The Indie Book Marketing Game

Posted on August 14, 2013


How to market self-published or small press-published books is quite the craze. There are hundreds of “how to sell what you write” blogs, websites and promos. After looking into a lot of them I decided to try to analyze where they come from, what they signify and the effects they have on self-publishing and indie press authors.
Somewhat arbitrarily (certainly not scientifically) I selected twenty-eight book marketing sites to examine. Somewhat to my surprise none of the twenty-eight mentioned the word “literature,” a concept I’ve long associated with books and writing. Slightly over half of the twenty-eight in their elaborations of “how to” and “what to” made any references to the quality of subject matter or of writing and most of those that did only tangentally referred to “good content.”
One marketer compared selling books with selling prunes. (Good quality prunes, I presume, although there was no indication that quality was taken into consideration.) Several others insisted on the necessity to start marketing before one starts writing and to write only something that would conform to what marketing indicated would sell well.
This seemed to be a common theme among the twenty-eight. However, what none of them stated is that this totally changes the paradigm: One no longer is a writer looking for ways to market his product but a marketer looking for products to sell. Thrust aside any consideration that some who write do so because they have something to say and want to say it the best way possible. The book is a prune. The trick is to make it as saleable as possible.
If a prospective marketer/author were to determine that a book on how to hook junior high schoolers on cocaine or how to seduce twelve-year-old virgins would be a big seller he or she immediately should pop out a book about it. As advocated by the twenty-eight sales is the goal whether prunes, mysteries or sci-fi monsters are offered.
Immoral? Illegal?
All the better! Books banned by religions or governments sell like hotcakes! (Tasty hotcakes, that is.) Some of the twenty-eight marketers I investigated promote book cover designers since “covers sell books!” and cocaine and virgins make exciting promotional material. (Forget about content.)
Admittedly, writing a book about the very marketable subjects above would involve months of computer pounding, research, formatting, revising, editing. Writing, however enjoyable, is hard work. But in looking over the twenty-eight sites I realized they include a lot of duplication, particularly for Twitter, FaceBook, blogging, e-mail how-tos.
Each of the twenty-eight also presented new twists, new insights (cars instead of prunes, hoots instead of tweets) and most offered inexpensive services of one kind or another (reviews, blogfests, weekly tips) and it occurred to me that one could more easily paraphrase what the marketers were doing, add a few personal touches, set up an ad page, design e-books, initiate sales trails than write, write, write and in less time than it would take to produce a readable manuscript one could set up blog pages, review sites, book clubs, editing services and graphic designs.
Charge very modest fees for very modest services. Given the marketing craze one could be getting $9.99s more rapidly than royalties on a Kindle edition. Get a hundred wanting-to-self-publish authors to sign on and you’d have $1,000.
But being a successful marketer you’d undoubtedly triple or quadruple that: $3,000, $4,000…
The sky’s the limit!
So why bother to write?
We all should be marketing marketing!