Sunday, May 05, 2013

Indie authors' expectations for advertising and marketing

I read through a lot of different online boards concerning fiction writing, publishing, and indie authors. I'm not even a member at some of these sites, and at others I rarely post, frankly because I'm tired of all the I-know-everything-and-my-way-is-the-only-way-to-success-and-if-you-don't-believe-every-word-I-say-you're-an-idiot idiots. I simply don't have time for people who feel the need to be overly pushy, who don't understand that the way they frame their arguments often can be as important as the arguments themselves.

Anyway, one topic I see coming up quite often, sometimes even daily, is advertising and marketing for indie authors. I've read about all the different approaches. I've seen the stats various authors have presented, which sites worked for them and which didn't. And I've followed the successes and failures of more than a few indie authors who have spent a fair amount of money on marketing and/or advertising. As far as I can tell, most indie writers are breaking even, more or less. Oh, a year ago I might have read about some indie selling thousands after a major promotion, but I'm not seeing that nowadays, not in the last few months or so.

I've spent a little money myself, just a little, on marketing, and I've not found any major success with it.

Also, I pretty much only tweet a few times a month about what I'm reading, or when I having something new available. Facebook I use more for social interaction, though I do announce when I have something new to read.

What it comes down to is, for me, is the advice of an old pro, Dean Wesley Smith, who says, "Write the next book."

Every time I put out a new book or e-book, my sales go up. My sales tend to reach a plateau of sorts and then to settle in. At least until Amazon or Google or somebody makes a major change in algorithms or something similar, and then I might have some work to do, or maybe not.

I'm not suggesting this will work for every indie writer, or those who are hybrids, part indie and part traditional. For some it might work, for others, maybe not.

But I guess I just don't see the benefits to all the effort and money being spent on advertising and marketing for indie authors. Not now. Maybe a year or two ago.

I'm sure I've missed some, but I no longer hear or read about major success stories because of advertising and marketing. Oh, I've read about plenty of sales increases after an advertising and/or marketing campaign, but then a month or so later the sales numbers seem to drop back down to where they were.

Where's the benefit in that? Okay, one great month of sales. Yippee! Go splurge when the money comes in. Then you're back to square one.

It's my impression too many indie authors, even some of the more serious ones who make their living as indies, are focusing upon instant gratification and not the long-term game. To some extent, this can be expected. It's human. But it's also a lousy way to run a business. Hell, just look at the world economy of the last dozen years, because it's all been "instant money, instant money" and never a long-term approach, and you can see where that has taken us.

There's nothing wrong with advertising and marketing, but in my opinion it should be part of a long approach, not a oh-boy-we're-going-to-be-the-next-big-thing approach. Because it doesn't seem to be working.

And why isn't it working? Because the indies are mostly in the e-book market, which is finally, slowly beginning to mature. Things are working their way out, and not always for the benefit of the individual authors.

The e-book market is still relatively new, and still faces a lot of changes over the coming decade, but one or two months of great sales doesn't mean an indie author will suddenly have a career. No, what they'll have is a house payment or two, or maybe a good week in Vegas.

I don't need a good week in Vegas. I need a retirement plan.

As an aside, Dean Wesley Smith also says not to waste time blogging, which is a general rule I'm obviously not following, but I blog more for myself than I do for others (though I'm glad to hear from anyone), to help me keep track of various things and to help me work out some thoughts of my own.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I do find blogging helps me get some sales. But a lot of it is that it lets me do things and try things I just want to. I've spent very little on advertising but when I have I've found very little bang for my buck.