Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Getting Sucked In by Marketing Efforts

Writing a book is a long, hard process. It's never-ending, too: As soon as you finish one, you really need to get started planning, outlining, and writing the next. But you also need to spend time selling and marketing. Very few writers, if any, are in it for the money. It's too much work with not enough return. Especially if you're an indie writer. Still, we try to sell our goods with the hope that one day we might support ourselves with our writing and therefore have more time to spend writing.

The biggest problem with selling: it takes a lot of time. Sure, you can release your book to the world and hope it gets traction on its own. I tried that for a while. For me, it didn't work. It wasn't until a combination of enrolling in KDP Select and implementing various engagements on Goodreads (advertising, giveaways) that my books started to get in front of people and start selling. But not only does the KDP Select rankings boost fade, Amazon also tweaked the algorithms so the whole process of going free just isn't as effective anymore. Goodreads is more of a slow, steady burn, not a bonfire. Slow and steady is a good long term strategy, but I like having a bonfire every once in a while, too.

Other marketing strategies include tweeting about your book like the world is about to end and getting others to re-tweet your tweets (how effective is this? This guy doesn't think it's very effective at all), letting every site possible know about a sale or free promotion you're running, paying for a sponsorship with Kindle Nation Daily (I've got one coming up in a couple of weeks) or other site, or hoping one of the mega-sites like Pixel of Ink will pick up your book whether it's on promotion or not. Selecting dates and coordinating all of this isn't a huge amount of effort, but when you're working a day job every hour counts. Typically when I schedule a promotion and advertising to go along with it I lose a day of writing (a day of writing for me is a couple of hours in the morning or evening before or after work). Add into the mix time spent engaging with readers (and other writers) on various forums and Goodreads, too.

The bottom line is that marketing is an ongoing process that requires time and effort that ultimately gets sucked out of the time and effort spent writing.

That's why I've decided to take a break from it all (the marketing, not the writing). Besides for an upcoming KND promo and my usual Goodreads self-serve ads, which run pretty much on auto-pilot, I'm stepping back and re-focusing on just writing. I'm about 40,000 words into the next book in The Alchemancer series. I got side-tracked a bit with a few changes in the outline. Ultimately those changes make the story much more concise and engaging, so time spent reworking that was well-spent, I think.

Hopefully if this works and I can resist the marketing temptation I should have this next book done in rough draft form within a couple of months. That's really my goal at this point: getting another book out there. I hope to have it complete by the end of the year.



Comments (4) -

  • Daniel R. Marvello

    6/2/2012 6:41:53 AM | Reply

    When you start with your first book, marketing does seem to take a disproportionate amount of time versus the benefit you get out of it. I've been having a lot of trouble with that myself.

    If you do nothing, your book goes nowhere, but it seems to take a long time and consistent effort to get *anything* to happen. What seems most important is the "slow burn" you talk about. Doing things that produce a short-term bump in sales only have short-term benefit. It takes consistent work to push your sales up one plateau at a time.

    No matter what though, writing the next book seems to be one of the best things you can do for your sales of all your books. Joe Konrath has beat that drum for quite some time, and seeing the patterns of successful authors on KindleBoards, I believe he is right. That makes me happy, because writing is what I want to do most!

  • Scott Marlowe

    6/2/2012 4:24:33 PM | Reply

    [i]writing the next book seems to be one of the best things you can do for your sales of all your books[/i]

    Especially if the next book is the next in a series. I've got two unrelated novels right now (even though they're set in the same world, they still have nothing to do with each other), so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage right now. Which is the primary reason I want to step away from the marketing--so I can get this second in the series novel done and then start using book 1 as a loss leader to get people "into" the series.

  • Benjamin

    6/7/2012 9:23:51 PM | Reply

    It shouldnt be the pressure you feel from the publishers. Us fans of series keep getting promises that aint fullfilled. Robert Jordan, around book 7, promised he wouldnt write other books and focus on the series. He didnt, he wrote more Conan books, and died before the WOT was done.

    GRRM takes his own sweet time writing his books, to the point that were forced to go reread the previous books just to remember exactly whats going on.

    When you write a series, you make a commitment to the fans not only to finish it, but to finish it in a timely matter so that us fans dont forget what happened in previous books.

  • Scott Marlowe

    6/9/2012 12:47:11 PM | Reply

    [i]When you write a series, you make a commitment to the fans not only to finish it, but to finish it in a timely matter so that us fans dont forget what happened in previous books.[/i]

    But "timely" is relative, a bit subjective, and, for those of us who aren't doing this full-time, difficult to say the least.

    I agree with you about the WoT. Jordan would have better served himself and his readers by ending the series long before it reached the number of volumes it finally hit before he died. I guess that's the danger of trying to keep a series going forever.

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