This little piggy’s going to market (part 1)

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It has seemed to me for a while that, if I’m serious about this writing malarkey, then I’m going to have to jump into marketing. It’s no use at all just whispering into the darkness and expecting everyone, somehow, to find me. When I used Createspace to produce Three Caterpillars, it was with the intention of starting to explore that whole area.

I do, however, have some misgivings.

First of all, I cannot get past the fact that promoting myself to friends and family – the obvious place to start – feels incredibly wanky. There really is no other word for it. I, like many other writers, have enormous difficulty saying “Look at me, look at me, you must look me!” That is, after all, why we’re writers rather than performers. And since my people are mainly techy or sporty and have no particular interest in writing of any sort, let alone my feeble little attempts, the wanky feeling is intensified ten-fold.

The second problem I have is that, despite “everyone” saying that you “must” do it, I’m not yet convinced that all this marketing actually works. Which makes me very loathe to spend a significant amount of time or money on it. A woman of my acquaintance produced a YA fantasy trilogy via a vanity publishing deal. It wasn’t the best written set of books in the world but it wasn’t dreadful and she certainly knew her genre. It firmly ticked all the YA fantasy boxes.

As is ever her way, she threw money and resources at this trilogy in a way that makes Donald Trump’s presidential campaign look like an exemplar of modest restraint. There were three beautiful paperbacks, ebooks and audiobooks, a professionally-designed website about her whole particular world, Facebook and Amazon advertising, friends writing five star reviews. It was a masterclass in marketing. Whatever she could do, she did. By my reckoning, she must have spent – seriously – about fifteen thousand quid.

It didn’t work.

She sold a few hundred. But, as far as I can see, no more than that and – more significantly – I’d be prepared to bet that at least 95% were bought by people she knew. The only Amazon review that wasn’t by a friend of hers was distinctly lacklustre.

So it seems that even exemplary self-promotion won’t work if your content isn’t up to scratch. I’m left wondering whether any kind of marketing is worth its expense.

As of right now, I don’t have the answers to any of this. If I did, maybe I would already be a best-selling author. I have, however, at least come up with a working, if vague, plan.

My first problem is relatively simple to address. It finally dawned on me – doh! – that I can simply leave my own circle out of it. Set out my stall and tell the general public. If anyone I know happens to find me and is interested enough to follow, then that’s lovely. But I’m not going to push myself onto my friends and family and expect them to run with it.

The second issue, well, that’s going to be a matter of trial and error, I think. I’ve set myself a meagre budget and have started with the obvious things. Here’s where you’ll find me:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Come on over, you’ll be very welcome.

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