Does Book Marketing Really Work?

We are slowly switching to the era where the gatekeepers will be as insignificant to writers as oil lamps are now. Anyone on this planet with a laptop and internet connection can type some words into a word processing software, upload it to Amazon and hit publish. Your book can be reached by millions of readers all over the globe if only you could reach them first and that’s what people call marketing.

How does one market a book or herself/himself as a writer?

To be honest, I have no idea!

Build a social media presence, they say

I’ve opened my first Facebook account in 2007 and harvested countless hours of pointless scrolling until I finally closed it for good in 2017. I had few attempts of going off and on the platform but it has been a year ever since I had the last Facebook account and I don’t miss it at all. In fact, I feel free!

I do have a Twitter account and I really tried to get engaged in it and then I just quit. It’s not for me. Now, I just post links to my blog articles but I’ve tried sharing interesting content, commenting, liking and retweeting and then I got fed up. I see twitter as a phonebook; if someone wants to get in touch with me, they can find all the information over there.

Same with Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit. I couldn’t find any satisfaction in that.

I know that some of you are now thinking – you either do your marketing and sell books or you don’t and whine about it.

Well, in that case, I don’t but I will try not to whine as much as humanly possible.

I see social media as one huge billboard where everyone is yelling different things:

Look at me I’m so fabulous!

Come and buy my stuff!

Look how wonderful my life is! You can have this too if you do this [insert an affiliate link].

Or picture it as a dark medieval alley where people are jumping out of the shadows into your face and telling you things you don’t want to hear.

Affiliate marketing is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to make money, but I think that we still haven’t mastered the art of selling; we are still yelling at people and offering them things they don’t want until we eventually persuade them.

Most importantly, these people are spending your attention and there is only a limited amount of that fabric. Therefore, be careful where you put it and who do you give it to because one day you might want it back and it will be too late.

Build a platform, they say

While social media could be your platform, many will advise you to build your own website, with your own mailing list and start blogging.

The reason for that is because of Facebook, Twitter, and all the others might and probably will vanish just like MySpace did which means that all these people who were your followers will go somewhere else and forget about you unless you follow them and start building your audience on that new medium whatever that might be.

If you have a website, the disappearance of Facebook won’t have any impact on you.

Whilst I completely support that idea I still don’t know who the hell would like to follow me and why!?

First, I’m nobody. I read books and articles on writing I follow some of my favorite authors and I listen to their advice if it seems to suit my needs. Therefore, what new do I have to offer except chewed and half-digested information which can be found elsewhere in much better shape?

My dear fellow writers, I love all of your writing about writing and I often read your stuff and I really appreciate your efforts but the best advice I’ve got is from Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Nail Gaiman, Robert McKee, Eric Edson, and numerous other established writers and teachers. Honestly, I think that you do the same. These people didn’t build their names chewing and spitting other peoples stuff they mastered the craft which takes time and effort, especially effort and that’s why we respect them. I don’t mean to insult anyone, it’s just the way it is.

Secondly, I don’t want my readership to consist mainly of desperate beginner writers. While they might be interested in my blabbering about writing, which I hardly doubt, they would be even less interested in my fiction. If they come to my website searching for an answer on how to outline a novel or anything else, they wouldn’t bother to read my novel and I don’t expect them to.

So, how does one attract a reader who is going to read both, your blog (which don’t necessarily have to be on writing) and your fiction? The answer is –  I don’t know.

Not every reader wants to be a writer but every writer writes about writing and attracts only them.

I really don’t know what non-writing readers want to know about the authors they read. The only thing I want to know about my favorite authors is how were they coping with the art of writing. I don’t care about their cats or children or holidays or anything from their private lives.

Perhaps I’m being to subjective and close minded on this matter but I haven’t met a writer who has a platform and is not blogging about writing or some private life nonsense that nobody gives a damn about.

Yes, there are some of you highly successful indie authors who are making a living out of selling books and I admire you, but I’ve never picked any of your fiction books. Yes, I’ve seen your YouTube videos and read your articles and your books but when it comes to fiction, I’m a little bit picky and I guess many other people are as well. 

I don’t expect anyone picking up my novel because they like my blog. My blog is a place where I try to assemble my thoughts and I also expose them publicly in case someone might have use of them.

Then, again, I don’t have permission for whining but I will whine anyway.

Let’s say that it works

Let’s say that it works, all your social media presence and blogging and you have attracted a ton of readers and they all buy your book, but your book sucks and then they hate you because you fooled them into buying something they didn’t want.

Some of you might say, but my book doesn’t suck, people love it. Great! We finally came to the conclusion – for someone to be a successful writer they need a good book! Simple as that!

The book is the best marketing tool

If you ask me, the book is the best marketing tool a writer can have. Write a good book, send some free copies to the right people (the gatekeepers) they will love it, the editors will love it and the publishers will love it and finally, the audience will love it. They will talk about it and more people will buy it. What’s more – everyone will be waiting for the next one.

All right, you want to be an indie author. Good. The same rule applies. Write a good book, send some free copies to the right people, if they like it they will talk to other people who will buy the book and it goes downhill like a snowball. 

There is nothing like a word of mouth when it comes to books. There is more probability that you will buy a book if your sister recommends it for you than me. 

Maybe I’m a blind dreamer who is justifying the decision to skip the daunting work of marketing but for some dumb reason, I believe in the magical power a book which will make people talk about it. Everything else is just noise.

Yes, that book might never happen to some of us, but then it wasn’t meant to be for us to be great writers.