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Marketing - more than free books on Smashwords

Woe is me. I was booked to present a marketing workshop a few weeks ago to a group of writers at a sci-fi convention, but the workshop got cancelled due to no bookings. The real woe for me that earning income from non book sales forms part of my marketing strategy. Sow hen things goes wrong in any marketing campaign, the first thing that should be done is an evaluation.

What went wrong?
What went right?
What would I do differently?
What would I do the same?

Part of this evaluation set me to thinking about why my workshop was cancelled .

Was it because:

a) the audience were only beginning to write their novels and were not at the marketing stage yet; or
b) the audience don't care about marketing their books

If the answer is b) because the audience don't care about marketing a book, then they're in big, big trouble. What many new writers don't realise is that there is much more to marketing a book than simply loading it for free to Amazon and Smashwords and hoping that you'll attract fans when it comes time to publish your second or third book.

Marketing involves developing a short term and long term plan, implementing both plans, and evaluating both plans. It involves preparing advertising campaigns that tell the readers why they should buy this book and maybe offers an incentive to buy the book. It involves using more mediums that simply Facebook and Twitter. It also is more than giving away books for free.

Giving books away for free seems to be the most popular means of marketing for many new authors. It's also something that I don't agree with. If a writer is going to give away a book, then do so in an environment where you can capture data, such as hosting a giveaway where you can capture email addresses of fans, or do an incentive promotion where you for a free book the reader must write a review. And while giving away product for free for a limited time is something many of the giant corporations do, just giving away your work for free for an unlimited time and without capturing data is poor for not just your business but for others' business too. It sets an expectation that the industry simply can't sustain. I, for one, don't want to be respected by her peers and admired by readers, but too poor to buy food and unable to pay bills.

I'm not saying free stuff isn't part of the plan. I host giveaways every now and then myself. But I am saying that just writing books and giving them away should not be the only plan a writer has.

Competition is fierce but don't be afraid to explore the wider world of marketing. The writer with a marketing plan is more likely to succeed that the writer without one. As the old saying goes, "A failure to plan is a plan for failure."


D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.

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