To publish a successful book, be sure you’ve got the following:
1. word of mouth (the everyday reader kind)
2. publisher support (this might come from a stellar marketing plan or in-house enthusiasm)
3. mysterious things out of everyone’s control that are often unnameable and unknown (these also can “doom” a book, like having a release in the midst of a blizzard/flood/hurricane)
5. great trade reviews — I’m not convinced everyday readers even know these exist, but librarians and booksellers certainly do (and often base their purchases on them)
6. a great cover
7. a lot of reviews by “regular” people at Goodreads, Amazon, on blogs, and the like (this connects back to #1, but is less organic, more strategic, and less powerful, I think)
8. …and to give your book a second wind, make sure it’s nominated for awards
486. author efforts
How much of a book’s success is in the author’s hands? Is it even possible to measure an author’s promotional reach? The first question is easy: only the author’s efforts are in her control. But do writers really live this way? The second question is the more challenging one. I know of no hard and fast evidence that shows how an author’s promotional work affects overall sales, but I have to believe my one small voice doesn’t have the power to influence as many people as the other things on this list.
So where does that leave me?
Strangely comforted, believe it or not. I can’t make anything I write a hit. No one honestly knows how to make this happen, though we keep trying (and for those of us in publishing, it’s part of our job to do so). What I can do, though, is focus on promotion that excites me and drop the need to try everything.
How much of a book’s success do you think comes from an author’s efforts?
Anything you’d add to my list?
Caroline- thank you for this! It is helpful to hear how you have come to terms with your role/power in the process of publishing. I particularly appreciate the idea “focus on promotion that excites me and drop the need to try everything.” That one line actually makes promoting a book sound fun. And on a side note, the spine of your book is lovely!
Thank you, Becky. I was surprised how much I liked thinking about ways to connect with readers the first time around. That’s where I’d like to keep my focus.
And isn’t it pretty, pretty? Just adore every inch of May.
Carole Dagg says
All of your points are true, but I’d put a star by no. 3 – Mystery, luck…
I wholeheartedly agree, and I think most publishers, would, too.
Mia Wenjen says
I would add that pre-marketing is important. Do a cover release well before book publication. Do this again with a book trailer (and that doesn’t have to be anything fancy). Make yourself available for small interviews like Facetime Live or Google Hangout or a podcast even if the audience seems small. Likewise, try to guest blog for bloggers of all size audiences. PR begets PR and you can move up the food chain by doing smaller “gigs.” That’s the magic of the PR and social media.
Be sure to publicize all the PR efforts — those blog posts even for small or new blogs. Sometimes authors feel weird promoting themselves, so it’s easier to promote via third party. Be sure to PIN the one thing you want everyone to see about your newest book on Twitter. A pinned tweet lets everyone see what is important to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask … for shares, for retweets, for Amazon reviews. People will respond if requested but they can’t read your mind. Your readers may not understand how an Amazon review will help you.
Be sure to ask everyone (because it’s FREE!) to mark WANT TO READ on their Goodreads account before your book releases.
These are all small markers that help a book float to the top. It takes a lot of work to raise general awareness that your book is coming out.
My two cents! 🙂
Excellent advice, Mia. Looking forward to featuring you and your new book soon!