Thursday, September 6, 2012

Misadventures In Marketing

Warning: The following post contains a certain amount of self-pitying and boo-hooing.

So as many of you may know, a couple weeks ago I held a promotional period wherein I made Float available for free on Amazon, which was met with rather positive download numbers, gaining roughly 12 times the amount of readers from the preceding 3 months combined in just two days. It made it into a few top 100 Free lists on Amazon. When the weekend came to a close, I was ecstatic.

But then Monday came, and nothing else happened. I was hoping for a few straggler sales to trail, or at least a handful of positive (hell, even negative) reviews. But nothing. What went wrong? Whatever it was, I wasn't going to accept it. In my desperation, I turned to utilizing Facebook ads. At a low-risk cost, I was able to target Float to a specific audience, only paying when a user clicked on my ad, capping at a predetermined daily budget. Of the nearly 45,000 people my ad was shown to, only 39 people clicked on it. And none of them got themselves a copy, even when priced at the lowest possible rate of $0.99.

W. T. F.

Is it really that bad? Is the only positive feedback I've received just the manufactured product of obligated friends and family members? It may not be a masterpiece, but I know it is (both objectively and subjectively) better than some books I've read in print - even, dare I say, some best sellers. So what was the problem?

Then a little nugget of wisdom I gleaned from an author blog (probably JA Konrath's) came back to me: Only fans will read your stuff. No one is going to buy your material if they don't know you and your writing. When was the last time you read a book that wasn't suggested to you from a trusted source? Sure, there are a few people who actively seek unknown authors, but most of us (myself included) don't venture much past personal recommendations or national sensations.

Maybe, if I had the funds, I could saturate the market with self-paid ads for my book and grab the attention of .0001% who see it. Maybe I could hire a publicist to shove my face in front of people who don't care. But most likely, I'll need to go Tortoise and the Hare on this mother: Slow and Steady.

So, for the time being, I'm not going to focus on ads or fruitless self-promotion. I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to keep blogging. I plan on pumping out a few short stories between novels, hopefully to keep people interested. In time, with tenacity and integrity, I will build my audience one reader at a time, and see where it goes from there.

This concludes the self-pitying and boo-hooing.