I set this site up over the holidays for two reasons. Firstly, I had really been wanting an outlet where I might expand on the worldbuilding background, process, and results of my writing outside of the story context. I don’t know if people are interested in this, as I’m unlikely to have any particularly exciting or novel takes on Fantasy worlds, but as with the rest of my book, it’s something I want to do, so why not?! Secondly, the massive, overwhelming majority of advice for authors is to set up an author website.
Why is that? Well, the short answer is if you want to self-publish (or even, to some extent, traditionally publish with smaller publishers) marketing books is falling more heavily on authors than perhaps it used to. While I was deliberating whether or not to set up this blog/site, I came across a post on The Write Practice which gives a very clear argument as to why it’s important.
The best (digital) way to get people to buy things is by email.
There is a (probably rather outdated) report referenced in that article which gives hard data to support the statement above. I have taken the liberty of saving you some scrolling and copied the relevant table (from page 17) below. It appears, much to my own surprise, that people across all age groups are far more likely to buy something advertised by email than they are by social media. While we do see that younger audiences are more receptive to social media marketing (which is perhaps expected), there is no age demographic where social media influences product purchases more than by email. The takeaway seems very clear; if you want to sell books, you need an email list, if you want an email list you need a website!
Books on Twitter
What surprised me most, and perhaps this has changed dramatically since 2012 (I can’t find an updated version of the same report), is that Twitter is almost at the bottom of the list. I recently threw my own Twitter account into the world of Authors on Twitter™, and I have seen almost everyone with books to sell, trying to sell them through #writerslift threads and the like.
Maybe this is making things harder than they need to be, or maybe the data is outdated, I couldn’t possibly say. But I think there is an insight I can offer on Twitter marketing–as someone who was successfully marketed at. I bought a book because of something I saw on Twitter! Let me tell you how, step-by-step, what sold me (in 280 characters or less).
- They had a great book cover–top notch art, professionally designed. Bold colours, relatively simple, but strongly eye-catching. I could imagine how good the real deal would look in my hands and on my shelf. Critically, that first impression was enough to stop me scrolling straight past
- (As an aside to the above, a lot of what I did scroll past were “generic” romance/erotica-style covers. By that I mean cropped-off photos of buff body models with some flowery, cursive typeface. Professionally-designed or not, it’s not my thing so I would never spare any book with a cover like that a second glance, whether it’s my genre-of-choice or not. This is, of course, entirely my personal prejudice. Please don’t be offended if that is your thing!)
- The tweet started with a one-sentence premise for the story; it was intriguing and right up my alley
- Following the synopsis, there were a few snippets from reviews for the book. It built a bit of confidence in the author’s quality of writing
- Next I clicked through the link to Amazon. What I found was a handful of customer reviews which were overwhelmingly very good, though not afraid to point out some of the issues that did exist with the book (both print and ebook versions). This convinced me that some other humans had read it, and enjoyed it (despite any flaws)!
- Lastly, there were sample chapters available for free via Kindle (which I read the first of, then hit “buy” on the sexy paperback!)
If I’m honest, these kinds of things would make me buy a book wherever it was advertised. Twitter’s limitations are what you can put into a single Tweet, but it’s advantages are the ability to build a large following of eyes you can put on your book once you have it ready to sell (and I’ll be honest, I’m a long way from that point).
While I haven’t yet had an opportunity (with a new-born baby an’ all) to read this book, I definitely do not regret the purchase–it’s gorgeous! My hat goes off to S.Z. Attwell for a very successful sell.
If anyone is here wondering how to sell their book on Twitter, and looking for advice (from me as a consumer, not a successful solo marketer), I would say this; of the things listed above, I think the most valuable (in my eyes), beyond the eye-grabbing cover art, are the positive reader reviews. Get ’em, and don’t be afraid to flaunt ’em!
I’m looking forward to reading Aestus (and the second book!) and ogling that beautiful cover some more…!