Marketing: What works? What doesn’t?

Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail? How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success?

Thanks to the hosts for this marketing blog hop: Arlee BirdYolanda ReneeJeremy Hawkins, and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click on any of their blogs for all the links.

I’ve asked myself the answers to these questions all the time! I’ve done a lot of observing on book launches and marketing strategies for both traditional and Indie books to see what works.

You could seriously drive yourself absolutely crazy trying to follow all the marketing advice out there, thinking that’s what will bring success.

I’ve watched traditional publishers throw thousands into a lead book title to see it completely flop and vice versa.

I’ve seen Indie authors do everything they can from blog tours, to ads, to giveaways and their book never really takes off and vice versa.

Observed truths:

1. Word of mouth is the best marketing, and we can’t control that.
2. The best marketing is more content, in my case, more books.
3. All the marketing in the world won’t sell a book that readers aren’t looking for.
4. If you have a book readers want, then most marketing will work.
5. There is no magic formula.
6. There is no magic formula.
7. There is no magic formula.

My strategies:

1. Write the next book.
2. Connect with readers. (This is much easier to do when fans seek you out, not the other way around.)
3. Build my email list. (Slowly but surely.)
4. Offer free or loss leader books. (You can download Vanishing Point, the prequel to my spy series for free.)
5. Brainstorm creative more long lasting ideas for the launch of the first book in my new series this spring. For example: a free short story with an excerpt.

Last thoughts:

I’m looking forward to what everyone else has to say, but I’ll be honest. I’ve become more of a cynic when it comes to marketing. That’s why my biggest motto will be to focus on the aspects of my writing and publishing that I can control.

Do you agree, disagree with my observations?

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23 Responses to Marketing: What works? What doesn’t?

  1. Jessica Bell January 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Yeah. “There is no magic formula.” I truly believe it’s all just luck. We’ve just gotta keep keeping on.

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh January 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    No magic formula! When my first book took off, it wasn’t even from a marketing effort.
    Working on the next book.
    Thanks for participating in the symposium.

  3. Sheri Larsen January 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    I have no personal observations from my own arsenal, but I’ve learned a ton this morning from everyone’s posts. It sounds as though you’re saying “Concern yourself with what you can control, and let the rest be.” Sound advice.

  4. Natalie Aguirre January 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Agree that you can’t control the marketing. I think expanding where you market outside your group of friends would at least help get the word out about your book. That’s about all you can do–get the word out. You can’t control the rest.

  5. Jeremy [Retro] January 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    I love it, who knows why things take off… you could work so hard on project and go no where… or do nothing and it takes off. I have had too many failures in my life and lost a direction… I have been trying to find it, but forcing it is not the answer…

  6. Tony Riches January 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Yes if a book is going to do well, it probably will despite your best efforts to promote it. I think it helps to do what you can to make your work ‘discoverable’ by the right readers though!

  7. Crystal Collier January 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    I think there are some paid ads and quick promotions that help get traffic and visibility, but ultimately it will depend on a buzz happening. You do have to keep yourself sane while promoting, eh? If you aren’t having fun with it, it’s likely no one is.

    • Laura January 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

      I agree that quick promotions help and I’m willing to do that but it mainly results in a temporary sales boost. Every little bit helps. I like evergreen marketing – efforts that keep working, like more books. 🙂

  8. Cathy Olliffe-Webster January 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Honest and helpful words. Continuing to write is the best advice (advice I have to give myself every day). Like Rome, Stephen King wasn’t built in a day.

  9. tara tyler January 20, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    i hate that i cant control my destiny!!! ha!
    great ideas. been considering a newletter… more time that i dont have. but i would like to build a fan base!


  10. Susan Gourley January 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    I find myself becoming more cynical too and have done the same as you, concentrating on the next book. It’s more fun to write than market anyway.

  11. Chrys Fey January 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    There really is no magic formula. Two authors could do the exact same things to market their books. One can have amazing results and the other can end up with nothing. We really can’t control our sales or rank, etc. We can only do what we can and then after that it is out of our hands. Writing and publishing the next book is always a must.

    I got a copy of Vanishing Point. I’ll try to read it as soon as I can. 🙂

  12. SittieCates January 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    Word-of-mouth recommendations and more books. I agree. I’ve read success stories of authors who have achieved the bestseller status after publishing a large collection of books.

  13. Yolanda Renee January 21, 2014 at 4:08 am #

    Luck, that’s about it! LOL

    Writing that second or third book is a great idea, and offering a free short story to introduce your characters and writing style in that genre – great idea!

    Thanks for participating!

  14. Lynda R Young January 21, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    So what’s the magic formula? 😉

    I’ve heard many authors say the more books you have out there, more success you’ll find.

  15. M. J. Joachim January 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Give the people what they want…
    Yes, and listen to the people carefully, learning from their feedback.
    Also, be true to yourself, because sometimes the people don’t know what they want, and they just might need what you have to offer.

  16. Sherry Ellis January 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    I’ve seen quite a few bloggers say that writing the next book is what keeps the sales coming.

  17. Arlee Bird January 21, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    I think your observations and strategies are pretty sound. I do believe we have some control over word of mouth and that comes through our relationships and seeds we plant in media sources, but there’s not guarantee either. The point is to keep trying new approaches and see what’s working for others.

    Good luck with future promos.

    Thanks for joining in this event.

    Tossing It Out

  18. tammy theriault January 22, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    it’s very true…we make our own luck! and a newsletter is a great way to stay in touch and out there! newest follower, hi!

  19. karenjonesgowen January 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I totally and completely agree with everything you stated, especially #3 and #4 which is why writing another book is so important. I’ve written 5 of them and I know exactly which of my books is something people want and which ones aren’t, yet my marketing is the same on all of them.

  20. Kelly Polark January 31, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    Market as it fits you and your life, but most importantly, write more!

  21. Michelle Wallace January 31, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    I’m trying to make my way slowly through the symposium posts.
    I don’t have a product to market yet, but I like your to-the-point, no-frills advice.
    Thanks for sharing.

  22. Stina Lindenblatt February 21, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    I agree with keep writing. For most authors, we build our fan base one book at a time.

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