Marketing your book is like driving with your foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time. One must have patience while waiting to see and understand results from Social Media advertising, waiting for readers to write reviews (or not), waiting for reviewers to read the book, waiting as the sales algorithms at Amazon change yet again.
I am currently in such a condition, rushing to make my promised publication date this month for the newest Zack Tolliver, FBI mystery, Canaan’s Secret, with much editing and formatting, preparatory to offering the book for pre-sale on Amazon. After that, watch, wonder, and wait.
At present, my sales come mostly with ebooks, more specifically with KDP. It is a good sales platform. But it is difficult to get a sense of how to sell there. Traditional publishing houses and known authors with big platforms have recently discovered this outlet and have jumped aboard, and certain categories are getting overcrowded. How to compete with big advertising budgets?
In my particular category of Native American crime mystery, one or two Indie writers have managed to hold their own. To my mind, the leveling effect of placing everyone in the same pool, sinking or swimming according to virtue and quality rather than massive promotion still does work in a general way, but the playing field is far from even, and the time between initial offering to realization of results is much longer. The advantage of name familiarity is large. Readers searching for a book are drawn to known quantities and will hover longer over the book of an author they recognize. The key to successful sales on Amazon is visibility. Large scale promotion, whether at Amazon or elsewhere, does provide that.
For the less known writer to sell well, your book must reside in the top 100 in your category. Amazon makes the titles in that group visible. But you will not be in the top 100 unless you sell well. How do you get there? Keep writing, keep up with the latest marketing tactics, and have patience.
Book marketing gurus always come back to the same idea––unless you have an amazing platform, the key to success is 1. Write a great book 2. Have a great cover 3. Do it again. But to succeed in this, the books must be visible. And that requires marketing.
Those writers who do well in my particular fiction category do this. They write a series, the longer the better. I was once present during an informal chat with John Sanford, successful author of the Prey and Virgil Flowers novels. At that time, he had published 25 books in one series and 10 in another and had no intention of slowing down. Yes, he is a big name in publishing now, but at one time he had written just one book.
The top Indie writer in my category on Amazon has published 9 books, the next 10. Both have been among the top 15 or 20 in the category, competing with the Hillermans and Craig Johnson, among others. They have good books, good covers, but more than that, the patience to write many books. It takes time to write all those books!
Which is another reason you should enjoy what you write. Writing all those books would become mighty tedious if you didn’t!