No, thank you, I will do my own marketing research

Why is book marketing so hard? There are many reasons why – too many books being published, authors giving away books for free, social media noise, you name it. I won’t go into all of them, but I do want to dissect one:

Bad advice.

Again, this could be interpreted in a variety ways – and I would not claim to know what is good and what is bad. Things that have worked for someone with a romance novel may not work for an author of horror. Things change all the time, so for example it’s known fact now that if you give your book away for free and climb to the top of Top 100 Free Bestseller list on Amazon, once you switch to Paid, your rankings will fall dismally, because you have sold exactly zero paid copies during your free promotion days. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, this post has been a winner already!

There’s lots of other advice I find questionable, such as:

  1. “Just write a good book and it will find an audience.” When? When I’m dead?
  2. “Set your price high and don’t budge.” I did that. Readers did not budge, either.
  3. “Grow your social media presence.” I did that, too – 30K + followers resulted in just a handful of sales.

So far I’ve been able to prove that one sure way to increase exposure is with paid marketing. I hope to test the theory that writing a series is a way to success very soon. Meanwhile, I would advise everyone to do their own research. Test me on my assumptions – please! And certainly, check that if you are taking advice from someone else, that they know what they are doing.

This brings me to the controversial part of this particular post. I have been following a number of author blogs, and was especially impressed by an author who has published a number of fiction books as well as a number of self-help books on the writing business. I was about to buy one, on how to market your book, when I’d decided to have a look at how the fiction books by the same author were performing, specifically the overall Amazon rankings. The answer?

150K-plus to 7-million-plus.

I was in shock. This author wrote not one, but several series of fiction books, with awesome flashy covers, lots of reviews, you name it. I would imagine a book ranking at 7 million on Amazon has not sold a copy in what, months? Years? How could someone with such dismal fiction sales record sell a book on book marketing? Oh, and what was the ranking of the marketing book?

Top 100 in it’s category.

I’m not going to reveal who it was, as I’m afraid to get eaten alive, so let me just leave you with this message: once again, do your own research, find your own way, and if some bad advice is not working for you, be brave and throw it away.



Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

87 responses to “No, thank you, I will do my own marketing research

  1. I’m considering doing some paid advertising. The one you mentioned in your other post is for ebooks. My book is only available in paperback. If anyone can recommend a good place to advertise paperbacks (especially a children’s book), please let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have me very curious, Ana! Wishing you luck on the paid advertising. Hope it goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marketing is not easy. I am a postgraduate of marketing and offer marketing counselling in affordable prices 🙂 I can help

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the advice! I knew this was going to be hard, but I still want to give it a go. Hope it goes well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like the theory of how to live a good life: March to your own drummer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with your paid promotion, Ana. I have 6 novels published as eBooks and consider myself to be just learning to write – not worried too much about promotion/sales. I often click on posts like yours and read about what others are doing with marketing, though, and my impression so far is that this is a flooded market where many writers are losing money. I’m thinking it might be wise (for me) to only ever re-invest proceeds from sales into marketing, no cold cash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, if you count all I’d spent on edits, I’m massively in the negative. Good thing I have a great day job, so I can afford to view this as a fun hobby. I have all kinds of aspirations, but also know it would be hard. I was into acting for years and finally gave up, same thing, market over flooded with people willing to work for free. I do think I’m a better writer than I was an actor 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bad advice is the bain of every self-published author. I wrote a blog post about how to recognise these so-called advisors (The Many Species of Author Advice): Shysters, Bullshitters, Wraiters, Sirens, Contrarians, Social Media Fairies, Echo Chambers. They’re all covered!

    My advice is to do what you did and check out what authority these people have to be giving advice. Most of them wouldn’t know a best seller if it whacked them in the face.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Reblogged this on Indie Lifer and commented:
    Agree with the sentiments expressed here.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alice Lundy

    Thank you for voicing this. There’s so much noise out there it can be overwhelming. Please keep us informed on how well the paid advertising goes for you. wishing you tremendous success.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good luck! Yeah, I’m going it alone myself as well. Call it the stubborn nonconformist in me. 😉

    I’d agree, with a lot of writing books you need to take them only half-seriously, being fully aware when their advice works for you and when it doesn’t. David Gaughran’s ‘Let’s Get Digital’ is the one I’ve been leaning on lately. It’s definitely not a book that attempts to convince you that you too can be a Big Selling Author. It’s actually a realistic ‘OK, you *really* want to go this route? You’ll want to focus on this…’. Very helpful in that respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the recommendation – have you tested anything he’d recommended?


      • Funny thing, I started reading it *after* I started the process, so a lot of it was “oh good, I’m doing it right!” There’s a lot of ‘background’ work he talks about — getting pro help on editing/cover/etc vs doing it alone (if you can pull it off, then by all means do so), pricing, platforms, formatting, etc. He doesn’t say “you should do (x)” as much as he gives multiple avenues you might want to try, and how to handle it in a professional manner. Probably the least ego-stroking and the most helpful how-to writing book I’ve read in a while. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks again, I will check it out!


  11. I think the best advice I’ve gotten, and it’s consistently there in your posts, is “Always look behind the curtain”.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this info and advice. Very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Perfectly said. There was a comedy group in the 60-s and 70’s called Firesign Theatre and one of their albums summed up all the advice given writers on sales, marketing, and all that jazz. It was called Everything You Know is Wrong. The best a writer can do is BEWARE of anyone and everyone’s advice. There is one successful romance writer who does not Tweet, is not on Facebook, has no social media presence and does everything wrong (according to who), yet she sells books. The best salvation for an indie writer is to enjoy the writing. I often feel like a rat in a maze looking for cheese that is not there. The journey of writing is what sustains me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, no! I hope some of it is right! 🙂 but yes, if you enjoy the process, you’re much more likely to enjoy success in the end. I’m just impatient and will try to figure out how to get it sooner, rather than later.


  14. Reading your post on this topic helps me a lot! I know once my vampire novel’s done, I’ll be very careful on how I get it out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have tried a number of paid advertising sites and found that most of them do not generate enough sales to cover the costs of the fee, but two have bucked the trend – Bookbub and Fussy Librarian. Bookbub is a giant and Fussy a minnow (but growing) so the cost of a Bookbub promo is huge and a Fussy one is small, but if you are lucky enough to get accepted for a Bookbub promo you will probably sell a lot of books (for a week or two) and with Fussy much less, but still worth it. I’ve had a couple of free promos on Bookbub which shifted huge numbers of free books, but this also lifted the book onto best-seller paid lists for a week or two, which more than covered the cost – but it helps if the book is part of a series, obviously. A $0.99 Bookbub promo shifts far less but you get paid for each one at 70% if its a kindle countdown promo.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I’m planning to try both of those! I will give fussy librarian a proper paid try – so far I’ve tried to get on for free, twice, no cigar. You give me confidence to open my wallet 🙂


  16. Good tips. I just completed a Goodreads giveaway, which to date has been decent exposure for me while running a targeted ad on facebook. Both cost me about the same when you take shipping my giveaway copies into account. I was happy with my facebook results as far as clicks, but didn’t get nearly the conversions to sales I was hoping for. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have been wanting to publish my own book of poetry but have no idea how to even begin. I am very sick and I want to have something of me for my family to remember me by. If anyone has any advice for me that would be wonderful! I haven’t been able to write recently but I do have a poetry website with a few of my pieces. Thank you for all your help!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Marcos Fernandes

    It may be ironic to mention it, but it’s quite easy to sell a hard copy of a book. You can phone up book distributors and book shop owners, talk up your book to them, send them some copies and cardboard display stands, and just bomb them with it. Publishers Weekly has written up a few articles about ebook versus traditional book sales (ebooks usually hover between 7% to 8% of total book sales). It’s a very hard slog to try and market an ebook! :-p

    In the past, when I was more involved in editorial freelancing, usually the biggest question I received from self-publishing authors was ‘How do I sell this’ (give or take a few expletives). I wish I had the magic bullet answer. 😦

    Have you tried sending free copies of your ebook to popular book reviewers, magazines, newspapers, even literary journals? At least one of them may pick it up. If you have any friends in radio or newspapers you may even get an author interview! Radios love interviewing authors; if you pitch them the segment, they’ll be quite friendly (at least, from my own experience).

    Anyway, I loved your post! These ones on marketing and sales have been especially interesting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I’m about to have paper copies, but it will be a challenge to sell them in US bookstores, since I’m in Australia…but I’m up for the challenge! Thank you – I will add this idea to my list…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marcos Fernandes

        I live and work in Australia, as well. 🙂 I lived in Sydney for most of my life, now I live in northern NSW. You’re in Melbourne, right? From the last time I visited, I think there’s a cafe in St. Kilda that’s quite author friendly. Like, they have readings and author signings. Though, this was a few years ago. Hopefully they still do it. 🙂

        It would be fantastic to break into the American market. I hope you break it when you get to that stage. Do you have connections there? Friends may be able to help you do some leg work, though I’m no expert on the intricacies of US distribution.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have friends in the US, but none are in the industry. I’ve never heard of this cafe, but I do go to a writing group, I will ask them. Thank you for the tips 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Is the advice I’m seeking advice I could give myself? Writing is such an individual process that no book can tell you how to write like you. All the help authors can tell you is how to write like they do, and that can’t work because they aren’t you.

    Advice I gave to Alan J. Blaustein: try to make sure a target publication is at least receptive to rhyme and meter; and send poems to publications that actually pay.

    Thank you for following my blog, Poetry, Prose and Anything Goes. I should have acknowledge earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think marketing a book is probably a case of trail and error. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on how to write or market a book. I think that you try one thing and see if it works and if not try something else, maybe adjust the method to see if it really doesn`t work and then try another method. So its up to the author, we are all individuals. But I feel the confusion and hard work that goes into marketing is worth it. It`s been nice for me not to have to change my story in a major way. An agent might want you to delete characters or change the story to suit the market. So self -publishing means you can stay true to your story. It`s a good time in history to write a book!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I was only going to take a short 15 minute break…been writing since about 6:30 this morning…and check notifications on WP, visit whichever person might have dropped in to The Old Fossil Writes and then get back to work.

    That was a little over an hour ago. Way to distract someone, Ana!!

    Very interesting post, this. Many of the questions I’ve asked myself, you have addressed. Amazing how much clearer it sounds coming from outside of one’s own head!

    Btw, re: 99c vs $X.99….exactly! I’ve often wondered why groceries, fuel and other retailers don’t understand that they are likely to sell three times the number/amount of goods at lower prices and STILL realize a larger profit than those who sell for twice the price!

    Thank you for stopping by my author’s blog and following me. All the best on your own journey; keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jam

    Thanks so much for visiting my humble blog! Marketing is like a foreign language to me! It sounds like advice is to be taken lightly as every book is going to be received differently, despite the intended audience. A ‘one size fits all’ approach may not work but trying many things until something sticks sounds better!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Martin Cororan

    Well written pearls of wisdom…having said all that you do have a pretty impressive readership so the hard work is clearly paying off…worth a moment of self-congratulation I’d say!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Martin 🙂 indeed, amazing numbers! All that in about six months of hard, hard work – in July I had about 50 blog followers and nobody commented, it was all but dead.


  24. kbeezyisviral

    As a writer: everyone has their own trajectory, to gravitate towards. What works for me, wouldn’t work for anyone else. There are many marketing tools that writers can utilize, but they cannot be optimized unless the readers understand the writers formula. Laying down a unique blueprint takes time, patience, constancy, consistency, perseverance and courage. Without fully attaining those attributes, success just becomes another word written on the blank page. Putting serious time into writing is the only way to get money out of the profession. Enthusiasm and passion cannot be taught–they are elegant, natural born tendencies. Eventually, down the road of any writing career, the author has to invest capital for promotion. Knowing when to do it is the key. Stay tuned for Ladies Prism to be released soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with everything, except that enthusiasm can’t be taught – I’m a living proof of it. I used to be a depressed teenager and a shy young adult – I’ve learned my current behaviours and even personality from overtime exposure to challenges – from moving countries, to years of studies, to sports, and acting in films. I’m a big believer in “you can learn anything”. That includes book marketing 🙂


      • kbeezyisviral

        I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve met both men and women, who have struggled throughout different chapters of their life to engage in dialogue and interact with others. I’m glad you have overcome some of your fears. The enthusiasm I was speaking of was strictly from a writing perspective. It’s deeply embedded in the craft. There are talented writers who lack a genuine enthusiasm, but that doesn’t mean they can’t weave together a magnificent story to appease the masses. Book marketing is definitely a form of art that can be mastered over time. It’s a finite set of skills, unlike the dialect and rhetoric a writer can create with the power of written words.


  25. Ana, I am also impress by your number of blog follower. And I think that finding the proper form of marketing, it like picking out the right dress. No one fits all, but there is one for everyone. By the way, keep writing! You have talent and it should be shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Nice advice, Ana. There are so many people trying to sell books that there’s a big market for books about how to sell books. Mostly written, as you say, by people who’ve failed to sell their books. I’m thus very qualified to write one myself. Look out for ‘Bestseller Bliss – How to Hit the Literary Big Time.’ Out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Pingback: Book cover contest and sage perspective | Terry Nelson's Quill

  28. Good advice, Ana. The comments were helpful too.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Pingback: No, thank you, I will do my own marketing research. | Toni Kennedy : A Writing Life

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