The top five things I learned about marketing this year

Confession time: I didn’t actually do a lot of marketing this year. Not, like, real focused, aggressive advertising. What I did do was a lot of soft marketing–telling people that my books exist, mostly. I couldn’t afford to run ads in the big book newsletters, but I did try the Kobo advertising thing they have. Anyway, here’s some of the things I learned.

5. Kobo’s advertising is very interesting. Mostly because the international market doesn’t read the same things the American market reads. The American market devours weird things like urban fantasy and science fiction. The international market prefers contemporary romance or political thrillers. That’s what I see dominate their charts month after month. But I did manage to sell a few YA paranormal romance books with their ads, and their ads are pretty cheap (5 bucks for the basic one, as of this writing).

4. People like pretty pictures. If they’re pretty pictures that pertain to your books, so much the better. I observed this phenomenon with the launch of the Mortal Engines trailer. If you read the book description, it sounds like nonsense. “London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed.”

But you show them the artwork …

Mortal-Engines
Mortal Engines concept art

All of a sudden, we have a visual for a really amazing setting.

3. Fire and Ice Cream was picked for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club last year, and it got a ton of reviews. Not all of them favorable, either, ouch! But hey, readers say they’re suspicious if a book has only good reviews. Long story short: book clubs are awesome. But go into it with thick skin, because if your book has a flaw, it’s going to be chewed over with delight by the readers.

2. Keep writing books. Every time I launch a book, people go, “Oh yeah, she writes books, doesn’t she?” And I sell a few of everything. And only go Amazon exclusive if you’re in one of the weird niche genres that sells a lot on Kindle Unlimited. If you’re any of the big general genres, like mystery, go wide on all the retailers. You never know where your readers are lurking, and Kobo’s reader is waterproof, so maybe they’re in the bath!

1. Be enthusiastic. If you’re writing and talking about what you’re writing and being excited, it gets people interested. I discovered this to my chagrin while working on a fanfic. When I described it as “Beauty and the Beast with Serenity’s ending”, I had all kinds of people sitting up and taking notice. Too bad it was only a fanfic–the plot really was that good. So my next book, I’m going to come up with all kinds of little hooks and pitches for it. And I’m going to talk about it a lot.

I followed a blogger one time who had a concept that totally fascinated me. I stalked her for two years until her book launched so I could read it. And really, isn’t this cover just intriguing?

lindormkingdom_smaller1

By the way, see what I mean about really good artwork selling the story?

So those are the five things I learned about marketing this year. It doesn’t have to be huge glamorous things like book signings and pestering bookstores to carry your book. It can be simple little things like saying, “Hey guys, I have a book out. Think it’s something you might like to read?”

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