I received my quarterly royalty statement yesterday. (If saying that out loud doesn’t make you feel like a writer, I don’t know what will.) It’s for my first book, Postcards-I as I now refer to it; incredibly, it is still selling. Not a lot, but consistently.
This, recall, is a book with an off-putting price tag and one that I have done no marketing for during the last two and a half years. Yet people are finding it. And buying it. Compare that to Postcards-II, the better book (as some have said), the more reasonably priced book, the book I am pushing on anyone who will listen, the book that sits on the virtual shelf right next to Postcards-I. And that book is not selling. The mind boggles.
Well, the mind boggled a bit, but mostly it’s not thinking about it. I’ve made peace with the fact that I am simply not a good marketer. It is huge handicap, but there is not a lot I can do about it. As the saying goes, “You can lead a writer to Twitter, but you can’t make him tweet.” Some writers are naturals at virtual socializing. I am not. For those who are good at it, virtual socializing becomes an enjoyable part of their day; to me, it means constant effort, continual mental anguish and the vague yet pervasive feeling that everyone who encounters me on-line thinks I'm a snake-oil salesman.
I needed no further proof of this, but Google+ provided it anyway. Google’s answer to Facebook arrived in my IN box less than a week ago. I may be a dweeb when it comes to social networking, but I’m still a geek at heart and so I had a play with it. Already I am finding writers (of the self-pubbing school) leaping on this new wave, trying to wring every drop of marketing power out of it that they can. Some of these people already have hundred of followers. I have seven.
Now, it’s not that I didn’t have the idea that Google+ could be worked into a great marketing tool (I did), it’s that I didn’t have the instinct, imagination or drive to put that idea into practice.
Much as I hate to admit it, social networking, in this micro-age, is an absolute necessity if you are going to sell anything. Taking that, and my lack of virtual social grace, into account, I have formulated a plan: Get other people to do it for me. The key is to do something so interesting or unusual that others will tweet and post and G+ it all over cyberspace without you having to touch a keypad. Unfortunately, I’m a bit stuck on the “do something interesting” stage; I’ll have to get back to you on that. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep on doing what I feel comfortable with, which is offering my book for reviews, pimping my posts when I think they are interesting enough and popping into Twitter, Facebook and G+ off and on just so people know I’m still alive. Anything else makes me feel like a huckster.
So, for now, I’m taking a passive role. My first book found an audience and so will the new one, even if I don’t jump up and down, wave my arms and scream “LOOK AT ME!” I just wish I could get some real, useful marketing help.
What I would really like is this:
Someone could start a service that would look over your manuscript for you and, if they thought it would sell, they would do all the hard work of editing, proof reading, production and distribution. And they would handle all the marketing. Because they were doing all this, they would naturally get a bigger cut of the profits (you might squeal about that, but consider this: if your $2.00 Kindle book sells in a “non-Amazon” country, Amazon will scoop up 82% of the takings, and they don’t even proof read your manuscript for you). This would allow me to work on a second book while they marketed the first book. I would do what I do best, they would do what they do best and, in a perfect world, we would both make money.
But we know this isn’t a perfect world.
In a perfect world, Yoko would have jumped in front of John.