Thursday, June 14, 2012

Word of Mouth

There was a focus in several articles over the last few days about the importance of word of mouth among self-publishers. Really, word of mouth is pretty important for any marketing venture, but especially for those of us that are crunched for time and funds. And, as a reader, word of mouth is perhaps the biggest reason for me to pick up a book. That isn't to say I just go for "popular" titles. Instead, I go for the books that my friends and family are reading. A lot of times (especially with my friends and family), we're not exactly reading popular things.

Personally, I think I'm a terrible reviewer. I pretty much like anything with words in it. This isn't to say I can't recognize superb quality when I see it, just that books that I've seen people rate as pretty "average" were fun reads. Also, I guess I sometimes struggle to expand on why I liked a book. If there's something particularly amazing, I can certainly pick it out, but otherwise you'd get something like: "I don't know, it was a fun read." Which is a terrible review. Even so, I try to at least give things stars on different sites when I read. Also, I'm a big fan of Goodreads. It's like a big, public, personal bookshelf, and I like to let my shelf do the talking.

Anyway, here are two articles that caught my eye. The first I found through The Passive Voice from Dave Farland. The other was from self-publishers Derek J Canyon, who is always generous with the advice. The parts that resonated with me, specifically?

From David:
As authors, we ought to be spending more time trying to connect with readers than with writers.
And from Derek:
Posting on forums, updating blogs, sending out emails, trying to get interviews and reviews on big websites, and so on takes a LOT of time. Every hour of promotion is one less precious hour the author has for writing the next book in the series you love.
I've mentioned before that my current marketing plan is to basically do no marketing for five years. Great plan, huh? Certainly it's reflected in my meager sales. Yet, I have two books and a novelette out there. I doubt I would have that much had a spent more time with marketing. I wish I could do both, but if I'm going to keep one thing, it's definitely going to be the writing.

At the very core, here is my rationale. If, ten years from now, I look back and say... man, I have all these books that I wrote and no one ever really purchased, that's not an awful place to be. Hopefully my writing will have improved. Hopefully I don't just suck. At the very least, I've seen projects through to their completion and given myself a chance. There is no shame in that (especially if you love writing anyway).

If I looked back and said... shoot, I wish I had more books. Unless I stumbled upon a magic book that catapults me to instant fame and riches (not likely even if I were chasing this full-time), then how far have I really gotten? I think I have better chance at success if I write more books than if I marketed the hell out of the few I have. At some point, I'll bet there's a gray area where I really should market what I have if I want to write more books. I'm not at that point yet.

Ineffective marketing is wasted time. Ineffective writing can still be a learning experience. At least that's my opinion. In the mean time, I read a whole bunch of blogs daily and am taking notes on what works for people.

My favorite marketing experience so far? Book bloggers. I have just a couple that I have a good relationship with, and I love sending them my books. They don't even have to write about them or hype them up. They're simply cool folks that have been supportive and enjoy reading. I wouldn't otherwise have met them had I not ventured out here. I hope that as the publishing dust settles, book bloggers continue to have an important (and hopefully increased) role.

Until then, support your favorite authors... at least with stars!


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