A Cynical Rant…
Okay, lol, warning, warning, rant! Because, well, I’m really not big on marketing.
I remember picking up a book of historical fiction (the author shall remain nameless) and reading the marketing blurbs on the back. By the effusive praise I found there—including a blurb from Deepak Chopra!—I was sure to love it. I bought it and choked through the first vulgar chapters before complaining bitterly to my friends. I think it was my friend Kat who coined the term ‘sword porn.’ And that about summed it up. And I wondered, what is Deepak Chopra doing recommending a book that like that?? The answer? Marketing.
Not every reader loves every book. In fact, readers are picky about what they like. (As I reader, I applaud this pickiness. It makes for lots of kinds of wonderful books!) So, did Deepak Chopra really like the sword porn book? Maybe so.
Anyway. For me it was like getting bit by a snake. I didn’t want to read even part of a book like that again. And if I couldn’t trust Deepak’s blurb, I probably couldn’t trust any blurb at all. Fool me never again.
To the blurb problem add the money problem. Most books sell less than 5000 copies. Even good books. Many are never intended to sell wider than that. Book publishers want to sell the familiar to readers, and I like the familiar, too. I want a book I know I’ll like and I’m fairly grouchy about it. I’ve been burned for $20 before and $20 is still $20! So…trouble is, how do you sell the familiar while differentiating your grain of rice from the sticky wad at the bookstore and so sell more copies.
I got this great offer in my e-mail inbox a couple of days ago. I could get my book showcased in Publishers Weekly for the bargain price of….$19,000! Wow. What an opportunity! Considering I may sell 5,000 books, and so earn about 7,000 before taxes, I absolutely want in on that deal!
Um. Not really.
But how, the industry wants to know, will I manage to sell books if I don’t get the word out? How will I manage to pry $20 from the public without resorting to smoke, mirrors and chicanery? (Yes, I’m still being cynical.)
But seriously, on the realistic side of things, if you don’t spend money on marketing, how will the reader even know you exist?
Yeah. That could be a problem. Because I’m certainly not Deepak Chopra. I’m a nobody who lives in a smallish town with cats and rhododendrons. I’m a regular person in a regular world. According to the number crunchers, without Publishers Weekly, my book is toast.
But here’s where I am NOT cynical.
I believe in the reader. I think the reader dis likes being tricked into spending good money on books they won’t like. I think the real force in the ‘marketplace’ is when one reader says to another: I’m reading this great book! And that’s how I want to be judged. Did I write a good story? Or not? What does the reader think.
So in my innocence and naivete, I’m letting the reader decide if they want to buy the book or not. And I am hoping that their neighbor will suggest that they might like it.