Book Sales … thoughts and questions

Family, Friends, Romans, all y’all, lend me your ear…20170214_153330.jpg

Now that Topaz has your attention…

As I was sharing my publishing goals for this summer with a friend last night, we got on the topic of book marketing. Wait, don’t leave! I need to set this up so I can ask your opinion. Yes, all y’all (and that is proper grammar here in Texas, in case you are wondering). My goal is to publish Torn Between the Two on August 1, assuming my beta readers, editor, cover artist, and revision schedule can work within my timeline this summer.

One of the joys of the modern age is self-publishing. I’ve studied it, attended workshops, and have my action items clearly listed. So much to know, and I’m still learning. My publication date can be a bit fluid since I intend to self-publish. One of the reasons I’m choosing to go this route is because in this century all publishers expect you to do the lion’s share of your own marketing. I figure if I’m doing the work of writing and selling my novel, I should get 100% creative control and a much bigger share of the royalties. You with me so far?

Another joy of the modern age is purchasing books online through Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kindle, Google Play, etc., etc. These outlets also have lovely mathematical formulas (aka, algorithms) that are used to determine sales, recommendations, popularity, and best-selling status. There are also programs and apps that allow authors and publishers to … ummm….focus? … massage?…accentuate? … those numbers. My gut says it’s an attempt to game the system, and that bugs me. But maybe I just don’t fully understand the process.

One of the programs that was mentioned last night organizes all my willing family, friends, followers, into email groups, requests access to their social media, and then would promote my book among their friends on the day of release to buck up those sales during the all-important best-selling tabulation period. Now I’m not saying my first novel is going to be a best-seller—although I wouldn’t turn that miracle away, but in order to get the online sales services to recommend my book to buyers who might be interested in this genre, I would need a certain level of sales and good reviews. Additionally, it helps if some of those super-fans would read an early release and post glowing reviews.

Having been a marketing major in a previous life, I understand how the algorithms work, why, and that that part is legit. I also understand there is nothing wrong with sharing a product that I think others might find interesting, entertaining, or useful. But asking for a commitment before the product is even available for sale? Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about that. Asking people to help market my book in this way, sight unseen, feels a lot like a chain letter or multilevel marketing. When I run out of friends, will I run out of sales? This seems to be based on popularity more than talent, and I really want to be judged on my talent. Do you see my quandary?

The cover art is still in development, but below is the working premise and cover that I’ve been using as motivation. Something vaguely similar, and much more professional, would be available to generate sales.tbtt-cover

The basic premise: 

Torn Between the Two is a medical thriller in which Dee Russell, a disabled ex-FBI agent, goes undercover in a hospital to help catch an angel-of-mercy targeting stroke survivors while figuring out how to make peace with her past and present.

So following are my questions which I’m hoping you will take a minute to consider and then give me some thoughts. Keep in mind that my relationships with all y’all are incredibly more important than book sales in my world (threw that last “all y’all” in there in case you forgot I’m writing from Texas).

  1. Would you be offended, or feel taken advantage of, if I asked you to commit, prior to release, to purchase my book on a specific day?
  2. Would you feel comfortable/uncomfortable recommending a new author to your friends based simply on our relationship, prior to reading the actual book?
  3. Did you know this is how best-selling status is often achieved? I didn’t until I started researching publishing, and I’m not sure what I think about it.
  4. Am I simply over-thinking this process and stressing too much about it?
  5. Do you have any suggestions for marketing a new novel by a first-time author that you’ve seen prove successful recently?

At the moment, I’m thinking I will probably create a volunteer e-mail list for those who understand the system and are willing to play along with me. However, I’m still thinking, and would very much value some additional feedback as I make up my mind. You may comment below, or on my Facebook page, or send me a private message, or email.

As always, best wishes, and happy writing and reading!

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