Last month saw the release of my latest book. I put my heart and soul into it, and despite amazing reviews, it's not selling. Why? Because of visibility.
Visibility is the curse of all writers. You can write the best book in the world, but unless it can be seen by others then it will disappear into obscurity. Take Amazon for example, where you are competing with millions of other titles, all seeking that holy grail of appearing in the search results.
I know that I have spent many more hours attempting to market the book than went into writing it. I've done Facebook takeovers, live readings from the book on Facebook, paid for advertising in newsletters on websites and social media sites, paid for Amazon and Facebook adverts. I've posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Hour after hour and certainly £ after £ was spent creating eye-catching graphics, video trailers and more. More hours were spent posting on social media, thanking others for sharing and then completing advertising submissions.
The result of all that... very little indeed.
What did I learn? That the art of book marketing is some weird form of alchemy with an ever-changing recipe. What worked six months ago doesn't work now. By the time I've figured out how something works the algorithm has changed and I'm back where I started.
I learned that the more money you spend on an advert is no guarantee of success, in my case I got better results from the low-cost adverts that were $10 or less. The two very expensive adverts produced very few results and returned barely a fraction of the investment. These were adverts that had been recommended by other authors. Right now I'm glad I got rejected by Book Bub as the thought of having no sales after spending over $400 on an advert is heartbreaking. That's right, the holy grail that is Book Bub doesn't actually guarantee you a return... I only found this out when I got rejected and bemoaned the fact to some author friends. Lucky escape or missed opportunity? I honestly can't afford to find out.
So what are we to do as Indie authors, how are we to achieve this nirvana of visibility? I'm afraid that's a question I still need to learn the answer to, although I would welcome your input. There seem to be a plethora of specialists out there happy to show me the way, but they all want me to exchange thousands of dollars for the privilege. Whilst I appreciate the old adage you need to speculate to accumulate, I'm already severely out of pocket with no prospect of a change in sales figures going forward.
With some readers bemoaning the fact they have to pay for our work, and the mass of pirate sites giving our work away for free, I suspect that a lot of writers will quit. Between work and family and just trying to have a life, they cannot spare the time that writing requires, much less the additional time required for marketing. This saddens me as there are some truly amazing indie authors out there who deserve to be seen.
What can you do as a reader? Like and comment when you see their posts on Facebook (liking is no longer enough apparently), follow their author pages on Amazon and Book Bub, buy their books and leave a review. They're all simple things that will help increase the visibility of the book, that the author cannot do for themselves.
So whilst I sit here writing my next book and wondering when I'll have to find a more lucrative occupation, go have a look at what you last read and leave the author a review. It's the little things that count.