importance of marketing

Marketing, for the self-publishing author, is a many-headed hydra and prompts endless questions and dilemmas.  Major publishing houses have plenty of time and money to throw into marketing (although they would argue otherwise), particularly in comparison to you or me and any other self-publishing author out there.  They hire people whose entire careers revolve around taking care of the marketing process for their A-list authors, an enviable prospect because all we really want to do is write more books, right?  And yet, instead, we have both the blessing and the burden of running our own publicity campaigns.

Sometimes, I wake to a new day packed full with plans and routines to balance against each other, and I wonder:

  1. Aren’t we always told that the hardest part of writing a book is writing the first paragraph?  (Whoever says such things has clearly never attempted to tackle the tricky beast of self-promotion.)
  2. Are there ideas I can steal from others about how to be more effective, so that I have more time to spend on what I actually love?  (Which is, of course, writing.)
  3. Who gave the world permission to make me wake up to an empty coffee pot?

In all seriousness, though: the way we approach marketing, as self-publishing authors, matters.  Because it’s not optional.  It’s not something we can get away without doing.  We won’t sell books, and we won’t make room in our lives for the next book, either, if we don’t give some of our time over to marketing.

As Gareth Howard over at Infinity Publishing puts it: “Would you bake a delicious cake and not even eat it?  Would you revise for important exams and not bother sitting them?  Would you book an exotic vacation only to stay at home, wasting that precious deposit?”  The answer is, of course, no.  No, you wouldn’t want to waste the precious time and energy you’ve invested in crafting a beautiful manuscript–you want it to be read.  You want your ideas to reach your readers!  And sadly, we still haven’t figured out a way to guarantee authors that their books will just magically sell once they’re published.  There’s still a vital legwork and elbow-grease component to the whole thing.

You do, thankfully, have an advantage over the enormous publishing houses with their big budgets and their paid professionals: You can make it personal.  You can lend the marketing process a human touch, and you can take advantage of the most effective means of self-promotion known to humankind: your existing social network.  You can also pick the things you do well, and reach out for professional help (with a shout-out to my day job) only when you really need it.  The key is, of course, being prepared to work and work hard to achieve your marketing goals.

Others here on the SPA blog have written about marketing before, and have presented a number of ideas on how we can all be more effective at self-promotion as self-publishing authors.  This holiday season, however, I’d like to issue a specific challenge to you (and myself!): Let’s figure out the next workable, manageable, and sustainable step that we can use to bolster our existing strategies.  It’s no good if we have lofty goals that we never reach, so let’s be specific even while we’re also being optimistic.  I bet you my best unsharpened pencil that we can do better in 2016!

There is, of course, a danger in all of this:

Once we acknowledge just how important marketing is, the process has a tendency to take over our lives and erode away all semblance of spare time we might have.  Fortunately, there are a whole host of resources out there for you–to get you started, and to help you along once you’re already partway down the path.  And of course, I’m here for you too–and the SPA email as well as comments section is always open to lend you a listening ear.

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

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