May 2, 2012

thoughts on marketing

Now that I’ve wasted most of the morning napping and being social on Google+, I suppose I ought to write my blog post. This is definitely the downside to not writing posts ahead of time.

Anyway, I’ve been having an interesting conversation on G+ about ratings and reviews and how they influence potential buyers. I’d like to believe that a reader looks at my book reviews and trusts these random strangers at their word, but I know that’s not necessarily case. I firmly believe that readers purchase books based on being exposed to a book, either by ads, book trailers, and book reviews, or by the more personal word of mouth and friend recommendations. Both in combination is going to make for a book sale rather than not.

For example. When the first Twilight film released, there was a lot of hype around the books. So much so, there was literally nowhere I could go that I didn’t hear some mention of it. Doubling that with my sister’s love of the books, I decided to read them. I came to the conclusion that the hype was unwarranted. The books were entertaining, but so-so. Still, Stephanie Meyer got a book sale from me. Of course, not every book is going to have the same hype as Twilight. Or, for that matter, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

Still, you don’t have to have a major amount of hype to get your book exposed to a potential reader. With social media, you can slowly build up a somewhat decent following, and when you tweet or update or post about your book, it’s likely that the friends you’ve made through social media will repost to their followers, who might be interested in the book. It’s digital word of mouth, but I still think it’s the most effective tool.

I did a post about marketing on the blog a while back, and I’d like to revisit some of what I wrote then.

First up, book trailers. Originally, I was iffy about book trailers. I didn’t think they’d really be that influential in selling books, but I’ve since reformed my opinion. Humans are visual beings. We rely heavily on sight. If, as authors, we use the right images, we can invoke emotions in a potential reader, either with the book cover or the more complicated book trailer. I think book trailers are getting better, and while I don’t necessarily buy a book based entirely on a book trailer, I definitely take notice of them now. And like I said in the original post, a book trailer exposes your book to an audience you might otherwise miss.

In fact, I plan on enlisting the help of some friends this summer and actually filming a new book trailer for The Clockwork Giant. If I could offer a somewhat cinematic experience, I might grab the interest of new readers. The one that I have isn’t bad. But it’s simple. And I want the book trailer to give a better sense of what the book is about. I’m hoping my sister will be up for being Petra, but we need to find a good Emmerich. One of my friends is a high school teacher, so maybe we can grab some drama students or something. Something.

Up next, book giveaways. I’d like to believe that book giveaways warrant word of mouth sales. But I have no proof of this working or not. I’ve given away anywhere from ten to twenty copies of The Clockwork Giant. Maybe that led to sales, but I’ll never really know. I’ll still give books away though. I’m more interested in readers than I am in buyers.

And then, there’s reviews. In my conversation on G+ this morning, we came to the conclusion that specific reviews don’t necessarily influence potential readers. At least, they don’t influence me. I’m more concerned with the average rating for a book, and that’s only after the cover/title/blurb has caught my attention. I’m still amazed that I haven’t gotten a review less than three stars. I figured there would be a few people who hated my book to the point of giving it one star and railing on it. Count your blessings I guess.

I do know that reviews influence some people, especially when there are several four and five star reviews, or the opposite, several one and two star reviews. But that brings me back to the average. I usually read books with a 3.5 star average or higher.

In my original post, I talked about S.P.A.M.—Something Posing as Marketing. On Twitter, it’s annoying. But now with Google+, there are better, easier, more engaging ways to market your book. You can post excerpts, reviews, your blurb. You can share the cover picture and other material related to your book. I don’t see it as SPAM on G+, because no one posts the BUY MY BOOK updates. They take the effort to share something about the book rather than yelling at their followers.

And now, there’s Pinterest. There may or may not have been Pinterest when I wrote the original post. I can’t remember. But I finally made the decision to make a Pinterest board for my book after reading this post by JodyHedlund. You can find that board here. I don’t know how well it will do as a marketing tool, but I have to try, right?

All in all, the only way that marketing will work is if you have a good book to start with. Good book + good marketing + good ratings = sales. No matter how you cut it. So-so book with so-so marketing and so-so ratings will get you so-so sales, if any at all.

In fact, I did an experiment last month to see how book sales would do if I did absolutely zero marketing for The Clockwork Giant. I’ll post those results on Friday. I was somewhat surprised. I didn’t think marketing had all that much effect on book sales. Boy, was I wrong.

What do you think of marketing?  What tools do you think are most effective?

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