I see a ton of people releasing their books or gearing up to release books (congratulations!), and so I thought I’d talk a touch about marketing. I haven't released a book, but I'm related to a person or two with business and marketing degrees.
Let’s start with some facts:
Marketing sells things. Marketing even sells books.
Marketing is an unsustainable effort.
Marketing is not the only way to have your book take off.
You will have no control of whether your book “takes off” or not.
It’s time for an analogy. Releasing a book is a lot like flying a kite (from the selling and marketing side, at least). There are factors out of your control, weather, for instance. There are factors in your control: the build of the kite, the length of the string, etc. You might be able to change your location, but without going to extremes, you’re probably stuck with your weather.
Sometimes when you go kite flying, everything is perfect, and your kite just leaps into the air with hardly any effort from you. Sometimes when you go kite flying, there isn’t enough wind to move a quark. On days with no wind, you might try running to make a breeze for your kite. So you run and run and run. Your kite has a sort of wobbly flight, but it's up. This is the marketing. The running is marketing. It’s fake wind. Remember, even if it is fake wind, it still sells books. Sometimes it sell thousands of books. But remember the running? You probably can't keep that up forever.
Sometimes, you run long enough and hard enough, and you can get your kite into the magical upper winds where it can then remain high sailing with little to no effort. Sometimes, no amount of running will get your kite into those upper winds, and it is destined to come back to Earth.
This is why some books flop and some books take off (seriously, who could have predicted the super mega hit of 50 shades???), and why plenty of completely wonderful books die in obscurity. There are factors out of your control. You cannot change the wind, though you can run for a little while. Sometimes the marketing really does work. Sometimes it really taps into a bigger audience. Sometimes, the audience is hiding.
These are factors beyond the control of any author, so if you’re smack dab in the middle of running to help your kite fly, I feel for you. If you’re still putting your kite together, make sure you pick where you try to fly it.
Good luck out there writers, and I hope it’s breezy in your markets.
(still building my kite)