Some thoughts on promotion

I go back and forth in my mind about the need to promote my books. When I was first getting started, it seemed like every indie out there stressed the importance of promoting your books extensively. A lot of times to the exclusion of writing more books.

I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I think a lot of people are trying to apply traditional publishing logic to the indie publishing world. It’s my understanding that traditional publishers expect a certain number of sales in a ridiculously short time frame (6 weeks, I think I’ve heard) and once that time has come and gone, you’re old news. It puts a lot of pressure on a writer to work their asses off trying to generate as much publicity for their books as possible to move as many copies as they can during that period of time.

As an indie, I’m not under any of those time restraints. Unless the self publishing market changes radically, it’s possible that every single story I post will sit there for sale until I die and hopefully beyond. At some point interested readers will find my books and buy them. In fact, they’ll buy up every title I have for sale. They’ll tell their like minded friends and I’ll find success.

In theory aggressive promotion speeds up that process and you can start building up a fan base much sooner, maybe even within weeks of publishing your first book. The problem with that theory is that there’s no sure way to make that happen. For every Amanda Hocking who says it was mostly luck that got her books reviewed by some important book bloggers, there are who knows how many hundreds or thousands of aspiring writers who will never get any recognition for all their efforts.

However if you were to spend the time you’d invest with promoting your books writing new ones, you’d have something tangible to show for your efforts. Something with a monetary value.

With that in mind, I think I’ve decided to skip promotional efforts. I’ll do the things that I enjoy like blogging and twitter, but any marketing I do will be a consequence of that, not a reason for it. I’ll still do anthologies and guest posts when asked because I’m still a huge believer in indies supporting each other whenever possible, but I won’t seek out those opportunities. I’d rather focus on things that have a measurable reward.

I can definitely appreciate the reasoning behind those who do heavy marketing. A lot of people do see an increase in sales from those pushes and I do go back and forth in my mind about it. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. This isn’t something that’s set in stone for me. I’m always willing to entertain new tactics, but at this point, I figure I’ve only got so many hours in a day and it’s too easy to lose them in a world of nearly limitless marketing options.

What are your thoughts on marketing? Are you a promotional addict? Any promotional tactics you swear by? I’m honestly really curious about different perspectives on this topic.

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5 Comments

Filed under indie publishing, promotion

5 responses to “Some thoughts on promotion

  1. I like to see it as if they like it, they will come. I promote a little but honestly? If I’m promoting, I’m not writing. And I have precious little time as is.

    • That sums up my feelings pretty well. I can see where the benefits lie, but I haven’t really had the kind of results that would make it worth the time it takes away from writing new content.

  2. I wrestle with this all the time. I know that other than a few things I have planned, it’s time to step down from the promo bandwagon and write like an author possessed.

    • There is so much pressure to promote promote promote. Everyone is doing a blog tour or a giveaway or paying for ad space on one site or another. But I found that when I started writing the adult stuff that I planned to just put out there and forget about since it was all one big experiment, it quickly found an audience of interested people. Without a single bit of promotion on my part. The lesson I learned from that is that eventually interested people WILL find your work so it’s better to have something for them to read than to flog your own poor novel to death in the hopes that it’ll take off like Twilight or Harry Potter. The pressure will always be there, but I’m going to try hard to resist because I think in the end it’ll benefit me more.

  3. You bring up some great points, and I had the same thought before that – barring major changes – those stories I have up online as an indie get to float there for however long I let them. The logic would be that I could write more, and make the same money through volume as I did through unit sales on one title.
    I think the answer is in the middle, as I do believe in balance. In keeping with your production schedule post, one can stick to a writing timeline, but also account for some marketing/promo time as well.

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