We hear it and read it all the time. “Being an author is 10% writing and 90% marketing” or “The majority of the marketing is done by the author, no matter who the publisher is” or other such sayings. Pretty much, they’re true, or at least as close to the truth as we can realistically get. I’ve already discussed such topics as getting dazzled by numbers or book trailers. The next thing I want to discuss is marketing to other authors.
If you go to various online communities with fellow authors, you’ll typically find a certain camaraderie (with some exception, there are jerks in every group) where authors are helping out other authors. Actually, that’s pretty much the foundation for the Writers of Mass Distraction. Authors support each other in numerous ways including marketing tips, review exchanges, and even purchasing each other’s books (especially when they’re available cheaply in eBook format). This is all valid. Strength in numbers. Also, there is nothing like getting a thumbs up from a fellow author on your own writing. It’s done all the time whether it be the unknown author or the bestselling author.
One thing we need to watch, however, is the trap where we focus too hard on marketing our books to fellow authors. Here’s an example. You’re new book was released today. You’re real excited (and who wouldn’t be). You’re a little nervous (or a lot, like I was). The first thing you need to do is remind people that it’s out. So you log into Writers Digest, the Book Marketing Network, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. and start posting. There’s a problem though. You just found half a dozen ways to send the message to the same group. Why?
Well, the Book Marketing Network has many of the same people as Writers Digest. On top of it, what I have seen with many authors is that the majority of their “friends” and “followers” in Facebook and Twitter are fellow authors. The same thing with other social media sites. I’m actually no exception to this. To top it all off, we then go into the chat forums on Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads and into the discussion groups where authors are allowed to plug their books. The problem with these discussion groups is that they’re frequented more often by authors than by readers looking for the next book. Readers go to each other’s discussion groups to find out the latest scoop. Of course, if you decide to start plugging yourself in those areas, you’re probably going to get ridiculed and tossed out as a spammer.
Another issue I’ve noticed is marketing firms who build marketing networks of pretty much nothing but authors. So now you’re paying to advertise your work through this firm who has built their social media and email distribution list of almost entirely other authors who also paid for the service. When signing up for such a service, first check how many followers or friends they have (depending on the site). Take a look at the profile of them (random spot checks are fine) to see how many are other authors (one particular agency I looked at boasted about their social media networks and had numerous accounts but in total had no more than 300 followers, all authors). I can tell you that your average reader has no need to sign up for the mailing list of a book marketing firm as they are not into book marketing, they’re into book buying. They are more likely to sign up for review publications. Along with that, beware of email blasts. The last statistic I saw is that less than 1% of emails sent this way actually lead to a sale.
Is this to say that you shouldn’t send notice of your new release through your social networks of author friends? Not at all. I love seeing when an author friend or acquaintance comes out with a new book. Matter of fact, I’ve reviewed several of these and will continue to do so. Many other authors feel the same way. It’s good for us to support each other. Also, an author who likes your book will probably share the recommendation with non-author friends, the same way any other reader would so marketing to authors is still marketing and spreading the word. The thing is though, we are a small community so if you are looking for wider distribution, diversify. Spending exorbitant amounts of time or money on marketing to fellow authors is just unneeded. Your friends and acquaintances will probably buy your book the first time they see it listed, especially if you have done the same for them (some don’t but very little is 100%). The other side of this is to be weary of paid for services that use our camaraderie as a way to make money off of us. No need to hand over your hard earned cash for an outsider to do something it would have taken you five minutes to do yourself.