This blog post will probably get a lot of google hits just for the search engine friendly title but I have no answer that involves marketing or any other magic trick.
Selling your books through Social Media and traditional avenues without one of the big six behind you is really hard. There is no way around it. If you do sell those books, it’s probably not because your book is great (I’m not saying it’s not, but that is not the reason it’s selling) it is selling cause you’re really good at marketing and have targeted your audience well. Props to you. That is damn good skill to have right now in the digital age.
But what if you have a really good book that is unique not easy to package and sell (and by good, I will say: it is artistic, entertaining, and once again at least semi-original and not pandering to LCD) or many good books like that.
Keep doing the Social Media game, blog, guest blog, etc. (and if you have a budget ads can’t hurt) but if it is a good book, (I know we all think we write good to great books) so I will simply the definition even more and define it as: a book that is not boring when you go read it out loud to people.
If that is the case, congratulations, celebrate, and then go read it somewhere.
Read it as much as you can and sell the hell out of it.
Unless you live out in the middle of nowhere, start booking readings.
Hell, even go to open mics with books in your hand and get your hustle on. Have a damn “Square” for you phone so you can take credit cards.
I have seen only way sure way for me to sell books is to go read them live (also video tape those readings, you can put that on YouTube).
I have the utmost confidence in my books (I’m not saying they’ll win awards, though I have, but I’m confident in that they’re entertaining) but with SO many books to choose from, regular readers don’t want to take time on an unknown, but at a reading they are forced to hear you and forced to judge it and if they like they’ll buy it.
I am lucky. I was a musician first who doesn’t have a fantastic singing voice (I’m a middle class Lou Reed RIP) but I have some damn good stage presence and I know how to work a crowd.
I also write books that I and others find intelligent, entertaining, and unique–I’m not writing to keep my tenure or get into some journal 8 people will read. I’m writing to reach regular people and really be my own scene. I have no alliance to any group in the book world but myself, my muse, and my readers. Not a group guy, never will be.
I don’t care about awards, names, none of that stuff. I only care about writing the next book, and selling the one before that, and rinse, wash, repeat. That is it. I will not apologize to say I write to make money and play music to have fun and be more sexually attractive.
Yet, like many artists I’m not a social butterfly; I’m a moderate asshole, outspoken in bad Joe Bidenesque way, and not always a warm person to be around.
I am also an elitist and sometimes just misanthropic. I’m picky and I’m not good at faking it (though I’ve done it if I thought it would help to reach readers), but unless you really inspire me, I’m not going to chase you down, kiss your ass, and blah blah blah.
I rather write, I rather play music. I rather freelance and do bullshit jobs to pay the bills. I only have so much time in the day. In the end I’m not looking to “network”, I’m looking for other artists that give me mutual inspiration. Yes, the book world is a business, but I am an artist first, a business man second.
So, with me hesitant and shitty at playing “the game” the only clear way for me to sell books is to read them live. That is it. That is my answer to fellow young writers. Reading is the only answer I can offer you, cause it has only thing that has proven to work for me.
Like a musician you need to hustle and go get shows to get an audience to buy your EP’s and albums. So before you bitch about no one buying your book: do 50 readings with under 50 people and then see what happens.