... escape me.
I know marketing is crucial for authors to sell anything, much less make a living from their books. But once we get past "write a blog," I'm lost. I don't tweet or twitter or whatever the hell that is. I don't use Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the hell they are. I participate on LinkedIn, but mainly for ghostwriting and editing work. I don't really use it to promote my books, although I do post "Brag time!" announcements when a book gets a particularly glowing review.
When we get to Facebook ads, pay per click, etc., it all goes right over my head. Or maybe through my head without stopping between the ears. I'm hopeless. I know marketing's important, but ... ugh.
I missed those early days of e-books by jumping on that bandwagon when the market hit saturation level and made clever marketing even more vitally important than ever. Sometimes I'm an idiot or just blind.
One problem I know I have is that old nonsense drilled into me--and many women my age and older--during youth: "Let your work speak for itself. Don't toot your own horn." That doesn't work in commerce today. With an increasing deluge of choices from which to select, the most effective marketing techniques are those that shout the loudest and distract potential customers from rival products.
I'm not kidding about the competition. First, let's set filters: romance genre, English, new within the last 30 days. As of today, Amazon posted over over 10,000 new books. Now, let's add two more filters: paranormal and Kindle. The 30-day total goes down to 935 new releases. My latest release, Triple Burn, goes live on April 15 and will compete with those 10,000-plus new releases. If I change the search parameter of "paranormal" to "science fiction," the odds improve: only 227 new titles were published in the last 30 days.
I read articles that emphasize the important of proper categorization. Triple Burn isn't really science fiction, at least not from a purist's standpoint. After all, it doesn't take place in the future, it's nothing like Star Trek, and Isaac Asimov would spin in his grave to have my story lumped in with his venerated works. What makes Triple Burn science fiction is that it's not paranormal (no witches, vampires, shape shifters, or other mythical beings) and it's not fantasy (no hint of magic or mythical creatures, although all romances are fantasies). It's contemporary, but not.
Using the correct keywords also helps, or so I'm told. With Triple Burn, I've made a real effort to employ that strategy of using keywords and phrases that will help readers searching for books like that find my book: alien, abduction, alpha male, reverse harem, romance. With the stiffly competitive nature of fiction, hitting the right search terms should at least bring the book up in more searches.
Book marketing requires good design. I posted some cover options that I designed. The floated like a lead balloon. So, I hired a cover designer. The experience working with that designer left a bit to be desired, but the cover she created is better than anything I could do. It helps to know the limits of one's skill: I'd clearly reached mine.
A good book description (a.k.a. "cover blurb") also helps. I enlisted help with that, too. I find it difficult to summarize my books, probably because I never start with a plot summary or outline. I get an idea and run with it, following where it leads me. Writing a cover blurb differs greatly from writing the book. It must hook potential readers, giving them some idea of the plot, but not revealing the whole of that plot. Since it's a romance, readers know it will have an HEA (a.k.a. "happily ever after"). That's a moot point. Romance readers don't read for the ending; they read for the journey. A well-crafted cover blurb entices readers to embark upon that journey.
Regardless, book sales are an uncertain thing. Before extending a contract to ghostwrite for someone, I discuss the project. Some clients are convinced that their ideas will translate into best selling books. In a way, that's good, because they need to believe in the worth of that idea in order to invest in hiring a professional writer. In other ways, that's not so good, because I feel honor-bound to warn them that the likelihood of them ever recouping their investment in royalties is slim to none: they'll have to engage in and/or pay a lot more in marketing to do that.
Marketing. It's a necessary evil.