the thing we should question most: accepted wisdom. Despite all my efforts, old wave thinking is still permeating my brain. In traditional publishing, you get a short window to get traction and then the bookstores return your books to the publisher for credit. That’s the structure of the short tail market. In long tail marketing, our books are up forever (or at least until the cyber war brings us all low). Still, we tend to think of our books as hitting big (or not) and then the graph points down. We’re mimicking thinking and marketing patterns from traditional wisdom because all old ideas are awesome, right? Oh, wait…
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and by not sleeping, I’m finally getting to it. I pulled Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book, Aspire to Inspire from print. I didn’t like the look of the interior design. I’m fixing them and will make Crack the Indie Author Code available in print again soon. (They’re both still out there as ebooks.)
Self-help for Stoners was my first book. It’s funny and strange and with an intermediary. I used Bookbaby for that collection and I want to get it back at Ex Parte Press and put it out myself. I’m sure I can make it go higher once I have full and instant control of the marketing. I queried Amazon about the process today because I’m afraid of losing the reviews. Either way, I do need to steer my ship and reach out to stoners and non-stoners, alike and anew. (If you’re a Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus fan, my luckless Cuban hit man appears first in Self-help for Stoners, by the way.)
This post won’t help you much if you only have one book to sell, but here are my thoughts on renewed marketing efforts:
If you have one book, write more. No whining,
If you have a backlist, who is to say what’s old and what’s renewable? You’re the one to say.
If you have a bunch of books, I bet you’re a better writer by now. Why not revisit those books and do new editions?
Consider the power of bundling books. You could enliven your Amazon dashboard with more happy green up arrows. Stop sitting on the money.
Lots of people missed your fledgling efforts the first time. You didn’t know what you were doing. Who did? Any book they haven’t read is new to them.
The most powerful promotions tend to be the first ones. But maybe that’s because we don’t put the same marketing efforts into books we published a couple of years ago. In digital, the term backlist is less relevant. As long as it’s clear it’s a new edition or a new launch or you’ve added material, what’s the problem?
Maybe those early efforts flopped because you had a lousy cover. Get a new, better cover* and launch it right this time. With all you’ve learned about marketing since your early efforts, it’s bound to do better, right?
Most fiction doesn’t get stale. Our efforts get stale because we want to focus on the new thing. Maybe the old thing is only old in your mind. With some tweaking, a fresh edit and a new campaign, you might have a book people will love and buy. Reuse, recycle, repurpose. Turn short stories into collections. Open up to new possibilities with prequels to your books. Tie books together. Add to your series. Serialize. There’s plenty of fun to be mined in what you’ve already accomplished.
Your problem with these suggestions isn’t necessarily that my head is full of feathers. Your problem is the same as mine. This will take a lot of time and you feel you’ve already covered this ground. But most of us didn’t cover this ground well the first time. There are new promotional tools now. Yes, time management can be tough and we can only do what we can do. But that’s business. We are not special snowflakes, but we’re letting good stuff go cold.
*About good covers, I know a guy. He’s Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He’s an award-winning graphic artist with an extensive portfolio who works well with indies and traditional publishers. Like my covers? Kit did them all. Check out his site. You’ll be glad you did.
- The Writing Life: Big Changes and New Ventures (allthatchazz.com)
- Books: Ventures, Misadventures, Adventures and Brutal Honesty (chazzwrites.com)
- FAQs: What book promotion are you paying for? (chazzwrites.com)
- Four Types of Book Publishing (dianetibert.com)
- Linda Gillard on self-publishing: ‘I market myself, not a genre’ (theguardian.com)
- Combat the horrors of self-promotion (with fun) (chazzwrites.com)
- It’s Almost Time To Throw Out Your Books (techcrunch.com)
- Book Marketing Top 10: When less is more (chazzwrites.com)
- Inteview with Best Selling Author Hugh Howey (parkerpaige.wordpress.com)
- New Book Search Engine Knows How to Market a Book (prweb.com)