Writers are always looking for information on marketing these days whether they are self-published or have chosen the traditional publishing route. As even the big publishers encourage the authors themselves to take a big share of the publicity burden, we are all getting thrown into the same pool to sink or swim.
With that in mind, I came across a book recently with a title that promised information on how to publish and market a specific genre of book. I got a sample and had a look first at the table of contents. What I saw there inspired me to write this article, shedding a little light on a phenomena that I’ve been noticing across different media for some time now.
There are many books, articles and blog posts that give good advice on various aspects of publishing and marketing. The thing is, most of them are telling us the same things over and over again. The advice is good, but how many times do we need to read how to build a platform or format an ebook before we’ve put all of it into practice and want to learn something we haven’t heard before?
In the case of articles and blog posts, we’re reading them free online and repetition could have some value until we get it right or provide a variety of perspectives. The thing I wonder though, is how many books does the average new writer buy before they notice that all the books are mostly saying the same things?
There are exceptions of course. For example, a series of books by Rayne Hall I find very interesting as they specialise in how to write specific types of scenes and generally give good writer advice. I’ve read a few of these and they don’t waste time repeating what you probably already know.
The particular book that sparked this post started with instructions for how to self-publish. 140 pages of a 296 page book gives accurate information of how to do what anyone who has self-published a book now knows how to do. Formatting, ISBNs, etc. become familiar once you’ve done it.
Okay, maybe someone who hasn’t gone through this process before will buy the book and find that information incredibly valuable. This is followed by two chapters that were of interest to me. One had 6 pages of statistics relevant to the genre in question and to be fair, my attempts to Google the specific figures was drowned by general book buying figures in the maelstrom of prolific information that Google has become.
The next chapter was 2 pages of a marketing plan for the specific genre. This, of course, looked much like any other book marketing plan, but pointed out sources for the target audience that quite honestly were obvious and would take some serious in-person salesman activity to access.
The rest of the book was about such things as your platform, social media, using back matter, and all the elements that are common to all the other books and articles about marketing books in any genre. So apart from 6 pages of sales figures that were otherwise hard to find, this book could actually have been about any genre and was mostly a repeat of information that anyone who reads articles and blog posts about writing will have read many times over.
I’m not just having a rant. What I’m pointing out is that there is no magic tome that will teach you how to make more sales, no matter how intriguing the title or well-designed the cover. The information is out here for all to see and to put into practice. We know that a good cover will draw interest, that perfect editing will gain reader respect and that a well composed blurb is essential to selling our books.
All we can do is make sure our writing is up to snuff and get our books in front of the appropriate audience, unless we want to share our experience and write a book on how to publish and market a book. There seems to be a big market for those!
For the record, I highly recommend Mark Coker’s Smashwords Guide to Marketing. Even if you don’t use Smashwords, it is full of all the good advice and updated annually. It’s also free.
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