Archive for May, 2014
Comparatively speaking, writing a novel is the fun, easy, first step of the self-publishing process. The second step, creating an attention-getting eBook cover (and optional print version cover) offers its own unique set of challenges. The most intimidating undertaking, to most authors, is the third step—marketing. The word strikes terror in their sensitive little hearts because many authors want as little to do as possible with the outside world.
The largest, most demoralizing marketing question is, “Where do I begin?” Guess what? I’m not going to tell you. There are about a billion articles and blogs on “How to Market Your Book.” Go read one. In this blog, I plan to relate the first steps I’ve taken to escort my eBook into this over published world.
There are more than seven billion people alive, but how many of them read regularly? Better yet, how many of them are looking for my book? Answer: None—Zero—Zilch—hence the need for marketing. I carefully packed this thought away in a dark corner of my creative attic upon beginning the journey of writing a first novel.
As I neared the climactic scenes of my first draft, I noticed it became harder to write. After a good deal of soul-searching and hand wringing, I diagnosed the problem. My writer’s block stemmed from the subliminal understanding that it was almost time to say goodbye to my family of characters and their world. That world had nearly ended, but it was far better than my ordinary life and the real world terrors of self-promotion. Excuse me for this digression. I couldn’t help it.
Flash forward 18 months. I’ve uploaded the eBook to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ibooks. I’ve developed a Three Days to Darkness web site and a Facebook page. After a year-long struggle, I’ve managed to place a hyperlinked image of my eBook in the right hand column of this blog (see “I Finally Did It”).
Now what? Gulp…
This is the seriously hard part—driving people to these outposts in cyberspace.
I started with an ad on Book Daily. Your book is featured for one day per month on Book Daily’s E-Zine. Your first chapter is e-mailed to a combined audience of 25,000 readers (many of them authors). They e-mail your chapter to a subset of readers by genre on three consecutive days during the month. With each exposure, your book is piggy backed with five competitive books. The ad costs $49.00 per month. I sold two books the first month. I cancelled the campaign.
I’m experimenting with ads on Facebook. You can create a campaign budget and target audience starting at $5 per ad. So far, I’ve spent $35 on three ads. I’m having fun racking up tons of likes. I’m waiting for the book sales to come rolling in.
Next, I’m planning a press release on PR Web with a target audience of 30,000 journalists and bloggers. The idea is to drive traffic to my web sites and to generate publicity on major news sites and search engines. The campaign will cost $250. To do it right, I will need a book trailer video as part of the package. A simple video will cost another $250. I am using California Videowork to produce the video.
Wait a minute…This makes no sense.
I will have to sell at least a thousand digital copies of my book at $3.99 each to generate a profit (after deducting advertising and self-publishing expenses, plus a few hundred hours of my valuable time).
The odds of selling a thousand digital copies of my book are probably north of a zillion to one.
You know what? Fuck the odds.
*I apologize for assaulting you with another image of “Three Days to Darkness.” I posted it to get a hyperlinked image of the eBook on my Facebook page. I can’t figure out another way to do it. I think Facebook makes it impossible to hyperlink images on FB pages because they want you to spend money advertising. I could be wrong about this.
First, though, please take a moment to shift your gaze slightly to the right. There it is—shining out into the world in all of its glory. Isn’t it beautiful?*
Technically, the cover image is a widget. Widgets are normally easy to use on WordPress. As with every rule, there are exceptions. The image widget is one of them. Here’s why. Upon opening the image template, I found a box requesting a URL for my cover image. I immediately said to myself, oh no. I may have used harsher language, but it was so long ago I can’t remember.
I tried to imagine the JPG of my cover art floating on a URL somewhere out in cyberspace. How, I wondered, can I get my image up on a URL?
I tried creating a blog post featuring the cover art all by its lonesome. Didn’t work. I tried creating an interior blog page. Also didn’t work. I made many other attempts, each with the same result: total despair. Fate had sentenced my cover art to live in obscurity in the back pages of my blog. It would never be allowed to take up permanent residence in a prominent place on the front page.
It would have been so easy if the software engineers had designed the image widget with a box and a button to upload cover art. Let the software create the damn URL, not me. That job is way above my pay grade.
As I fumed about the situation for the hundredth time, an idea bulb went off in my head. (I know idea bulb is a cliché. My head hurts too much from trying to solve this mystery to come up with an original metaphor.)
Try using the media library in your dashboard to find the URL, my brain told me.
Okay, I replied.
In my media library, I found several URL’s for my cover art. I tried each of them. The widget template stubbornly refused to accept every one I entered. In a rage, I smashed my head several times on the wooden Starbucks bench and nearly strangled the person next to me. This is why my head hurts. No kidding.
Maybe the image you are using is too heavy, my brain suggested. Try using an image with less than 1.55 megabytes; dummy.
Right, good thinking.
I followed my brain’s advice. Finally, one of the URL’s worked. I can’t describe the ecstasy that came over me. I had finally done it. I had achieved one of the basic steps towards marketing a book online.
To put it mildly, writing a novel and self-publishing it is a long and interesting journey. The fun really starts, however, when it comes time to go out into the world to sell your book. Though I’ve just begun this process, I feel the urge coming on to write a blog about marketing. Stay tuned.
*By clicking on the cover image, you can go to my Amazon page. I’m not suggesting you try this. I just wanted to mention it in passing.