A few weeks ago I released my second fiction novel. As far as I can tell, since launch I have yet to sell a single copy. It’s a common issue a lot of authors deal with, but to be honest, I thought I might be an exception to the rule. Having been a professional marketer for almost 16 years now, I thought I knew all the tips and tricks of how to market something. I built out targeted ads for Facebook and Google, announced across my social channels, and even did a few giveaways. But still, not a single copy sold.
Now, you could argue that the reason it’s not selling is because it’s not any good. It is entirely possible that I’m simply not a good writer – but I’m pretty certain that this isn’t the issue, as people aren’t checking out the product and having a negative experience. They’re not even getting that far. As of this writing, there are three customer reviews on Amazon (from people who got advance review copies) and all three are positive. It’s not negative word-of-mouth that’s hurting.
And so, I’ve taken a step back to see just what it is that’s not working and I have come to the conclusion that I’m frankly going about things all wrong. So far with the launch of the book I’ve been focusing on promoting the product. Getting it in front of the right people, hoping that once they come across it and read the marketing blurb I’ll get them to take the hook and make a sale. I’ve been taking everything I’ve learned in my experience and applying it to this new product to push it out there to people to get them to bite – and that’s where I’ve been going about this all wrong.
What I have been missing is that my author “persona” is a brand itself, and the new book merely one of the products of the brand. In today’s world of personal connection, all of us marketers know that in order to build a successful business, on top of a quality product, you need a brand that people can trust and relate to.
If you’ve met me, you might have noticed that I’m pretty much an introvert. Sure, I can talk about marketing and technology and user experience nonstop. I love conversation – as long as the conversation is about something in particular. When it comes to self-promotion, however, I begin to hesitate. I think this is why my approach so far with my writing has been to focus directly on the books themselves, avoiding the writer behind them. What I need to understand, and we all need to understand, is that there’s a difference between self-promotion and openly providing honesty and value. We all know no one wants to sign up to follow a the twitter feed of their favorite company just to get a bunch of product promos thrown in front of them, but still we find marketing success in social channels and through content marketing. The way we’ve done this is by avoiding self-promotion, but instead building lasting connections between our companies and our customers.
That’s where I’m looking to make the same change to the way I’m going to go about my goal of being a successful author. I need to remember that just throwing some ads out there, even in front of the right people, isn’t going to cut it. To get someone to read what I’ve written, especially something with as much of an investment of time and money as a full novel, they need to believe that what I write is going to be worth reading.
And so I’m taking a step back. I’m opening up more, about myself, my influences, and my processes. I’m going to start working on the brand of William F. Aicher, author, instead of trying to sell some books. We’ll see how it works – but one thing I can tell you right now, just advertising a product doesn’t really work. And by now I should have known better.