Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Writing is a business! If you want to be a writer who sells books and makes a living from putting pen to paper you need to accept that as fact. As a writer, my books are a product. My publisher is the manufacturer and distributor of that product. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever else I sell my books are the retail outlets. And as with any other business you have to market your product to a target audience, which can be rather difficult and feel like a constant battle. And you, as the writer, are the brand behind the product.
Writing is a highly competitive business. There are over a hundred thousand new books hitting the shelves every year and getting yourself heard above the screams of other writers is sometimes like farting against a thunderstorm. In a world of free downloads and pirates it’s becoming more and more difficult to get people to pay a reasonable amount of money for your product. It’s a world where people are willing to spend more on their tall skinny latte than on a book you spent years working on. All these factors can lead some writers to desperate acts like bombarding unsuspecting readers with spam messages on Facebook or paying for reviews which don’t work. In fact those kamikaze tactics will only serve to turn readers off. I know it turns me off.
So … what’s a writer to do? How do I as a writer get my product/books noticed by as many people in my target audience?
First thing is to identify that target audience or market. Mine is obviously horror fans. People who enjoyed Stephen King and Clive Barker etc. Then it’s a case of letting them know I exist by getting reviews and interviews on respected horror websites like This is Horror, and Killer Aphrodite etc. I need to reach as wide an audience within my target market as possible, which means getting on to as many of those sites as possible. But those sites will only give me a decent review if I have a quality product. Which brings me to the most important factor in the business – You have to have a good product! Your book needs to be the best that you can make it. It also has to look good. A professional, quality cover will get you a long way, because people really do judge a book by its cover.
Which brings me to another point – Professionalism. As a writer you are also a professional. If you get a crappy review you don’t get to be a whiny bitch about it. You suck it up. Reviewers are just people whose opinions are clouded by their own issues. But if you only get shitty reviews you have to take the hint, learn from it, and probably write a better book next time around.
Have a look at what Joe Konrath says on selling ebooks. He says it pretty well.
Another thing I do is have business cards with my website and twitter address. That way whenever someone asks me what I do and where they can find out more about my books I just hand them my business card. It’s those small little things that can help. Sometimes it’s just about having a conversation with a potential reader that will get you a book sale.
Sometimes sales figures can be incredibly depressing and there will be times when you’ll want to throw in the towel. I know, I have those moments on a pretty regular basis especially when a family member refers to my business as a hobby. But you can’t give up. It takes time and energy to build any business. You just have to keep producing quality products.