In today's crowded book market, ALL writers (whether traditional or indie publishing) must participate in marketing their books if they want a chance at getting noticed among the millions vying for reader attention.
Of course there are some differences in marketing for self versus traditional publishing. Traditional publishers often (but not always!) budget some marketing money for each book they publish.
Interestingly, the big name authors usually get the best (most) marketing dollars. On the one hand, it seems more logical for publishers to spend the larger share of marketing money on the lesser-known authors since readers already anticipate and pre-order the big-name releases months in advance. But on the other hand, publishers want to make sure their breakout novelists continue to do well (because those are the authors paying the bills).
All that to say, most mid-list authors don't have an endless supply of marketing dollars budgeted to the their books. So as I said before, that means no matter which venue of publishing we choose, we'll have to put forth our own time and money to market.
But that brings up the question: Which marketing methods are most worth an author's time and money? We obviously don't want to waste either on methods that may not bring enough bang for our buck.
Another writer recently asked me whether having a review on a major website was worth the investment because she was considering having her book reviewed there. She asked: "Could you let me know if you felt the service was worth the cost? As writers, we don't make a lot of money, and I would hate to spend money on something that didn't show a good return."
I'm sure my answer frustrated her. Because my answer is frustrating even to myself. But what I've learned over the past few years of marketing, is that there is no easy way to discover exactly how effective any ONE effort is.
For example, during the span of three weeks in October I was wrapping up a 20 book giveaway blog hop and an enormous contest with an incredible prize package. I had two reviews on major book review sites. Along with that I participated in a huge fiction scavenger hunt that brought hundreds and hundreds of readers to my website. I had a paid promotion ad on Facebook which took news of my book to over 50K. And then I did a five-book giveaway on my blog, which also generated lots of tweets and facebook sharing as contestants tried to earn more points.
All of those efforts together worked to spark interest in my new release. I saw more people adding the book to their shelves on Goodreads, more tweets, more facebook likes, and even some spikes in sales.
But . . . I'm not able to pinpoint which of those things helped THE most.
In other words, we can't put our eggs all in one basket. We need to have multiple marketing strategies going at the same time.
Of course we want to be wise in what we do with our limited time and money. We can't do EVERYTHING. But what I've done is pick a few new things to do with each book. I try not to get into a rut doing the same-old-same-old, but rather look for fresh and different ways to promote.
There's NO magic formula and NO one thing that works best over every other strategy. At least I haven't landed upon that one way yet!
The key is to think outside the box. Stay relevant. And keep doing a little bit every day.
I hold on to the hope that eventually all of the hard work will pay off!
Have you found any marketing techniques that are especially helpful? Or is it difficult to narrow down what helps the most?