One of the hardest things about being an Independent Author is marketing your books. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies out there that are willing to take your money to market your book with no guarantee of a return on your investment. Some of them do offer you your money back if you don’t sell anything which is nice, but it doesn’t get your book or books sold.
Don’t take this as complaining. I am telling you this because I have had other authors ask me what I do to sell my books and what are the ‘best’ marketing strategies. What I am about to reveal will probably be a little disheartening for some of you, there are no ‘best’ strategies, only better-hyped ones.
Traditional publishers have advantages that the indie author does not. Most of the traditional publishing houses have large networks for distribution of their products. Because they have so many offerings, they can afford to do the kind of marketing that most of the rest of us can only dream about.
If you are like me, you don’t have $10,000.00 to start a full-blown marketing campaign. Imagine if you could saturate newspapers nationwide, get a few radio and television ads running and even a billboard or two. For the majority of indie authors, we are stuck with social media in one form or another.
Amazon has their ‘pay-per-click’ ads through Amazon Marketing Services, but even that is a form of social media as you have to go online to access and see the ads. Some of these can be wildly successful, but those are the exception, not the rule.
Many who dream of living off the proceeds from becoming an author have been crushed by the lack of the ability to get the word out about one’s books. To live like this requires the sales of tens of thousands of books per year. You can calculate it out for yourself. If the average price of the book on Amazon is $4.00, your royalty is about $2.80. To earn an income of $80,000.00 per year (I am not going to live at the poverty level, we need to be moderately comfortable), you would need to sell over 28,500 books!
There are success stories out there. They are the rarity. The game of ‘Best Seller’ status can be won by merely choosing a niche for your books that no one else is using, it doesn’t mean that the books are selling well.
The only real winners are the places like Amazon. They don’t have to actually produce anything. Their job is to digitally store and then process sales. For that, on a $4.00 book, they take $1.20 per book plus ‘delivery fee.’ They have no stake in whether your book sells well, they have millions of books that are sold every day. They would like your books to sell because they make more money, but it isn’t as though they depend on you. And don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for Amazon, they have helped the indie author do something that would have been impossible otherwise. The people are Amazon have always been helpful and courteous to me, they just don’t have to depend on me alone.
Please, don’t be discouraged if you are a new author. That isn’t my intent at all. I just want you to understand that your battle is only beginning. Writing a great novel may seem like the most demanding work, but the fact is, the real hard work, getting it sold, lies ahead of you. You can do it if you persevere. There will be times when you wonder if it is worth it when you tell yourself, it doesn’t matter. The truth is, you wrote because you had something to say that couldn’t be said any other way. You want someone out there to hear what you said. Work at it and who knows, maybe you will be the next Tom Clancy or Margrett Atwood?
I hope you are having a great week!