For those of us who got into this business because we want to write, marketing is a huge unwelcome distraction. It presents conflict, and not just because of the time it consumes. There are other, more disconcerting conflicts as well.
For instance, market expectations. I was recently told by an agent/publisher that my new novel is too long. To me that is like Solieri telling Mozart that his music has too many notes. I know that under the same circumstances this person would not have told Stephen king or Larry McMurtry that their novels were too long.
I understand that such observations come from knowledge of the market place and are not an actual critique of my work per se. Increasingly, representatives of the market have become less concerned about the quality of writing than its marketability. The two measures are not necessarily related.
The marketplace today is flooded with books. Giants like Amazon list millions. Every author is looking for an edge. Exposure is king. The quality of an author’s work is immaterial if no one reads it.
And so it is increasingly important to know the market. Your specific market. What is your niche? Is your marketing focused on your readership or is it too general? Are your keywords accurate, is your category correct, do you tag effectively?
The learning curve is huge. As I prepared for the release of my second novel this September I learned that a fall release may not be the best timing. Why? Because the “Big Five” publishers traditionally dump their new books in the fall. Who knew? Will it affect me? Maybe not, but it is one more nugget of knowledge that I will squirrel away for future consideration.
You can’t do it all. But you can stay informed. I rely heavily on book marketing experts, not as a client, but as an avid reader of their bulletins, blogs, and newsletters. It is their business to stay on top of market tendencies and I know that if I read those columns two or three times a week, I will remain relatively current. And hopefully my decisions will reflect a bit of their wisdom.