Listen to this story
I don’t care how many times you hit your Amazon page to stare at your book, or your name, or your ranking. We all do it. There is no greater joy — except opening your Kindle and seeing your book as a reading suggestion.
Dreams do come true, and if you’re among the lucky ones to have your book magically attach to The Handmaid’s Tale, you get the bonus of watching the money flow in and your book staying in the top spot for a year.
You can wake up now.
That only happens in webinars and fairy tales. Take your pick. If you want your book to succeed, you have to push it up a steep incline, alone, with rocks in your pocket. There is so much to do, and if your private publicist, assistant, and chauffeur are busy, you better get cracking.
Anyone who says they published a book and it became an instant bestseller must be living in the world they created on paper. Millions of books are published yearly, a good portion of them by traditional publishing houses with teams of professionals promoting the author.
Don’t you love when people tell you all you need is to get on a morning show, where Anthony Mason or Gayle King can trade quips with you about your fascinating story? Do you have dreams of a cozy talk with Oprah?
Getting on one of these shows, as well as onto the New York Times Best Sellers list, is about as rare as the purple dragon you wrote about—and just as elusive.
If you want your book to be seen, you have to roll up your sleeves and live, eat, and breathe promotion. Most of the writers I speak to often groan, “I’m a writer. I don’t do marketing.” That’s like saying, “I want a baby, but I don’t do diaper changes.” It doesn’t work like that.
The bulk of the author population I’ve met have limited funds and access to promoting and marketing their book. This is where the smart part about not quitting your day job comes in. You have to use the resources available.
Press announcements, mass emails, and blog tours are great ways to get the ball rolling. Networking leads to mailing lists, which may result in reviews. There are a million ways to find people to read your book—and no, they don’t want to buy it, but you do need the reviews.
Reviews are the building blocks of sales. In fact, the more reviews you have, the better, even the bad ones. But it’s not as easy as reinventing a Tupperware party into a book review party and asking all your friends to write about your novel. Amazon can sniff out fake reviews, and they will delete them.
You have to join the community, immerse yourself in the culture, and learn the assorted tricks of the trade. If you plan to write your book and leave it to languish in the bottomless pit of triple- or quadruple-digit rankings on Amazon, fine. Be realistic. But if you want your book read, you have to tell people about it.
If you took the time to write it, then take the time to promote it. It’s part of the entire experience—almost a rite of passage, like the first dance at your wedding or dipping your Oreo in ice-cold milk. Sure, you can eat the Oreo alone, but dipping it in milk gives it so much more!
Promotion changed my life. Each lead gave way to new opportunities that taught me how to broadcast my products. Some cost money, and sometimes the investment was time and elbow grease.
Either way, you have to settle in and be prepared to worm your way into everyone’s computer. It’s not “if you write it they will buy it,” but rather “if they see it, they will have to have it.”
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