After @gioclairval posted this:
on FB, it got me thinking again about all this book marketing nonsense. Which is why the photo is more appropriate than I first realized. Mark Coker is the founder of SmashWords and basically that post tells why he began the service. Because it is a service no matter how you look at it. But because of that service and Amazon's Kindle, the whole book world seems to have gone crazy.

Originally I was going to title this 'what the heck?' Because I felt like that after I'd trolled through some of Twitter and FB, overwhelmed by the number of people pushing their books. It wasn't just that, however, because you have to advertise to get noticed. Going back to the original article and some of the responses to it on FB, it seems the only conclusion people came to is that to sell books you have to put out money. On advertising, on giveaways, on jewellery, for goodness sake. Yes, not only do folk lure others onto their sites with all this, but shinies as well.
Good Lord.
At conventions I have often seen people give away bookmarks, and that is a lovely idea. But socks and jewellery and...
So now, not only do I have to compete against a million other books, I have to start knitting and etsy?
How lovely, you might think as a reader. As a writer I am thinking, if I add up all the man hours it took me to write the book, add in a marketing professional and an editor, travel expenses and jewellery...the time I spend on twitter etc...
No. Just. No.
When do these people have time to write?
Look. Book giveaways I can see. Dropping the price of a book to encourage purchasers while you are finding your feet? Yes. Writers don't expect to make money on the first few books. Blog tours and talking, both locally and at conventions. It *is* a case of getting your name out there, getting noticed, hopefully because people enjoyed the BOOK, not because it came with shinies.
The shiny, surely, are the words you have written for others to enjoy. Is that no longer enough?
Has everybody gone mad? Or am I incredibly innocent?

Today's photo: Tank in a dust storm - Afghanistan - Richard Curnow



02/05/2013 8:22am

You're not naive, and you have a lot of company when it comes to looking at the madness. It's kind of fascinating to watch. :)

Shinies don't sell books, of course. Books sell books. Buzz will sell books. Great cover art and blurbs sell books. Most of what writers try to do on Twitter and FB and GR doesn't sell books. But it might get the author's name out there...sometimes negatively. :)

One of my careers that actually made money was in airport public relations. I was in charge of advertising and shinies. :D Some shinies were more popular than others, and some were in high demand. None of them brought new airlines, passengers, service or highly desirable publicity (i.e. reviews in high circulation newspapers or magazines/TV news) to the airport. All the shinies did--or were meant to do--was provide fun ways to get the airport's name out there, give it a positive association. And that's the deal with shinies.

I have a book cover I think would look great on either a mug or note cube. Those things cost money, though. I might actually make up a few (a few being 100, the minimum order) but not this year. I'm only going to one convention, so there's not much return on that there note cube. I have bookmarks already. Bookmarks are inexpensive but they won't be sitting out on someone's desk and getting looked at. Shinies are a numbers game.

I think some writers get wrapped up in the idea that if they promote themselves enough they can become bestsellers. Just use the magic formula and success will fall upon you. But that's not how it works. Savvy people know that, which is why the real money is being made by those folks selling services to desperate writers--and publishing is a service--not masses of writers trying to sell books..

What sells books? Good writing or exciting writing (which need not be good, but people want it). Buzz. A knock it out of the park blurb or a book cover readers want to leap into. And a story that gets people talking. A great review on a genre site with high traffic. That's it. That's why I don't do a lot of marketing on the internet. I let people know my books are published and available. My blog is there for people looking for me on search engines and I have info on my books. Everything else--the blog tours and interviews and Facebook and Twitter--is to build up recognition and goodwill in my community. I find out about stuff that way. Anthology calls, new publishers/editors, and who to stay away from. Every once in a while I click with another writer or reader and maybe they buy a book. :) But that's not why I do it. What works best for me is writing new books, finding new readers, and having a damn lot of fun telling my stories.

02/05/2013 8:44am

Just quickly before I have to go to work.

What works best for me is writing new books, finding new readers, and having a damn lot of fun telling my stories.


I can see some of it, for sure. I am not *that* innocent :) And I guess the aspect I didn't look at was authors having fun doing it. I was just bewildered by it all.

02/05/2013 4:50pm

I am not sure why this has such a knee jerk reaction for me. I think part of it is, that I am not a pushy person or an over-confident one. And what I see are lots of people on Amazon all giving each other what I call 'fake' reviews. to boost their popularity. Note the wording 'their'. Because it ceases to be about the book and only about the numbers. It's become a desperate race by desperate people just be noticed.
And I don't like that.
I haven't any cause to be holier than thou and I am in the same boat swimming against the same tide as everyone else. And I feel even smaller when I see what others are doing.
It used to be that we were told to steer clear of anyone in the industry who asked for money up front, that the money should always go to the author. Yet here are authors putting out money left right and center to publish.
And this is what Smashwords and Kindle have achieved.
The huge 'but' here is that they have done a marvellous thing. They've shaken up an industry which needed it. I totally applaud that freedom and that change. I applaud those who have had the courage to put their work out there for the world to see.
It just creates an irritating dilemma for me when I see obviously fake reivews talking up a book which really doesn't deserve it.
I guess at some point it will all sort itself out. It will be interesting to see what happens and which way things will go.

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