Updated: Feb 23
Recently an article appeared on my social feed with the following title: "Authors are Poor and Can't Sell Their Books". While that seems like a pretty dire title, I can certainly relate to the seemingly insurmountable task of marketing and trying to establish a readership as a relatively new author.
The Glass Wall of Publicity
The glass wall of publicity is something every author comes across. Sure some us breach it easier than others (a lot of them pay for a window to be opened) but many others hit the glass wall hard, unable to push past and left to only watch as the privileged few enjoy the sunshine lands of what lies beyond; and what does lie beyond? The welcoming arms of readership!
It's the holy grail for the new author and no, before anyone says it, it is not your agent's job to go and find that readership for you (and it certainly isn't your publisher's either)! Unless you are intending to throw some serious cash at online advertising, hire a professional publicist, or do some heavy leg work, what are you supposed to do? In my opinion, it all boils down to 'the people who said they would' as opposed to 'the people who did'. You know who we are talking about right? These are the people who when you announced you had published your first work, immediately threw their hands in the air and announced they'd not only get a copy but read it. Of course the fact of the matter is that most of them simply wont and of the ones that do, a precious few will actually read it and fewer still will go and make those precious reviews. At times it feels like you're practically begging your social following to say something - anything! Eventually, it all comes down to doing it yourself and there my friends, lies the Great Con!
"It all boils down to 'the people who said they would' as opposed to 'the people who did'."
Social media. I use it indiscriminately to keep in contact with anyone who shows so much as a passing interest in my publications. I've paid for adverts and I post almost every day on my business page. I'm also a member of a number of groups that allow you to advertise for free. Thousands of members locked away in private groups just waiting to be tapped into. Sounds fantastic right? Wrong! I did a quick study on one group that saw over 100 posts a day. NOT ONE had a single like let alone a share. Where were the readers? Well despite what the description of these groups might say, simply they aren't there. Authors are inherently selfish in their desires to find a following, they have no intention of helping out the other fish in the same proverbial pond. More to the point, the readers have no wish to enter such groups only for their social feeds to become dominated by authors peddling their books to anyone who will listen. They sequester away in small followings across the social platform, intolerant to the author or would be writer in their midst and blindly reading the same big names simply because they've blinkered themselves to the swathe of new possibilities out there.
Then you have the 'publicists'. These are the ones who step into the reader-less author groups grandly stating that for just $10 they'll promote your new book on their blog, or gain you hundreds of reviews overnight. Let me repeat that - Overnight! You are paying for someone to submit hundreds of fake reviews and this is considered acceptable!
Is the Old Way the Best?
I guess we can't be blamed for stooping to fake reviews when the task of authenticity seems to be so insurmountable. I can categorically say that I haven't and I never will - ever - even if that means I only get two or three! Maybe I just value my integrity more, I don't know. I'm sure I am not alone but it makes you think doesn't it?
So here I am unashamedly begging. You don't need to have read the whole book, you might only have read the first three chapters for free, you might have simply found after the first few pages that it wasn't for you - put a review, tell people what its about. Don't slam the book - that tells other potential readers NOTHING. If you didn't like it say why and THEN say if their were bits you did enjoy. The important thing is you aren't fake! You exist! You gave an opinion! You helped chip away at the growing con of publicity and helped the genuine prevail.