So, I’m giving a workshop this weekend on marketing and promotion. Not on what works but what hasn’t worked for me. Like in colossal failures – colossal being defined as spending money and/or investing time and energy with very little or no return. When I initially got the idea for this workshop, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fill a full 55 minutes. Then, I started composing my list on marketing and promotion failures and made a terrible, unsettling discovery. Everything I’ve ever tried hasn’t paid off. Like in, everything!
I have to ask, what am doing wrong? Am I a glutton for punishment who loves throwing money away? Do I stink at marketing and promotion? Is the world simply oversaturated and I don’t stand out? Maybe a little of each. Mostly the last, in my humble opinion.
Frankly, there are millions of authors out there and zillions of books available. Of those zillion books, about ten percent of them are free. Okay, maybe five percent. But a lot. I could download a free book every day of the week for ten years and not make a noticeable dent in the number of free books for the taking. Who is going to notice me and want to pay good money for my book when they can whip out their phone or their Kindle Fire and download a whole bunch of books for absolutely nothing out of pocket?
I’ve been saying for a long time now that we authors are committing slow suicide. The idea that if an author offers a book for free and readers will rush out buy the rest of their books worked for a while. When there was, say, only a few thousand free books available. These days, people simply download one free book and go right on to the next free book and the next, forgetting all about the first author.
If the amount of free books out there isn’t the reason why all my marketing and promotion efforts have failed, the only other answer that makes any sense is I’m simply not a good author or my books aren’t very interesting. Perish the thought! Unfortunately, it’s likely true. I’m not bad, mind you. I just don’t have the elusive “X factor that makes readers unable to get enough of me. Darn it!
In the meantime, I have a bunch of letter openers with my name on them still to give away (I ordered 1000). They cost me $.85 apiece. At my currently royalty rate, if every person I gave a letter opener to turned around and bought my book, I’d be in the hole $.30 for every book I sold. Clearly, I need a new plan and am open to suggestions.