Book marketing for authors is still a widely unknown phenomenon. And as such, a lot of authors still don't quite get how book marketing should work. Most of the posts, tweets, and pins you make advertising your new book for sale go largely ignored by a lot people — even bookworms and friends like me. Oh sure, you may get the occasional retweets, shares, and a few people may even go ahead and make a purchase. It's not that the rest of us don't want you to succeed; on the contrary, most of us want to see you succeed. Most of us can't wait until we see that announcement that you've made it onto a best seller's list. Any best seller's list. So why isn't it working?
So, if all your friends and family members want to see you succeed, why are we ignoring your advertising? Here are some of the top reasons I have actively ignored pleas on social media.
That's not why we're on social media.
No one joins social media because they want their friends to sell stuff to them. No one created their Twitter accounts hoping all the authors would start tweeting about sales and book releases. And no one ever hopped on Instagram hoping to see photo after photo after promotional photo of every book ever about to be released.
And I'm pretty sure you didn't join social media just so you could try to market that book. Right?
We're there to see what you're up to, to get to know you better, and to follow along with your journey. We signed up so we could stay in touch with our friends and family, and make new friends. We followed your fanpage on Facebook or Twitter so we could connect with you. So if you want us to pay attention to you, pay attention to us.
It's shaming or guilting us for not buying.
I'm sure you've seen those posts flying around. “You should be buying local instead of buying from major retailers,” or “why would you support major publishing houses instead of your own friends?”
I'll tell you why we make purchases from major publishing houses — because they are selling books we're interested in. Not that we wouldn't be interested in your book, but we don't like being judged for our buying habits.
You shamed our reading habits.
I have reading preferences, so I understand how people will buy a book from one genre and completely ignore another genre. In fact, I used to actively avoid anything in the romance genre — wouldn't even go near that section in libraries or bookstores. And there are a lot of books I read that others wouldn't go near. For example, I am a huge fan of the epic, high fantasy novels — you know the ones, those 600+ pages of elves and wizards? Yea. Not everyone likes those.
So, in case you're wondering, there are plenty of books — even popular books that have sat on best-selling lists for years — I have not read. Nor do I have any desire to read them. But you know what? Other people have read them. A lot of other people have read them. Not one of them should be ashamed of it.
You can't stop talking about how excited you are.
You know what? You should be excited. You wrote a book!! That's freaking amazing! But you know what else? I don't care how excited you are. That might sound mean, but it would be weird if you finished and released a book and weren't excited. Yet every time I turn around, I see someone's ad, and they all start the same way: “I'm so excited to tell you all about my latest book!!”
Don't get me wrong, I'm very glad you're excited. It's just that I don't get excited by your excitement. Telling me that you're excited to tell me something won't get me excited. Tell me more about your book. Tell me why I should be more excited about your book. Why am I going to love it?
Why do I need to drop what I'm doing right now and click on that link to go buy your book?
You won't. stop. asking.
I go to some author pages, and literally every, single post is a promotion for one or more of his or her books. Check them out on Twitter? Request after request to buy their book. That's all they do is ask people to buy their books. A lot of times they don't even really say what the book is about, just a quick sentence or blurb and a link to Amazon. I mean, there has to be something else in your life that you want to talk about. Right? So talk about some of those other things. Share some memes, make a few jokes — talk to me.
And do you know why we ignore these tactics? Because they're selfish. As an author, I do understand how important your sales are to you. I do understand that it is your livelihood — heck most people understand that it is your livelihood. It's not about us not wanting you to pay your bills or feed your kids. It's about us not wanting to feel like we aren't anything more than numbers to you.
Marketing is not easy. And learning how to do it effectively takes a lot of time. And every time you think you've finally got a handle on it, something changes. Demands, expectations, search engine algorithms…something. It's hard to keep up. But one thing will always remain the same, people don't like to be sold to. They want to be talked to.