The Root of Book Marketing

I was pulling some rather thick and determined ground cover off a bank the other day. Most of it came out without too much effort. A strong pull here, a few cuts with the lopper there, and I was able to untangle and tug the bank clean. Except for one particularly difficult root. No problem, I thought. I have all the tools I need. I got this! Here was my methodology:

A tug. It’s what worked for the others. This one? Barely budged it.

Snip. I cut around all the small root strands. Tug again. Nothing.

Shovel. I dug all around it and tried prying up from each angle. No luck.

Axe. I figured if I can get the axe head down around the base of the root, I could just chop it off. I swung the axe repeatedly and it seemed to bounce off it like it was made of rubber.

Pick. I used the long-handled pick to slice through the main root remaining. After repeated swings, I was sure it would come out.

Tug. Forty minutes later and it barely felt like I had done anything at all.

But I persisted. I would not allow this to defeat me.

Shovel. Snip. Dig. Snip. Tug. Pry. Swing. And finally, the beast gave up its soul and the gnarly stubborn thing was defeated. After much sweat. After many tools. After a variety of methods. After a prolonged persistence.

And after I had accomplished it, there was one thing going through my mind. Book marketing. Yeah, the root of all evil in my book.

Honestly, marketing is, for me, the most mundane, undesirable part of being a writer. Many times I’ve said to myself: why even bother. Just keep writing. This isn’t working. That isn’t working. Just give up.

But the root reminded me that life, like root extracting, like book marketing isn’t about one method. It’s about many methods, many tools, and many attempts over a sustained period of time.

If I gave up at AXE, that root would have won. If I only tried the shovel, I would have lost the battle. It was the combination of tools and attempts over time which did the trick.

What do you need to do in order to unlock your book marketing success? What have you tried? Keep doing what works. Keep trying new methods. Keep looking for new tools. And keep tugging, no matter what. That’s ultimately the key. The root never would have come out if I had thrown in the towel. You also won’t solve book marketing by allowing the root to remain in the ground. It’s a constant fight, but it will be worth it. One day.

I scream UNCLE! Okay, Back to Marketing

I recently posted how I really don’t care about marketing.

I do however care about my writing.

I also would love to be able to “retire” someday and write full-time.

I guess that means that I need to start caring about marketing. So I’ve decided to come back from my little anti-marketing hiatus for a couple of reasons:

  1. Grit. I should display it since I talk about it a lot. I’m in this writing thing for the long-haul, not for some quick get-rich scheme. (which certainly isn’t working if that was my plan)
  2. I can’t hide behind my busy-ness forever. Yes, I’m always busy. I teach full-time. I direct drama. I write and produce drama. I have a family. I have a writing routine. I have endless writing projects on the horizon. Yes, I am busy. I always will be, but that in itself cannot be my excuse for not marketing. I have to move forward.
  3. I’d like to find some new readers.
  4. I’d like to sell some new books.
  5. I’d like to get exposure for my new release, which I really like.

So here’s my commitment to myself – set a date and get started!

So I’m going to be organizing my first big push for my new release sometime in September. It will probably be a 99 cent Kindle sale for “A Love Story for a Nation.” Let’s do multiple days. Let’s go ahead and buy a bunch of advertising and see what happens!

I’ll also be hitting the blog circuit and asking for additional reviews. If anyone is interested in reviewing my latest, let me know. I’ll also be looking to do some guest posts and other promotional ideas as the opportunities beacon.

I have always believed that success comes from the commitment to the long-haul. It’s time to get back to doing it.

Much more on this promotion in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all who have continually supported my writing endeavors.


Another Lesson for Indies: “Restaurant, you have one chance to impress me.”

A new restaurant opened up in my neighborhood quite a few months ago. From the outside it is attractive, a cafe-throwback, a large outdoor blackboard with a hand-written “Open” sign, a large stack of firewood neatly arranged into the exterior of the restaurant, and attractive indoor and outdoor seating. Even the signboard was well designed with fonts that popped out, easily pulling in the attention of passerbyers. The initial reports about food quality I heard from several people was not so complimentary, so I decided to skip trying it and stuck to the tried and true.

Over the course of several months, I heard a few good things about the restaurant, still mixed with some negative opinions. But yesterday, as I found myself alone for lunch and most of the other restaurants around were closed for Chinese New Year, I decided to give it a try. I realized up front what I was doing – I was giving them the benefit of the doubt that had been sowed in my mind. They had one and only one chance to turn those negatives around and make me a believer and a loyal customer.

One chance. Were they up to the challenge?

First, the ambiance was nice. The walls were decorated with some beautiful photographic art which was actually for sale for rather exorbitant prices. But I wasn’t there for the art. It’s all about the food.

The prices were do-able, not the cheapest, but they were reasonable enough.

What to order?

For me, when testing a restaurant here in Malaysia, it’s all about the hamburger. If they can make an excellent hamburger then I know I can trust them with other food. It’s not difficult to make a great burger IF you start with great ingredients. And that’s always the issue here in Malaysia. Most of the beef just isn’t tasty. It’s dry, boring, and tasteless.

So I ordered the cheeseburger and waited. It wasn’t too long when it was served on a round wooden platter. The presentation was quite appealing, actually. They had obviously put some thought into their restaurant design and experience.

But as we all know, all of that stuff – the presentation, the ambiance – is peripheral. I would know within one bite whether I would ever go there again. They had one bite to prove to me that their food was worth my money. One chance.

I took a good healthy bite and I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be back at that restaurant again. Why? They had shirked on the quality of the beef. It was dry, boring, and tasteless. I finished the meal, paid, nodded my appreciation to the waitress, and walked out knowing that they unfortunately didn’t earn me as a customer.

I think any indie author can see the analogy working here. We also have one chance. The peripherals can be meaningful and helpful to an author. Book cover, of course, can attract readers, like a well designed signboard at a restaurant. A well-formatted book can create a good ambiance for the reader to make them feel at home. Book reviews can either drive people to your book or keep them away, much like the word or mouth from a restaurant customer. But all of this matters little when a reader actually sits down to taste our writing – all that really matters at that point is if your writing is delicious – does the story bring them in – do the characters reach into the life of the reader? One bite and the reader will know if they will be a long-time customer of your literary buffet.

So while it’s important to think about all aspects of writing, nothing is every more important than the actual writing. That’s where the beef is.

An Interesting Quote from Ecclesiastes for Indie Authors – 2

Yesterday I posted this quote from Ecclesiastes 7:

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”

I gave one lesson from it for indie authors. Here’s the link to Lesson 1 from yesterday: HERE!

Lesson 2 for Indie Authors: Patience is better than pride.

Oh my. If there is ever a group of anxious people who need to learn to practice patience, it’s indie authors. If there is ever a group people who are prone to pride, it’s indie authors.

Let’s tackle the pride first. Pride, of course, isn’t all bad. It’s fine to pat oneself on the back when a book is finished or if one receives a great review. But the unhealthy pride can jump up and bite you pretty quickly if you are left closed off to criticism and suggestion. And this comes with the territory. After all, we aren’t called independent authors for no reason. We are fiercely individualistic, are confident in our skills, and know exactly the type of story we want to tell. But without proper input from others, we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. We can turn off readers and put off reviewers with a prideful attitude. If everything is always about ME-ME-ME, it can get tiring pretty quickly. This is the sharp two-edged sword of promotion. An indie author must wield it skillfully, inflicting the least amount of annoyance onto readers while trying to get the message of your book across. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s extremely difficult. I struggle with this a lot. I hate the promotional aspect of selling books, but I understand how important the presence on social media is and how one has to put oneself out there in front of readers if one ever wants to be discovered. It can build one’s pride to unhealthy levels.

And this is where patience comes in. Patience is probably the virtue most needed by indie authors. Writing and publishing is most definitely a marathon, not a sprint. If success is ever achieved, it will happen in the long term, not as an immediate flash in the pan.

When do indie authors need patience?

When waiting for someone to review their book.

When waiting for the next sale.

When waiting for the next promotion to roll along.

When waiting for the next writing period.

In other words, indie authors need patience at all times.

Now I have to figure out a way to minimize the pride and increase my level of patience. I’ll let you know if it works.


Plugging Away on Novel #3: How much time between releases?

Summer break for a teacher. Is there anything better in the world?  It has been great to finally have time to write. I’m currently working on novel #3 even though novel two hasn’t even been released yet. It’s a little trick I like to have up my sleeve. Have the next one complete before I release the previous one.

Why do I do it this way?  I’m not exactly sure. I guess it’s a way of taking the pressure off.  I never have to say, “Oh no, this new release is going well; what am I going to follow it  with?” No pressure. The next one is done.

Besides that, it allows me to appropriately space out my releases as much as I want. What is the correct length between releases? Crucial question. The answer? I don’t know. I do know that I want to give each book enough time to find its footing to, hopefully, help the release of the next one. Beauty Rising released in December 2012. Six months later there are still plenty of avenues of promotion yet to be explored. Reviews keep accumulating (now 60 of them on Amazon) and there are so many things still to do, so it doesn’t make much sense to cramp a book’s style by overshadowing it with a new one until the timing is right.

But another thing I noticed about successful authors, they all have multiple books that have previously been released. That’s crucial. No one wants to be a one-hit-wonder, I’m compelled not to wait too much longer until I release The Recluse Storyteller.  Approximate release date is less than four months. Yes, I’m excited about it.

My first draft of the storyteller was written in the summer of 2012.  Then I let it sit for six months when I decided to finally release Beauty Rising, which has kept me very busy. In July, I will get back to my final revisions on the Storyteller. By then, I’ll have heard from my advanced readers and be able to put together a final copy. I even have the cover finished thanks to my resident artist of the year, Joyce Lee. I can’t wait to share it with you. Someday.

But for me, what’s nice to know is that when I finally get back to The Recluse Storyteller, I’ll have already completed the first draft of novel number three.

And that’s all right with me.

So that’s how I currently do things as an indie author. What about you?