Friday, April 04, 2008
Just about every author out there who hopes to make a living as a writer does some amount of self-promotion. They create bookmarks, hire publicists, create book videos, buy ads . . . the list is endless. Some people spend most or even all of their advances on promotional activities. Some people have a set percentage of their advances set aside for promotions. (And I'm sure there are some out there who spend way more than their advances.) But most of these professionals agree that it's almost impossible to figure out what effect promotional efforts have.
When I was talking about this with my husband yesterday, he suggested that if I tried one kind of promotion with one book, and then a different kind with another book, I'd be able to gauge the relative effectiveness of the two promotions. Sounds very logical, but it just doesn't work. If book 2 does better than book 1, does that mean my promotional effort for book 2 worked better? Or does it mean book 2 was a better book? Or got more publisher support? Or had a better cover? Or came out in a month with less competition? Or . . . You get the point.
So how can an author decide which promotions are worth their time and money? Beats me. I've heard many, many authors talk about it, and no one has said anything that suggested there was a definitive answer. So I've decided to take a different approach to promotion. I don't base my efforts on a budget, or on what conventional wisdom suggests might lead to sales; I base my promotions on what I would enjoy doing most.
I created (actually, hired someone else to create, but you get my drift) book videos for Secrets in the Shadows, Shadows on the Soul, and The Devil Inside. I have no way of knowing if those videos did me any good. I know people watched them, but I don't really know how many, and I have no clue how many of those views led to sales of my books. But they were fun to do, and when I approached them as something fun--that might lead to sales, but didn't necessarily have to because they were fun--I had a much easier time letting myself spend the money.
I don't know if this decision-making mechanism will work for anyone else. Probably, there are people out there who will look at this and think I'm not approaching this in a very businesslike manner. But when I tried to approach it in a businesslike manner, trying to determine whether the potential gains were worth the money and time I spent, I drove myself crazy. So I decided to let go of that and just do what I want to do. Until someone can come up with a definitive answer for what works and what doesn't, I think the fun factor is as good a criterion as any.