In my three years of marketing Steel, Blood & Fire, I have tried just about everything a cash-strapped teacher can manage. I’ve purchased flashy bookmarks and given them away at various Cons. I’ve handed out attractive, custom hoodies. I’ve advertised on Google, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others. I’ve promoted my book(s) on those same platforms, along with Instagram, Pinterest, G+ and others. I’m almost desperate enough to buy space on Farmersonly.com or womenbehindbars.com! Within all these platforms, I’ve purchased services from various groups that promise a dramatic increase in visits to my website (hasn’t happened) or improved sales (nope). Results have been poor, to say the least, even when I follow directions to the letter.
Perhaps it’s my books, then? Well, that was actually my first thought. But reviews have been great and some downright stellar. Despite the old adage (that shall not be repeated here), it occurred to me that my covers might be the problem, but, with the help of friend Shay Roberts, I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure my covers are as captivating as budget will allow.
So, what the heck is it? What’s the secret? How DOES one get the word out to the intended audience? Why is it so danged hard?
I think one of the issues is that there are well over 400,000 fantasy books on Amazon. In that sea of books, there is some very successful garbage and some shamefully unknown brilliance, and it seems at times that readership and recognition are almost arbitrary. It is nearly impossible to make noise in such a large group.
There is some good news, though. Groups like the folks at BestFantasyBooks.com can be very supportive if an author is willing to invest the time and express an interest in the genre beyond mere self-promotion. For me, though, and I suspect most authors, the most successful factor has been word-of-mouth. When readers love a book and share that with friends, it does more for sales and spirits than the most artful Twitter campaign ever designed.
Remember that when you find a book you love; you may be its greatest, its only champion.