Is Book Marketing like Snorkeling in a Septic Tank?

Sewage Treatment Plant in England

I have been wrestling with this issue for years. Do I defile myself by immersing my soul (and body) into the odoriferous swamp of  book peddling? Is bookselling the sleazy activity inappropriate for decent people that I think it is? Why is it so off-putting?

Look at my email inbox. As a good, modern Internet marketer, I belong to a multitude of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter  writers’, readers’, and marketing  groups, as well as subscribing to individuals’ and groups’ blogs. And sites like Pixel of Ink, ENT, and BookBub. I get around three or four hundred emails a day. That’s after scrubbing my list of non-essentials. This is what the emails are like, except most aren’t intentionally funny:

I had to share the latest 5 star review from my new book entitled, POOPSIE SPANKS A POODLE: ‘Wow. This is a really good book. Great character development. You just feel for that poodle! You’re getting to be a better writer, Sandy. I’ll read everything you write!!’ Mom

“WOO-HOO! I JUST GOT MY 10,000,000th TWITTER FOLLOW! I broke their counter! Next, I’ll take over the world!”

“Here’s a foolproof system to sell your book on Amazon. Only requires $99 up front and lifetime celibacy.”  God

“God may promise you a good deal, but I deliver. Want all 5 star reviews? That can be arranged.” Satan

“Hi everyone! Please check out my Facebook  author page and give me a Like. When you’re done with that, could you go to my Amazon author page and Like it, too? And on Google +, there’s a  . . .  And on Twitter . . .  I’m also in a contest. Could you drop by GoodReads and vote? Pretty, pretty please? Plus, it’s my birthday. Could you send a cake?” Mona I’ve-Never-Heard-of-You-in-my-Life

“5 stars! Wow! Was this book hot! My Kindle ignited. Also the house.”

They go on like that, hundreds a day, many from the same person, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” “Me! Me! Me!” “My Book!” “Nothing else matters in the universe, so buy my book.” “Gimme! Gimme!” “He is HOT! She is HOT! Their dog is HOT!” Day after day. Vile communications pitched at . . . whom? Who would buy anything with this type of selling technique? It absolutely grosses me out. Because of this spewing of egotism, I haven’t promoted my stuff for maybe six months. My sales show it, too. This stream of verbiage must do something, but at what personal cost to those sending and receiving it?

Your better marketing articles say this behavior is marketing suicide. But the emails keep pouring in.

How to market a book? I dunno. I’ve been doing it for years and haven’t a clue. I’ve had friends say, “But your marketing is so good!” Meaning whatever I send out is beautiful and tasteful. But it doesn’t ignite my bottom line the way I want.

This is an example of the tasteful and elegant graphics that have my friends thinking I'm a great marketer. This actually happened: I couldn't get my sale to go away. Even Amazon couldn't help.

The good old days really were the good old days. My first book came out in 2006. Marketing was much easier in those early days. You didn’t have to do much more than have a great cover, a bunch of killer reviews, and a few national awards. Bingo! Selling success.

My first novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, rose to the number 1 position in three categories of Mysticism and cruised around the 1,500 level in the Kindle store for a year. I did no promoting and didn’t think there was anything unusual about the book’s performance.

Hah! I wish I’d known how to take screenshots then. I’d have a record of those fabulous numbers. (The screenshot is the modern author’s best friend. After your mammoth promotional campaign lands you in the #1 Bestseller spot for fifteen minutes, you can stare at the screen shot afterward to remember the glory. You can only do that if you took it, of course.)

Now, it’s not so easy. The problem is the number of books coming out. How does an excellent, well-edited book, with a killer cover and award-winning author get noticed?
Seems like it should rise automatically. Forget that.

I’ve read three books recently that offer a defense against the tsunami of eBooks flooding Amazon. I recommend them heartily. They are:

After reading these books, I felt hope that I could get this marketing thing down. I had a definite direction. In Let’s Get Visible, Gaughran talks about Amazon algorithms and how to use them to your benefit. Reading this was like finding the Holy Grail. Both of his books above are worth memorizing.

Joanna Penn handles the “marketing is sleazy and degrading” issue and shows you how to approach the activity in a civilized fashion. Joanna says she’s introverted. (I doubt she could be as introverted as me and be in international speaking sensation.) But she’s accomplished great things including writing careers in fiction and nonfiction, blogging, and international speaking.

My initial reaction to the three books was relief and joy at having found concrete advice and a path to follow. By the time I got to the end of each, I was more like, “Whoa. This is a lot. This means serious work . . . When do these people sleep?” When I knew what success required, I felt depressed.

But the feelings didn’t last. I have a pressing need to practice the stuff in those books. Starting now. If you’re interested, links to my web page and Amazon Author Page are down below, as is a link to In Love by Christmas: A Paranomal Romance, which blasted it’s way to the top of the charts in a bunch of categories, ending up ranked in eleven Amazon categories just this week. Woo-ha!

In Love by Christmas is a paranormal romance according to the industry definitions of those terms. It’s a romance, in that the relationship drives the story and is its most important element. It’s paranormal in that a few of the characters have supernatural abilities. The hero, Leroy Watches Jr., is a shaman who can do all sorts of things, often with disastrous results. It’s not your paranormal romance with naked men  and dragons on the cover. (My cover artist gave me that description of the genre based on her experience designing covers.)

Oh, let’s go all the way. Here’s a video about In Love by Christmas. If there’s anything I like to do more than write, it’s make videos. This is my masterpiece and my Happy Holidays 2014 greeting to you:


IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS: A PARANORMAL ROMANCE – Noel – Montreal Version +
from Sandy Nathan on Vimeo.
Leroy Watches Jr. is a shaman whose Power sometimes makes things worse. Despite his flaw, he must save his soul mate from her addictions, her father, and Evil Incarnate, or she’ll be damned forever.
Trying to unite with his true love, Leroy embarks on a pilgrimage that takes him to the highest levels of European society. As he travels, his shamanic Power grows. So does the Dark Lord’s hatred of him.
His prospective father-in-law demands that Leroy and Cass be in love by Christmas. Can they be?

All the best in your publishing endeavors. Remember, if facing the public is too much, hide under your bed. You’ll find me right beside you.

So long for now,

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3)

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3). My new book, and Amazon #1 Bestseller in Metaphysical Fantasy.

SANDY NATHAN, award-winning and #1 bestselling author of In Love by Christmas, and a bunch more. You can find them on my Amazon Author Page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Responses to “Is Book Marketing like Snorkeling in a Septic Tank?”

  1. Heh heh. Love your title. I was just thinking of the marketing insanity today when I went to a few FB groups and every post was a “download my book” link. I started to wonder if it’s even worth doing as there are so many of them it’s hard to take notice of one book in particular. Every marketing book I’ve read still doesn’t seem to capture how to get noticed, although I like Dean Wesley Smith’s approach best. I think the most effective marketing is word of mouth. That’s how many books take off.

  2. Sandy Nathan says:

    Hi, Eleni! Thanks for stopping by. I have heard of Smith, haven’t read his work. I’ll take a peek. I think Let’s Get Digital is a masterpiece. Gaughran has done tremendous research. Well, I like all three books. That’s why I plugged them! Back to my email list.

  3. Sandy, you have such a fabulous sense of humor! I love the competing promises of five star reviews from God and Satan. But even five stars don’t seem to do the trick. My novel Terminal Ambition has 86 reviews: 51 five star, 30 four star, 3 three star, 1 two star and 1 one star. Still, it sits in the doldrums. I’ll be eagerly watching you role out your marketing campaign for the Earth’s End Trilogy and hope to learn a thing or two from you.

  4. admin says:

    Kate, you’ll definitely get my responses as I Earth’s End away. My reviews are similar, across all the books. Maybe not so many, but way up there in stars. What works? Who the **** knows? I am scheduling a talk with Scott Grace. Haven’t tried that.

  5. Thank you so much for this. It may be THE most important blog post I have read regarding marketing. I can get so down in the dumps over this issue. I teach full time too… Balancing things…and not wanting to,spend my life looking at a computer screen…has been challenging. I am very much an introvert too.

    • admin says:

      I’m so glad you found “Snorkeling” valuable. That’s my reward for writing it. Writing is a hard road. I get emails from professionals all the time, “I had a successful career in astrophysics. I was top of my field. Then I got the idea for a book.” And then she wrote it and couldn’t get an agent. “Is self-publishing hard?” she asks.
      I really do get emails like that. I want to tell them that I was a successful economist . . . We have to protect ourselves. Limit the amount time before the screen. I made an appointment with Scott Kalecstien Grace, too. His free 1/2 hour session. I’ll report how it goes.
      Thanks very much for writing, Alethea.

  6. How well I know the sleazy feel of indie marketing: the filth that won’t wash off! This post is SO true–and I thank you for the positive direction you share here!

    I adore the title of this post!

  7. Sandy Nathan says:

    I want to tell everyone that I had my free session with Scott Grace that I mentioned above. It was amazing. I’m writing a blog article on it. He is so POSITIVE! And he sang me a song he made up just for me at the end. I don’t remember the lyrics, but one like was something like, “my soul doesn’t live on Amazon.com . . .” He made it sound really good.

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