When I first began reading about publishing and marketing, I felt overwhelmed with the sheer abundance of information. Most of it is helpful—some of it extremely helpful—but there were times when I felt like I was disappearing under the weight of searching for some magic answer to all my publishing problems. For one thing, I wasn’t sure whose advice to follow. Everyone’s path to success has been different, and other authors are sharing tips from their personal experiences. Some authors find success doing blog tours, others from key advertising, others from blogging, still others from creating niche websites or interacting with readers on various forums. But what does that mean for someone like me who’s starting from scratch?
Here’s the main thing I learned: just as I had to find my own road as an author, I have to do the same with publishing. If I hear a marketing tip that sounds reasonable (and doable) I’ll try it. What do I have to lose? I liken my marketing strategy to that old saying, “I’ll try anything once.” I read as much as I can find, and I experiment, and then I see what works for me and what doesn’t. That’s what this is…a grand experiment, and each of us has to find our own recipe for success.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all marketing solution. Everyone is different. We’ve written different books that appeal to different audiences. We have different personalities and different ways we like to connect with people. The best advice I can offer at this point, if I should be offering advice, being relatively new to all this, is to read whatever you can find from other authors who have been there, done that. Weed out the helpful information from the not-as-helpful since all advice isn’t equal. How do you know what’s sound advice and what isn’t? I still like the tried-and-true method of “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” There’s a lot of good, free advice out there. There’s also some bad, free advice. I’m not a fan of marketing advice that says, “Do it my way or your book will die a slow, violent death.” What works for one author may or may not work for you. You have to experiment to find out.
Once I learned to look at marketing as a grand experiment, I relaxed and even learned to have fun with it. I didn’t need to drive myself to distraction searching for some hidden gem of publishing knowledge. I need to discover and experiment and grow. There’s always something new to learn, and there’s no time limit. That’s one of the great things about publishing now: there’s no longer a shelf life on books. We can continue to find new readers for our work as long as we’re willing to give it our time and attention. And that’s a glorious thing.