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When Should a Writer Stop Marketing a Book?

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

As you know, I'm in the middle of launching the release of my third published book, Unending Devotion. It released September 1, and I've been going strong in my marketing efforts for well over a month now. In fact, during the course of yesterday and today, I'll have had a radio interview, 2 book signings, 2 blog tour stops, and a facebook party.

In the cycle of a book's life, the first couple of months after release are generally when the most sales happen. Of course, if the book breaks-out, hits best-seller lists, etc., then sales may continue to grow.

But the average author sells their largest percentage of books during the months surrounding release. That's one of the reasons why we need to take our book-birthdays fairly seriously. We really only have a month or two to shoot off the fireworks. (Here's my latest post about How To Prepare for a Book Launch.)

After that, readers are ready and excited for the next author's newest book that's hitting shelves. The buzz about ours begins to fade, the rankings slowly sink, and the book gets relegated to the back shelves of the bookstores.

Does that mean we should stop marketing once all the hoopla dies down? Do we ever reach a point in the life of a book that we stop promoting it, especially in today's market when our books are available online indefinitely? Does that mean we need to keep marketing them indefinitely?

Obviously no one has the time and energy to let off fireworks all year round every day. So no, we can't keep up the intense type of marketing that comes during the release months. If we tried, we'd find ourselves and our fans burned out.

But neither do we have to give up completely on marketing our books once that initial buzz fades.
We can look for small steps we can take to keep our books and our name alive.

I recently read an article "Marketing 101" by Jeff Gerke of Editor of Marcher Lord Press and author of The First 50 Pages by Writers Digest (thanks to Melissa Jagears for the link!) After observing many novelists, he says this: "The harder a novelist works to promote his/her novel over time, the higher will be that novel’s sales. The corollary is also true: The less a novelist works to promote his/her novel over time, the lower will be that novel’s sales."

He goes on to say that just because we market really hard, doesn't mean we'll see best seller status, but at least our novel will do better than a book that isn't marketed well. He says: "Further, as soon as you stop marketing a novel, it will probably cease to sell."

Cease to sell. Those words are scary enough to send chills up every writer's backbone. We don't want to go to months and months of hard work writing a novel only for it have a shelf life of two months before it begins to collect dust.

Ideally, we'd like our books to keep selling and generating interest, maybe not at the same initial launch level, but at least to a degree.

Gerke has created the 30:1 Rule of Marketing which states: You have to do 30 things to market your novel to get 1 that “works” or gives you some traction or a positive uptick in sales.

He suggests doing one thing every day, no matter how small it might be. Because in the end all of those efforts add up.

There are a thousand different small things we can do to market our books that are inexpensive and not time consuming. And there really aren't any right or wrong ways to go about promoting. What works for some writers might not for others.

The important thing is that we keep doing a little bit of marketing and not to give up our efforts out of weariness or discouragement. (And yes, this is a message I'm preaching to myself!)

Gerke ends his article with this charge: There is a connection between how hard you promote your novel and how well it sells. Work harder and longer on promoting it, and it will sell better. As soon as you stop working it, most likely it will stop selling.

Doing one promotional effort a day sounds manageable to me. Does it to you?

Have you ever gotten discouraged with marketing and given up? What are a few small steps you can take or have taken to keep marketing?

_____________________________________________________________

Hey everyone! My "Fun Secrets" Blog Tour is still taking place. Make sure you don't miss out on the fun! At each blog stop, I'm GIVING AWAY a copy of my newest release, Unending Devotion. Here's where I'll be over the next few days:


Monday, Sept. 17: Secret #10: One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Diane Estrella’s blog

Tuesday, Sept. 18: Secret #11: The area in my life I’m the most inconsistent. Dawn Alexander’s blog

For a list of all my secrets, check out my Events Page!


23 comments:

  1. I also think the biggest component to marketing a previous release is having regular new releases. I know each time I release a new book, my sales for my previous books bounce back upward to close to where there were when it first released. It probably also helps that I write a series. So someone may pick up book two and like it, then want to see the previous couple's romance as well.

    But yes, it's a challenge to keep your books top of mind for an extended period of time. I think this is where social media comes in as well. Not necessarily blog touring indefinitely or anything like that, but having the steady presence and making friends so that people click over and go--hey, I wonder what she writers. :)

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    1. Good point about staying visible on Social Media, Roni. I think if done right, than can help keep us in the spotlight perhaps a little longer. And I have gained a few new readers out of curiosity!

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  2. Thank you for this post Jody. My first book will be a year old in November and I have been wondering how to make that shift into promoting my second book.

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  3. I'm not published, yet, but this is great information as I look to the future and what it will look like to market a book and keep it selling. Thanks for another great post, Jody, especially in the midst of a busy release season.

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  4. I REALLY like that thought, Jody! I can do one thing!!! Usually, it's me trying to do a 100 things and I collapse at the end of the day, feeling very much like a failure because I feel like those 100 things were a bit of a flop!

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    1. Hang in there, Krista! I think that first month after release we do end up doing 100 things a day some days! And we just don't know which ones really work. But better to try something than to do nothing at all!

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  5. Thanks so much, Jody, for your helpful advice!!

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  6. I like to get my book reviewed on blogs. My 3rd book, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker was reviewed or featured on over 60 blogs. I also do a giveaway to promote the book.

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  7. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I'm glad you're all finding the post inspiring! When I read Jeff's article, it certainly encouraged me!

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  8. I liked that his one things were sometimes really small, like telling a friend or dropping off bookmarks somewhere, the small thing weren't "write a guest blog post" or "reach a million twitterers" a day.

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  9. Just want to say how big a fan I am of your posts, Jody. Truly some of the most helpful reading an author can find. Always appreciate your insights and positive take.

    As for the topic, there's probably a stopping point, but I'd generally think, "Why not keep promoting--at least a little--until it's time for the next?" Or at least until the point the next story demands your full attention. Totally guessing here! :-)

    EJ

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    1. Thanks, EJ. I truly appreciate the vote of confidence.

      When the next new book comes out, I'm finding that there are still ways to market our old books. For example, at my book signing today, I did something as little as hand out cards about my two other books to those buying my newest book. Simple, but hopefully the cards will spark interest in reading the others too!

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  10. Jody,
    This is timely advice. I worked to exhaustion to promote my novel and initial sales were okay but disappointing. Now it has flatlined. I don't want to be one of thoe obnoxious in-your-face marketers. I want to enroll in the KDP Select program, but not until my second novel is finished. That's at least six months away. Should I do a re-launch?

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    1. No, I probably wouldn't suggest a re-launch right now. I really think you can only have fire-works once for each book. But you can do little things like hand out book marks, tell a neighbor/library, perhaps do a giveaway on your blog, speak for a local writer's group. I keep a running brainstorm list of things I can do. I might not do them all, but it gets me started!

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  11. I'm not sure I'd agree with Jeff's warnings of books dying off if a person lessens their marketing push or even practically ceases to promote....this is less likely than it once was because of digital sales. Before, once a book lost shelf space, that was it. Now, for many books, shelf space doesn't even matter. Ebooks are forever, and can be successful alone provided the book is well written and secures a loyal fan base that that passes on recommendations through word of mouth.

    Writing the next book needs to take precedence at some point. :)

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  12. All the reading I've been doing about the amount of marketing necessary by an author really discourages me. I've written my first book, but it's not ready for publication. I'm kind of slow with my writing, and I almost feel like I need to have 2 (and/or maybe a 3rd?) "in the can" before I even try to get the first published.

    Thanks for explaining all of this, I learn SO much from your blog. But honestly, I find the business side of publishing very daunting!

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  14. Wow, I had no idea that the first two months or so were the most crucial to marketing efforts. But, I must admit, it makes sense. I'll definitely put much thought into this subject. Thanks!

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  15. Great advice, Jody. I'll be back for more.

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  17. Great article, Jody--there's a lot of food for thought here, and I've also enjoyed reading the other authors' experiences in the comments.

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