We are into the new year of 2015 and I have been doing some serious thinking and soul searching. I have noticed a few things over the last year and made some observations that taught me a lot. We write and publish books. Since we didn’t know a single solitary thing about it when we started we tried everything. And when I say that, I literally mean exactly that. There were a few things I refused to do because I didn’t feel it was a good fit for us or what most call our brand. We write young adult fantasy books and the last few years have been a great learning experience that as of yet, there are no college courses to teach you. What works for one doesn’t work for all so I have had to learn what works and doesn’t work for us. Here are a few things we have learned.
1. The social media of sharing each others twitters, Facebook places to post about your books, or blogs to share to blog hop with, plain do not work for us. I have seen it work for quite a few, but for the vast majority, it doesn’t. All you are doing is blasting out the same things over and over again, basically spamming everyone. Soon people stop paying attention to your posts, this makes your efforts useless and devoid of any chance of reaching any readers period. The ones that do well in book sales, you will never find in tweet groups, or blog hops, or even on facebook groups tooting everyone else’s horn. They just go about their business of writing their books, making meaningful conversations every now and then on a few social media sites and do their job. They don’t spend hours and hours tweeting, sharing, blogging in hopes of boosting their book rankings.
2. Thinking that the online social media place is the ONLY place to sell your books is totally wrong. We have been going to fairs, art’s and craft events and other gatherings and selling paperback books to people. We get to talk to people face to face. We get to find out what they do like and what they don’t. It gives us a chance to interact with others and network with other vendors who are also out there trying to sell their wares as well. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start doing it, nor do you have to travel hundreds of miles to do it either. Find a mileage you are comfortable driving and find fairs, craft shows, county fairs and other venues to set up a booth and sell your books. This puts a face and a real person to the books you are trying to get others to know about.
3. Am I saying do exactly as I am doing? No, I say find what does and doesn’t work for you. Cast a wide net and hone it down to what works. Remember why you are doing this in the first place, to write your stories. Will there be times you get discouraged and feel like quitting? Yes, but keep going and keep track of the ways you have tried and keep track of what does work and what doesn’t. In this way you will eliminate what isn’t working and focus on what does. Check out the sites people talk about, find a few authors who you see are doing well with their sale and just watch to see what they do and notice what they don’t do. The two that I mainly follow and have seen do well over the long haul is Madison Johns and Martin Crosbie. Those two have done consistently well ever the few years we have been in this venture we started in November of 2011.
4. You will run into sites that tell you they can promote your book to the masses and raise your book rankings by leaps and bounds. Keep track of the places you go to, the free ones and the ones that cost a fee. There are some really good ones out there and some not so good ones as well. The main thing is, you have to find what works best for you and your book. Ask around for good sites to place your books ads in. There are good ones and bad ones just like any other place.
I don’t have all the answers for everyone, I’m only able to find answers for what does and doesn’t work for a mother and son writing team who write young adult fantasy books for kids ages 10 and up. Our friend Dan Peyton said it best, “going from group to group to let people know about your book is like going from hair salon to hair salon in hopes of finding a job in a room full of hair stylists already there looking for a job. You aren’t finding people who need a hair cut, just people willing to cut it.” How do you stand out in a sea of writers both indie and traditionally published? I am beginning to think the key to that is finding your own way. Stop following the masses and just find your own way to get noticed.
Are there thousands of books out there to help you figure out how to sell your books? Yes, are they all right? Yes and no. They found what works best for them. Take their information and use what works best for you. They found what worked best for them. Just as one pair of pants don’t fit all people, one way of getting published and selling a ton of books won’t work for everyone.
So what is this year going to mean for us? We are going to cut down where we have accounts on so many sites. There are places, I don’t even remember any more! I’m going to cut it down to what does work for us and just go with that. I am going to clean up our social media footprint. I am going to continue to watch for new places and sites to either place an ad on or just to explore. Never stop learning and never stop growing. Just as social media is always changing so is how the publishing industry works. So go out there, make mistakes, learn from them and find out what works for YOU best.