The Challenge of Promoting, Part 1

The age of signings and other physical book promotion events is dwindling if not dead. Its cost-to-returns ratio is very low as readers switch to online purchasing of ebooks. This is especially so as publishers cut back drastically (or completely) on such expenditures. They allocate expenditures dominantly to the top 1% of their current internationally selling authors with the highest name recognition. Sometimes not even for them, and footing the bill yourself is unadvisable...

Reality Check vs. Advance Check

This is not personal; this is business. Wasted money means publishers have less to spend in acquiring that next surprise best-seller that might be yours. Your own money will not buy your book that status through signings and the like. Multiple accounts we have followed over 30+ years of (relatively) new authors making such expenditures prove this true. When verifiable numbers were acquired,  part or all of their advance money had vanished, if they were professionally published. Sales did not support the approach as effective.

We are talking about the vast majority of cases here, and cited exceptions do not carrying any weight in a counterpoint. They are exceptions and in the exceptional minority.

Selling Success (Do Not Buy It)

In the case of self-publishing, so much the worse, and do not be taken in by “success” stories touted from self-publishing portals. That is a promotion for those businesses. The number of “best-seller” stories among authors with professional publishers is very low;  it is exponentially lower among self-published authors. Success, like your book, is built through work, not bought.

The book market is global and has been so for some time. Whether self-published, professionally contracted, or both, you have to think globally but sensibly. In doing so, we must face more bad news and hurdles.

The Decline of Social Promotions

Ever wonder why the number of advertising ads for social systems is increasing? The effectiveness of social systems for promotion is dwindling, and that is the only prime income for such systems. Up to three causal factors may be involved:

  1. As more services and products (including [e]books) are marketed online, the noise level for the target audience is rising rapidly and will continue to do so. Potential customers (readers) are increasingly ignoring anything that is not an in-the-moment want or need. They are taking steps to shut out the noise or at least filter it. They seek out long term needs/wants on their own.
  2. In facing consumer disinterest (through being annoyed), large companies are becoming frugal about advertising in social systems; hence why those systems are targeting social users for advertising income. Just the same, any social system has limits on how much advertising it willingly throws at its individual users. Your personal expenditure in promoting on such systems is a fraction of a penny to a corporation’s silver gold dollar. Hence the spread of your ad will be minimal in competition.
  3. Social systems free to users cannot change that rule now, so they must gain new revenue — from users — though not in access. [They wouldn't dare that!] To encourage users repeat expenditures, they limit the reach of your personal updates. This includes limits on users who chose to subscribe to your social account. You only gain an increase in spread of your news (among subscribers of your subscribers) if your direct subscribers give that individual update a thumbs-up or equivalent. The social system intends this to encourage you to pay for greater spread to bypass this social-filter mechanism. The amount of spread for purchased social advertising is diminishing visibly (on purpose).

All of this may seem like an argument against promoting through social systems. Perhaps so. Still, these systems are still the only [near] zero-cost (in money) promotion available to you. You will have to dance with these Social system devils. Do so efficiently and lead that dance from the beginning to minimize the later costs (in time if not money); and that is the true foundation for effectiveness.

Yes, efficiency first, or you lose time for what matters most: writing the next book you must promote effectively. Most new authors get this backwards; some who are well-established got it wrong at first and learned the hard way. We will get to that in Part 2.