One of the worst marketing techniques I’ve seen continually practiced on the Internet is writers selling to writers. You know the drill. A new writer joins a writers group and immediately starts talking about their book, making not very subtle attempts to convince people to buy.
The result is that the other writers in the group ignore the spammy posts or even remonstrate with the errant author and explain that that isn’t what they formed the group for. More often than not, the attempts will continue more subtly while the author in question wonders why they don’t get any sales.
What’s going wrong here is that although writers are also readers, they are usually not in the market for their next read when they are participating in a group that focuses on discussing marketing techniques or writing craft. Their mindset is not on ‘buy’. For that, marketing attempts need to be directed at readers.
However, the unsubtle methods don’t fare much better in reader groups, who are constantly bombarded with authors infiltrating with a single purpose in mind; to sell their books. Readers have become jaded over time and have little patience with these sales attempts.
Good advice has been offered on the Internet many times. Choose an interest group who are likely to want to read what you write. Participate in the group, don’t spam. Talk about well-known books in your genre and make friends.
Yes, it takes time. Yes, you have to be genuine. If you’re not prepared to do that, stick with Twitter tags and paid or free advertising for your marketing efforts. If your book still isn’t selling, well, maybe that author group might have had helpful suggestions about things like bookcovers and book descriptions that you should have paid attention to.
One genre has been found to be an exception to the usual rule that nobody ever sells books to authors in their genre. Fantasy. I don’t mean Fantasy Romance or Young Adult genres, which have a very different demographic audience, but old school Fantasy with quests and dragons and such. Readers who recognise words like ‘Amber‘ and ‘Tiers‘ and sigh in pleasant memory at mention of The Lord of the Rings or who couldn’t read the doorstop books of The Song of Ice and Fire fast enough.
While these reader/authors don’t like getting spammed any more than anyone else, a very high percentage of the readers in the genre are also writers. There is something about the type of imaginary experience of a story about riding dragons or questing to save the world that brings out the potential writer in fans of the genre.
That still leaves the other half of the readership who won’t be found in author groups. The trick for authors in this genre is to work out how to get their books in front of the target audience, especially in these days when the booksellers throw our books into the same categories as the Young Adult and Romance novels that might have some Fantasy elements. While there are some exceptions, most of the readers of Tolkien, P.J. Farmer, Weis & Hickman, McKillip, McCaffrey, Martin and Zelazny are not the same readers who like Galbaldson, Cass, Carriager or Meyer. So, just finding a group or forum labelled Fantasy requires a little further investigation.
Regardless of your genre, your task is to get your book in front of readers. The right readers. Targeting writer groups is a waste of an author’s time and time is a resource. Think about where you go to find books when you look for something to read, then project your goals to work out how to get your books in front of people like yourself, who will be looking in the same places. This is a much better use of your time than trying to sell to other authors who are just as interested in selling their book to you.
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