Peddling my books in 2019 (pre-weight loss)

Book marketing and rediscovering my why

My publisher didn’t pick up Christina’s Portrait. They had a limited number of slots, and they needed to allocate them for books with a greater potential of sales. That’s fair. My book sales have been flat. I haven’t paid attention to marketing because I’ve been focusing on writing (and my family, job, and well, just living my life). But now, I need to buckle down and focus on book marketing.

I know the fundamentals. I was in public relations at the start of my computer industry career. I know about advertising, channels, funnels, and promotions. There are also the “make or buy” decisions. (Are these tasks I can do myself or should I hire someone to do them for me?) More importantly, I know about return on investment. Do I want to spend $5,000 just to make an extra $50 on royalties? Plenty of companies promise to make you a seven-figure author who gets on the New York Times Bestseller List. But you wind up spending a fortune and getting nothing in return. I might as well join an MLM.

Before I can decide how to market, I had to determine what it is I’m marketing. It was time to revisit my why. Here’s what I wrote back in 2013:

I believe my writing can educate people, spark their passions, and inspire them to work towards a more just and humane world. I write about characters who struggle to free themselves from their limitations, especially the ones they impose on themselves. Even if they fail to get what they want, they triumph by gaining dignity and self-respect. When you read my books, you will get stories that will educate, entertain, and inspire you and leave you thinking for a long time.

As I look at everything I’ve written, fiction and non-fiction, they all fit into my why.

So, marketing becomes a matter of connecting with readers who are looking for these types of stories, making it easier for them to get to the buy button and click it, and encouraging them to read my next book. It should be a system that’s easy and economical (in time and money) to set up, maintain, and scale.

Here is what I plan to do in the coming months:

Redesign this website 

I admit it’s a mess. I’ve been using it to monetize my writing. But my posts are getting drowned in ads, and my books have been tucked into the menu bar. I’m looking at  WordPress themes that are cleaner and will make my books more prominent. I’ll still have ads to help cover the cost of web hosting, but I’ll make them less intrusive and secondary to the things I want to promote, my books.

Start a newsletter

Years ago, I had a newsletter. I stopped it because it was one more thing to write when I had all my other social media to keep up with. As our publisher pointed out at a writing conference, social media is rented ground. Social media platforms are also subject to changes in policies, hacking, and account blocking. (I’ll have to close my X/Twitter account once Elon starts charging to use it.) So, I’m starting a newsletter again.

The newsletter will enable me to do more than what I’m doing with the announcements of new posts you’re already getting from this site. I can let you know about my book signings and other events, discounts from my publisher, reviews, awards, and other news. I also plan to interview other indie authors.

I’m looking at newsletter services that are secure, comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations, and will make it easy for you to manage your subscription. Of course, it will be free to you, and I won’t sell your personal information.

Revise and reissue my older novels to sell my newer ones

Since I don’t have a new novel coming out, I can go back and revise and reissue my self-published novels, Offline and Doria, so they can support my Black Rose Writing novels, Amiga and The Remainders. Both Offline and Doria desperately need new covers. (And with Doria, major editing.) I’ll also add supplemental information like reader guides. I’ll add advertisements for Amiga and The Remainders. Readers who buy my new editions can read my other books.

And more…

I will be doing more in-person events and interviews. Here are some interviews that just came out:

Will all these marketing efforts bring me massive royalties and a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List? Who knows? But by being clear on my why, I can write and promote my books in alignment with my values—and enjoy the journey.

One comment

  1. […] I finally have my newsletter ready to go. (If you want to subscribe, the form is on this page and at the end of this post.) It took a lot longer than I expected. I had to wade through a wide variety of options and steer away from those that cost a fortune. And once I picked a newsletter plugin, there was all the work to set it up and make sure it works correctly (and all the time I will need to make fixes and field requests from writers who want to be interviewed in future editions). It will be worth it to further my connections with you as readers and to help fulfill my why for book marketing. […]

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