Today, I’m joined by fellow fantasy writer, Morgan Smith, who is here to discuss the sales slump many independent authors have recently found themselves enduring and how not to alienate others with your social media promotion. Check it out below and get to know more about Morgan just under the post.
I was scrolling through my social media at about 6 a.m. one morning, when the truth hit me.
Maybe it was the tsunami of Twitter book promos, walling off any actual content that might have been there.
Maybe it was the umpteenth Facebook post from the same writer: six banner ads, three contests, a photo of a “swag bag” people could get by preordering the next book, four sad memes about no one ever leaving reviews, and we won’t even mention that heartfelt post about their commitment to writing as an “art”.
Maybe it was because it wasn’t limited to only one writer. Maybe it was the fact that this was magnified by at least four hundred other writers doing this.
Maybe it was because one of those writers was me.
But the truth hit just the same, with all the unexpected pain that stubbing your toe on the armoire at 3 a.m. when you are trying not to wake anyone, does.
Indie authors: We’re trying too hard, and we’re aiming our efforts in the wrong direction.
Do you think that the people who have been on your Facebook page since long before you ever typed “Chapter One” into Scrivener don’t know that you write? Do you think that all those links and cover reveals have utterly passed them by?
Do you think that the people who friended you after your first on-line book launch still remain utterly unaware that you’re a writer?
Honey, if they were going to buy your book, they would have, by now.
And, believe me, I know all about sales slumps. Heck: I’m having one now.
No, I don’t like it.
But harassing and annoying people on-line, reminding them endlessly about your book or books and treating your friends like one big pool of potential royalties…well, I mean, think about it. How would you feel?
There are three things to know here.
- Everyone has flat sales sometimes. Everybody. I bet Stephen King has days where not a single book of his sells, anywhere. Stop obsessively checking your Amazon Author Rating, and go for a walk.
- You need interesting and engaging content to keep people thinking what a smart cookie you are, and therefore they ought to read your books.
- The constant exhortations to !BUY MY BOOK! kinda probably has the reverse effect.
I know what the marketing gurus say. I also know that most of them are doing exactly what you are doing: inundating people online with so much sales crap that about 99% of the people receiving it ignore it completely. (The remaining 1% are probably too broke to use their services, anyway.)
I know that no matter how stellar their approach to marketing might be, or how earth-shatteringly useful and effective their advice is, I will never hear it…because they sound so desperate.
If they are desperate, how good can they be? says my little squirrel-brain.
And that’s what everyone thinks about your non-stop PR machine, with all that faux-confetti and ersatz champagne-corks going off on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Your mom is too nice to tell you this, but even she is scrolling past your posts without a second glance these days.
Relax. This is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
Create some actual content. Get people to think about you, as a person. Let them admire how well-crafted your posts and tweets are, on a whole range of subjects. Make new friends. Dazzle them with your wit and sparkle. And post about your books only when there really is something new and exciting to say. Sales will come, eventually.
In the meantime – write the next book.
Morgan Smith has been a goatherd, a landscaper, a weaver, a bookstore owner, a travel writer, and an archaeologist, and she will drop everything to travel anywhere, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Writing is something she has been doing all her life, though, one way or another, and now she thinks she might actually have something to say.
You can find Morgan’s novels below:
A Spell in the Country
Casting in Stone
(an unreliable memoir of the ‘60s)
On Tollswitch Hill – Stories from the Averraine Cycle