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Social media is not dead. Book reviews are not worthless. Marketing is not hopeless. (Paid advertising is a different can of worms, so I'll leave that alone for now.)

Here's my advice to you, and not just from a writer, but from an old guy who has spent over two decades in sales and marketing:

Fix your expectations.

Your hopelessness comes from reading (or perhaps interpreting) that marketing doesn't work. But ask yourself this: "Marketing doesn't work ... for what?"

What doesn't marketing work for? Selling books? Do you mean it doesn't work for selling ANY books, or only that it doesn't work for becoming a bestseller immediately?

The biggest and most common problem I see in people's marketing is that they have completely unrealistic expectations. In fact, most of the time, they don't even know what they expect. "Selling some books" or "getting some exposure" is NOT a marketing outcome that you can measure. If you can't measure your progress toward a goal, you can't decide if your marketing works. Moreover, if you don't have a specific, very finite goal in mind, you can't make a strategy for it.

Everyone wants to hit a marketing homerun. Which is fine. But it's not likely. So, knowing that statistically you probably won't buy some ad somewhere and end up on the front page of Amazon, ratchet your expectations down and, more importantly, come up with ONE strategy that you CAN do very carefully and very well.

You can't have Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Linked In, a blog, a website, another blog, a bunch of blog tour dates with content to write for them, take time to find review sites and apply to them (which is much preferable to sending out mass "review my books" emails to them all at once, which just makes them roll their eyes and delete your request), and whatever else you are trying to do ... and expect to do any of them "right." Especially if you are new to it all.

Patience. Discipline. A plan. Work your plan, track your results, and tweak what you are doing based on what you learn from what isn't working. THAT is how marketing works. I know that lots of people will immediately leap on what I am about to say and tell you all the reasons why it is a crap idea, but it's not. So, here goes: Start with Facebook. You simply cannot get access to more people in more ways for less money. Second, just do Facebook until you are doing it really well. Learn it. It's a tool. Read up on it. Watch some of those cheesy free webinars from the marketing "gurus" who are trying to get you to sign up for their services. They put on like fifty webinars a week. Go watch them. Don't sign up for whatever they are selling (and you'll want to, especially if they are good; they'll get you all excited. So don't do it). Just learn what they will give you for free. At least for now. If you want to sign up for their stuff later, fine, but don't pay anything until you've watched at least twenty hours of free webinars from a bunch of them. And remember as you watch that stuff, that they are marketers of the super aggressive kind most of the time, which means they will teach you "tricks" and "techniques" that will get you Likes but irritate people. So, look for the guys who come at it from a genuine engagement set of strategies. But just listen and learn. They can all teach you stuff.

Likes. Get likes on your page. Likes on your page from people who might actually really be someone who likes what you write. GO FOR QUALITY LIKES OVER QUANTITY. You aren't going to convert people to sales right away. People have to see something several times usually before they buy. Yes, there are impulse buyers, but, if you think you are going to come up with a strategy to get so many impulse buyers you have a best seller, you aren't being realistic based on the odds. So, play to win on your strategy not on luck. Get people to LIKE your book page. Readers, not writers. Not your mom and everyone at work. Readers. The kind that like your kind of stuff. Then talk to them. Don't jam up book links all the time. Put pictures or links to articles or movies or songs... whatever, that speak to what your stories, your readers will like. ENGAGE them, entertain them. Don't pitch your stuff all day. Everyone hates salespeople.

Build up the fan base. Use paid ads to get LIKES. Don't expect sales. Be patient. It's how many you can sell this year, not by today or tomorrow. Yes, people will say it's all about today, not down the road. So, ask those guys to tell you how that today-only strategy works, because I don't see too many doing it ... especially from the start, where you are now.

So anyway, sorry, this got really long, but I can feel your frustration, and I see a lot of advice about marketing on here sometimes that I really, really think is bad and wrong, or at least horribly misguided. Do FB. Do it well. Learn about it. Build fans on your page first, then engage them. 70% content that you find around that is good and speaks to them that you can just link easily. 20% content that you make that is fun, new, you, interesting, but NOT selling. 10% content pointing to your books and what you sell.

Just one guy's opinion. Sorry it got so long. Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you need help with it. It's not hopeless, and you live in a rare moment in time where people like you and I have access to a marketing solution that absolutely defies anything that's ever existed throughout all of time. For however much longer it lasts. Jump on before the train finally does crash.
 

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LilianaHart said:
I say meh, and a few other things that I can't repeat here on KB. I know several new authors who are doing very well out of the gate. And it's because they listen to the advice given to them from authors who have experience. You have to write good books, and you need several of them. AND THEN...you need to keep writing great books on a schedule that keeps you at the top of the ranks. Amazon works on a cycle. You have to keep feeding it. I have a book coming out every two months this year. Three of them are written, but I still have 5 books to write and 2 anthologies. I work 14-16 hours a day, and I do everything. It's hard.

Marketing does work. You have to market. Social media is marketing. Reader conferences and book events are marketing. Be visible. The more people see your name, the better off you are. I took advice from others who gave it when I started, and I published 5 books at one time, and then I kept it growing, all the while building my fan base. You have to do EVERYTHING (Steps 1-5 and then steps 6-42 that aren't listed) for this to work. And here's the thing...it doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen in a year. And sometimes it doesn't happen in two years. Keep writing and building your catalog and your fan base. It'll eventually work if you keep writing good books. On the other hand, sometimes it does happen quickly. A lot depends on genre, your Internet presence and a whole host of other things.

1.) I've tried Select. I've never liked it and didn't think it worked that great when it started. Every second you spend in Select is a second you're not building your fan base at other outlets. It doesn't matter if Select is getting you money NOW. You need to think money in the LONG TERM. Because the now money eventually disappears, just like it does in Select. And when it does, you still don't have that fan base built up at other retailers and you're still poor.

2.) Twitter and Facebook can be time sinks if you just get on there and play games and talk to other writers. Build a fan base and communicate with readers. And then keep doing it. It's part of your job. There's really no way to get around social networking in today's publishing age. It has to be done. Embrace and nurture it. Also, Twitter and Facebook are two vastly different sites. Your fans are different on each. Take the time to learn how to talk to each place. I've got 2700 followers on Twitter--almost all of them use some type of i device. I've got 2400 fans on facebook--most of them use Kindles. These are important things to know.

3.) It depends. Usually the promotions that work are the ones that are more expensive. Even when I first started I didn't waste my time with blogs that had 25 subscribers just because they asked me to post or advertise. The best promotion is a new book. I've done only a handful of paid promotions since I started. It's not necessary for a successful career. I'm about to do my first huge one in February. It was an invite only promo and it cost me big bucks. We'll see if it works. If it doesn't, I'll know for next time.

4.) I've never solicited reviews. Anyone who reviews my books picks it up on their own. I will send ARCs to reviewers if they're on a reputable blog review site and if they email and ask.

5.) The thing about sites picking up your free books is this: they're more likely to do so if they know you're going to have a lot of downloads. They want the sure bets that are going to garner a lot of traffic. I've never NOT had POI or ENT pick up a freebie of mine. Usually I don't even have to email them. They like authors who have an extensive catalog with good reviews. And they like books that have good commercial appeal.

Mostly, indie publishing takes a lot of hard work plus a lot of good books. I see the authors who have the best success have a combination of (great social media presence+great books+business savvy).
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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vlmain said:
Agreed. I have worked in advertising and marketing for over 20 years, and I find that too often people have unrealistic expectations, and become discouraged when they don't see immediate results. Paid advertising works but it doesn't happen with one or two ads. Consumers need to see an ad multiple times over a period of time before the majority will respond. A lot of people pull the plug before the ads even have a chance to work.

Targeting is also critical. We need to identify who our audience is and go where they are. If we are writing books on dog training, we need to be buying ads on pet forums, pet related blogs, and similar websites and magazines. Ads on Facebook might generate a few sales, but for the most part, people don't go to Facebook looking for advice on how to make their dog stop barking. They are there to socialize. But if someone has a dog whose barking is driving the neighbors crazy, they will go looking for information on forums, pet blogs, Q&A sites, etc.

Paid advertising should be a part of everyone's marketing plan, but it has to be targeted advertising, and done over a long period of time. Otherwise, it would be a waste of money.

Just my newbie two cents worth.
Facebook allows you to target your advertising completely and entirely towards people who not only like dogs, but who like particular types of dogs, or who like the Dog Whisper show on cable, who like Alpo or who like Organic only food, or who like "Dog training and grooming" or any number of sub-niches. That's the BEAUTY of Facebook. BUT, it, like any tool, requires some time to learn so you do that stuff RIGHT. That's why I suggest people just pick ONE marketing avenue and get good at it. Be a master of one thing rather than a slapdash participant in a bunch. That's how I see it, anyway, and it's certainly helped me.
 
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