I can’t say I’m the best at getting the word out about my writing. I frequently find that marketing my work is a chore that robs me of the energy I have to devote to writing. My sales often reflect this reality as I’m better at producing content than I am at getting people to buy it.
Still, marketing is a valuable asset to the writing process and those best at promoting their work are the ones people come to know. Part of my block is due to the fact that I’m not comfortable communicating one on one with other people. The primary reason I write is because I find it difficult to communicate otherwise. The business of telling people about my writing usually petrifies me.
This is one area where I believe creative writing programs in schools fall short. They concentrate on teaching writers to express themselves but fail to take into account the business of writing, ironic, since most programs are headed by published authors who understand how to query agents and publishers. Perhaps this is rooted in the traditional manner of how writing has been introduced to the public. Writers write and leave it up to agents to sell the work to publishers who release and market it. With the rise of independent authors, more are finding themselves taking on the business side as well as the creative, producing, publishing, and marketing their own work.
Of course, the past few years have not lent themselves to yielding many opportunities to gain experience marketing my work. I signed up for a table at a literary festival near my home that was canceled due to Covid-19 a few months before the event and other book fests, which seemed plentiful before the pandemic have not rematerialized in the wake of it. Virtual events don’t afford much opportunity to place a book into someone’s hands, which is a good way to make a sale. Sending people to a hyperlink doesn’t guarantee the same results.
In general, I’ve found online marketing to be very disappointing. I ran a promotion where I gave away free copies of the electronic version of one of my books. All anyone needed to do was click the link and download. While the ad reached several hundred people according to the site’s analytics, only ten downloaded the book and no one responded with a review. When I do get sales, I’m usually at a loss to know who purchased a copy. Even when I know who bought one, getting reviews is nearly impossible.
Traditional publishing offers many advantages an independent author doesn’t enjoy. Chief among these are editors, who carefully scan works for errors and spots where the narrative might drag, and whole teams of marketers devoted to getting the word out to the buying public. Reviews are also easier to come by, particularly if the publishing company has many contacts in the media. An indie author has to learn and establish all that on his or her own.
It’s a skill I’m still trying to master usually with less than desirable results.