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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Dishing the Book Marketing Dirt!

BookBaby, a leading self-publishing book company, claims almost 8,000 independent writers completed its 2017 Self-Publishing Survey and that most respondents agreed that being published was “only half the battle”.

The rest is the deep down dirty slog of marketing.

BB chief, Steven Spatz is due to unveil the full results at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference on Friday February 17 in a speech named Publish, Promote and Profit: How Top Self-Publishing Authors Promote Their Books.

His weekend blog post also included a very well designed pictorial graph outlining what may be termed the ‘ten commandments’ for promoting a self-published book.

 

These are:

 

1. Author website

2. Book launch

3. Email newsletter

4. Social media

5. Contests

6. Blog articles

7. Google alerts

8. Radio / press exposure

9. Book clubs / book signings / launches

10. Book shops

 

Book Marketing for AuthorsAll these ideas – and more – also feature in **Book Marketing for Authors by Paula Wynne, a best- selling thriller writer with a wealth of personal experience in book marketing as she has worked in the Public Relations Department of the Oxford University Press.

Some of her ideas and the information she provides are persuasive and instructive, especially advice she quotes about book cover design:

“…. the most important selling tool self-published authors have in their book marketing toolkit is the book cover.

“Your book cover represents your book to the world so you’ll want to be sure it is shown off in its best light with its most professional image. For most authors, this will mean that you must hire someone to create a good cover for your book”.

Wynne also recommends using companies like Canva (graphic design software), Gimp (image manipulation) and Pixabay (free photographs and clip art) all of which are excellent.

But there is much else in her book that I find troublesome or with which I profoundly disagree:

First, as her professional background is marketing, she probably knows more than many other independent writers about promotion sites like Rafflecopter and Gleam and she should explain what these are.

Next, I shrink from the thought of swapping or cross-posting author newsletters with other writers working in similar genres. To offer space for a short guest essay on a ‘blog tour’ can be useful.

But to promote other people’s newsletters will surely confuse readers to the point where they become unsure who’s written what and the whole will merge into a sticky grey morass of clueless unoriginality. I am desperate for my work to be quite different; why should I share my ideas with others?

Moreover, as a micro-fiction writer I am deeply affronted by the concept of producing short stories simply to promote a novel. The short story and the novel are two quite distinct art forms, each treasured in their own right. To use a short story as a marketing tool perpetuates the silly notion that this particular type of writing is a mere warm-up exercise; poorer, less worthy than a novel.

Then even as she emphasises the importance of accuracy and proofing work, Wynne’s book has been published with many inaccuracies - grammatical, stylistic and factual.

Two web links:

http://www.southpasadenawebdesign.com/allowed-html-tags-in-amazon-product-descriptions/

and

http://htmledit.squarefree.com/ do not work.

The section about using keywords twice refers to Kindle Samurai as ‘Samaria’(!) and further, Wynne describes herself as having worked for Oxford University ‘Publishing’. If she means the Oxford University Press, she should say so as I have been unable to find a reference to anything else.

So while I’ll use some of the material she provides, I will not bother with the other books in the series.

My feeling is that Book Marketing for Authors was cobbled together in haste – with backstage help from a lacklustre, overworked committee!

 ** Book Marketing for Authors: Essential Steps for Before, During and After Your Book Launch is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $0.99.

 

© Natalie Wood (05 February 2017)

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