I'm always astounded that an author has time to write books -- what with all time needed to market their earlier works. So I asked local author Eric D. Goodman for a guest post on the topic, and he kindly agreed. Here's Eric, discussing the marketing efforts surrounding his latest book, "Tracks":
To e- or not to e-. There’s really no question. These days, new books can’t survive without going electronic.
This isn’t another argument in the “print versus eBook” debate that is sure to be with us for years to come as more and more people leave paper on the shelf and opt for the Kindle and Nook. Even printed books from old-style independent presses depend on e-marketing to get noticed.
Take my own novel in stories, Tracks, which is being released both in print and electronically on June 30 from Atticus Books. As much as I’d prefer to be working on another novel right now, I’m finding myself consumed by the digital machine. I do get marketing support from Atticus—they have a publicist on staff—but as most authors will tell you, whether you’re with a huge house or a small indie press, an author has to do a lot of the promoting.
That’s easier than ever in today’s electronic universe. But sometimes making things easier makes them harder.
There was a time (or so I’m told) when the key to selling books was getting good reviews in important periodicals. That’s still true, but when only a dozen or so books are chosen for review out of truckloads of new releases, getting a book reviewed is sort of like winning the literary lotto. So writers and publishers depend on the Internet.
Tracks has a website. A Facebook page. Even the fictional conductor has a Facebook page! Then there’s Twitter. The Tracks Blog. And guest blogging on other blogs. Radio podcasts. YouTube Video. And it may be that these days half a dozen good reviews on Amazon’s website could sell as many books as a printed review in the paper.
I’m doing readings and signings the old-fashioned way. But I’m told to expect the “blog tour” to be more successful than any events in the physical world.
The way to sell books these days is to go viral. The problem is, with everyone out there tweeting and posting, how do you get noticed? When a hundred thousand trees fall at once and as many people are commenting on them, does your one little tree make a sound?
One thing my publisher is trying is a contest that encourages readers to post or tweet about Tracks.
Each time a reader shares the Tracks website, they’re entered to win a free copy of the book. Can a contest help a book go viral when there’s so much online content out there that’s already free? Like being reviewed by a major publication, it’s probably akin to winning the literary lotto.
Yes, in the days of typewriters and whistle-stop book tours it may have been more difficult to engage the world than it is in the computer age. But I can’t help but think that this is a case where doing things the hard way may have been easier.
Enter to win your free copy of Tracks. But I still hope to see you at a bookstore.