My Book Advertising Dilemma

I am not a great marketer when it comes to promoting my books. I’ve learned a lot over the last year a half, but in some ways it feels like I haven’t made any progress.

I understand that book advertising, especially for new independent authors, is a long process. There’s a lot of hits and misses along the way – mainly misses. I understand the patience that’s involved whether promoting on blogs, twitter, facebook, Goodreads, etc … I’m in the for the long haul.

But my problem stems from the fact that I don’t know what kind of books I write. I’m kind of serious here. They don’t really fit into any genre that I know of and I have found that if a writer isn’t writing to a certain niche or audience, it’s more challenging.

I’ve even done some research into my kind of writing. I’ve asked some trusted readers how they would describe to others the type of writing I do. The responses were telling. Most said things like well I would say this but not really because of this but also perhaps this. Perhaps one of my recent reviewers said it best, “Sasse has done it again. He continues to write books that defy categorization.”  In a review, that line sounds awesome. It sounds like the writing is unique and not to be pigeon-holed here or there. I absolutely am flattered by a comment like that.

But it creates a problem with advertising. So many of the blogs or sites where I want to advertise make you choose specifically a genre so they know how to best market your book. Well, hmmm, okay, I’m now at a lose of how to proceed.

Now here’s the last line that the reviewer from The Kindle Book Review wrote about The Reach of the Banyan Tree: “I absolutely recommend this book to all readers; it is truly an experience you don’t want to miss!”

What an awesome thing to say! Now how do I communicate that to the many readers out there who would enjoy this story?

That’s the incredibly hard part.

I will continue on, learning from others and trying new things. I know I need to sharpen my descriptions of my books. I’m going to keep working at it.

I’d also love to hear from others who have had a similar experience as mine, not fitting comfortably in any one particular genre.

Much thanks!

22 thoughts on “My Book Advertising Dilemma

  1. Red Clay and Roses is a roman a clef. It is not historical fiction, but it is fiction and it is historical, it is also philosophical (kind of, but not really) so it might be literary fiction, and it qualifies for women’s fiction with the relationship and women’s issues presented. I had many issues trying to put it on Ereader News Today. I have run three promos through them, all in different genre categories, and sales are always around 200-400 with each promo regardless of how I categorize it. So I think people must look more at the cover and blurb than the genre. Genre’s, IMHO, were created solely for marketers to pigeon-hole books in an effort to keeps things orderly. Leave it to a true southern rebel to buck the system.

    1. I do agree with you that genres are created by marketers, and I understand why they do it. But the labeling sometimes drives me crazy. I think I’ll try your idea. Thanks.

  2. I’m not an expert and I’m still trying to figure out many things myself, but I would suggest that you market according to themes. Sharks? The end of the universe? Love? A disease? Because all books have a theme. You may be writing several genres at once. That’s what I think about my books. Although I’m categorizing them as ‘children’s books’ they are more like short stories for anyone who likes stories with a heart. I hope this helps! You might want to read my post Why I Write Children’s Books on The Story Reading Ape blog:

    1. This seems like stellar advice. My book is about a social worker. I will try to focus on the theme. Sales may never reach the heights but I am okay with that.

  3. I have the same problem. Is there any common denominator between all your books you can think of? As far as content goes, I write about a variety of topics but I can safely categorize most of my books as young adult fiction. If you can start with one demographic of readers and go from there, that may be a good start.

  4. Looking at the descriptions of your three novels I would say they fall into that difficult catch-all category ‘literary fiction.’ They’re too broad ranging to be penned into romance, historical fiction or so on (The Recluse Storyteller looks particularly defiant in terms of categorisation).

    But I think you’re overlooking something: you’re selling books and receiving great reviews. I’d worry less about identifying the genre and concentrate on making those reviews public. Word of mouth sells better than choosing the right classifications.

    And if you think categorising your work is hard try selling a contemporary paranormal dark comedy about a vampire rock band ‘hoax’ pursued by corrupt witches. (Toten Herzen Malandanti…!)

    1. Thanks so much for the thoughts. I do believe you are exactly right. I sometimes see these sites that want me to pigeon-hole my work and it can get a little frustrating. But I will shift my focus. Thanks for that. And I see the dilemma you have, as well! Best of luck.

  5. Genre can be a tricky thing to determine but I agree with Beth Caplin. Finding a common denominator might be the best way to go about trying to find your genre. Good luck!

  6. Every book has a genre. It might just be one you have to make up. I have similar trouble with my writing. A lot of my stuff his horror based with a twist of something ordinary. I love to mash up horror and the holidays and I find that those subjects can fit into the horror or holiday genre or the holiday horror genre. Just make sure that when you describe the book people know what they are getting into. If some one happened upon my story in the holiday section they would know it is about Christmas, but it also involves Zombies. That way they can pass or not. I hope this helps you a bit. Good luck with everything.

  7. Your books are compelling…and selling….and people are return-readers. Must you work on defining yourself into a specific catetory? Why is ‘fiction’ is too broad? Other authors I follow seem to be labeled ‘fiction writer’. Seems like you’ve got the recipe for readership and success. Isn’t that what will create your market more than a category?

    1. You are right. I’m much more comfortable with the title “fiction writer”, but some websites, when doing promotion and such, restrict your choices to narrow genres. Then I have to choose. Oh well, what can you do?

  8. You’ve received a lot of valuable comments and it sounds like you are on the right track anyway. but as always, I will add my two cents: 1) Your lack of easy categorization and those stellar review quotes are aspects to tout/stress; 2) I’ve encountered some of those websites that require narrow categorization and I ruled against using them because of that; 3) nonetheless there will of course be times when you must select a genre. I’ve struggled with this with my new novel, a speculative-fantasy-detective hybrid. One beta reader had great advice: stress the genre that attracts the most flexible readers. Genre readers can be very rigid in their expectations. Early reviews helped me refine the designations (and taught me there are genre sub-categories about which I remain gladly clueless).

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