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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Does Marketing Work With Just One Product?

Most writers are baffled with the concept of marketing. They want to do what they are naturally good at and that is write. But sensible authors realise they have to do battle with this extraordinary subject once in a while to actually sell some books. They blog, tweet, promote on Facebook and participate with LinkedIn discussions. And if they really have time and patience they will try to navigate their way round the complex maze of Goodreads.

Some new and naive writers think all they have to do is write just one book and they will become an instant bestseller. Although that might be true in some very rare cases, it is still the exception and most writers will slog away for years without any recognition. Because of this, writing is tough and it's not a business for the faint hearted or the commitment phobic. Besides, some authors appear to write their first best selling book and readers naturally haven't heard of them before. It's only after a certain amount of time that the writer will reveal they've been writing for the past ten years but no one has bought their other books. And it's this common way of thinking that tricks people into believing they'll only have to write one book to be famous.

A lot of writers will argue that before you try and publish or promote anything you have to have a decent backlist of books to release over a short period of time. They say this will ensure that readers will not forget you, and if they enjoy the first book they are naturally going to want to buy more from the same author.

But what if you're not one of these authors? A lot of writers just start out with one book to publish and promote. I suspect that writers with a large backlist were trying to get published the traditional way. And while they were waiting for agents and publishing houses to take them on they wrote more books. Then they decided to self publish these books and away they went.

Joe Konrath recently blogged about a similar topic. He said readers most often bought what was right in front of them whether it was their initial choice or not. If readers only have have a small selection of books to choose from, if they are determined to buy something they will pick one of these books. A year ago he also said that some types of marketing don't appear to work. And a lot of writers will agree that when they appear on a radio or television show to promote their books, sales are largely unaffected.

I'm not saying that marketing doesn't work. I'm saying that a large percentage of what we do as writers doesn't work. Of course some aspects of marketing will work but the major problem for anyone with a product to sell is knowing just what they have to do to generate sales when most marketing strategies just prove fruitless.

But another thing most writers seem to agree on is this and this may be the best marketing advice to date. The more books you write the more you will sell. This is just one basic law of Maths. The more books you write the more you will hone and polish your craft. The more books you write the better they will be. Dean Wesley Smith is a huge fan of this formula.

So keep writing. Do as much writing as you can and only then promote your work. Spend time promoting your books when you're busy collecting ideas for the next one. That is what I plan to do. I want to finish my fourth book (I'm currently writing my third). And then I will stop and have a rest and spend time marketing my current books.


  1. A great post...bottom line, keep writing.

  2. Thanks Elisabeth! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  3. I strongly believe that marketing is evolving with the many forms of social media now becoming popular with virtually everyone. Some people swear that they don't use them, but in the same breath will be putting a link on Linkedin or even in an email - which really I think was the original electronic social media platform (unless that is you as old as I and remember bulletin boards?)
    Take yourself for example, every time I read your blog I am reminded that I really must get your books at some time as I like the way that you write so would probably like your books. I know that you are not 'pushing them', but the fact that you are a prolific writer is doing that for you - at least on our small part of Linkedin. Just my two cents..

    1. While I was wasting away, waiting for my newest book to surface, I got frustrated watching everyone else's book fly into publication while I still waited.

      When I got the word last October that my book was coming soon, I STUPIDLY contacted all friends and relatives to let them know. BIG MISTAKE!!! This will never happen with me again. Unless that 'puppy' is in my physical grasp, I will not promote my work.

      So I was not the only one waiting, all of my pool of acquaintances waited with me. Then friends and fans fell off. "AH, he doesn't have a book coming out", but I decided the first of March that my book was going to be out there, if I had to print and color the darn thing myself.

      Welcome, "Connect the Dots", and before the end of this week, my next book "Funny Business" will be out also. I'm thrilled and my readers will be too, finally!
      Cheers, Don

  4. Thanks Peter - I could really do with the extra sales right now! ;)

    Grassroots - Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. You're absolutely right. As a new author, I have struggled with the choice between writing new material and promoting what is already out there. Promotion necessarily takes time and focus away from writing and I truly enjoy writing. Short of finding a literary agent to handle the promotion (a challenging task for a new author), the best solution I have been able to come up with is to spend 4 to 5 hours writing new material and 3 to 4 hours promoting on a daily basis, using the weekends to recharge my creative battery. If any of you know an easier method I would love to hear it.

    William Inman
    Author "The Wolf's Lair Conspiracy"

  6. Hi William,

    Thanks for commenting. I think you've got the balance absolutely right there. As long as you make sure writing is always your first priority then I don't think you can go far wrong.