book promotion, book sales, Google Ads, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Welcome

When Is A Book Not A Hershey’s Bar?

Always, of course. So, why do we market them like Hershey’s bars? Here’s two thoughts on that.

1. Most books, like Hershey’s bars, are not advertised. When did you last see an ad for Hershey’s bars? Hershey does not need to advertise them because they are everywhere candy bars are sold. Like J.K. Rowling’s books are in all the book stores. Yes, her publisher will advertise her new book, but that’s just sensibly putting the cart after the horse. They want fans to know she has a new book.

2. When books are marketed, they are marketed like Hershey’s bars, as if they too, were a commodity and people should buy a package of the same thing and if they like it, come back for more of the same book. Books are not commodities. Each one is unique. So, there are no repeat sales of the same book to the same consumer.

What to do? Consider yourself – yes, you, the author – as the commodity. One thing of which we can be certain is that when a reader is looking for something to read, they usually do not envision a cover or make up a title to look for. They will, however, consider a novel from J.K. Rowling if they have enjoyed reading her.

“Sell yourself first.” That’s what any professional sales manager teaches. Don’t expect a stranger to trust what you sell if they do not trust you. How do you get readers to know you well enough to try your book? One writer here that understands this is Perry Palin. In many ways, he sells books to people who have first come to know him. Another may be Mimi Speike. She plans to initially stir up her market with Guerrilla marketing techniques which may make her infamous.

How do you get yourself known as a writer? Use the Comments section to let us know. We, obviously, need all the ideas that we can get!

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7 thoughts on “When Is A Book Not A Hershey’s Bar?

  1. Thanks for the blog – couldn’t agree more. I’ve been a marketer much longer than a fiction writer and know for a fact it takes more than a flashy cover to generate interest. These days it’s all about relationships and the choices for relationships is much broader than tinder. For me, it’s facebook and instagram but I know many writers on twitter. Ultimately the choice of platform doesn’t matter as much as the choice of message. Be honest, candid and true with your audience, then you might just get a second date.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. atthysgage says:

    I like the way you’re thinking, GD. But here’s the thing: I had a blog. Still do, actually, but I’ve let it go dormant. But before I did, I used to keep it pretty well stocked with content and I responded to the rare comment, reached out to readers. Over the course of time, I had over 1500 people join. I’d be surprised if any of those people ever bought a book or checked out my Amazon or Facebook pages. A few might have, sure, but my sales have only ever spiked — meaning more than one or two a month — when I’ve taken out ads with book promotion sites (and then, only when the book was free.) I did specific mailings to the people who signed up at my blog, offering my books for 99 cents, offering them for free even, and saw exactly zero response. Fifteen hundred people were interested enough in my blog posts to say “Yeah, sign me up,” but not one wanted the books, even free.

    I’m sure I did many things wrong by the standards of promotional experts. But zero out of fifteen hundred? Can I be THAT wrong?

    Anyway, I agree entirely with what you are saying. In principle, it makes all the sense in the world. But short of touring bookstores in my beat up old Honda Pilot, I don’t see many options. Actual sales are as rare as white whales, and just as unpredictable. Hunting them, for me, feels like a fool’s errand.

    Pardon the curmudgeon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      I agree. I initially tried Google Ads. My ad appeared 3,898,083 times. It was clicked on 68,481 times.
      (Details at: https://writercoop.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/jousting-windmills/ )
      I sold 15 books, most of which were bought by friends and acquaintances.

      That last bit, “…most of which were bought by friends and acquaintances.” should have clued me in back when I wrote that blog, in 2016. But I also failed to understand that books are not a commodity and that conventional marketing is geared to selling commodities.

      SHELCALOPA has the right idea, and, I think Perry Palin does too. We have to get people interested in us before they look at our writing. Imagine if Hemingway had never reported war for newspapers. But he did, people learned of him through his dispatches and bought his books. I think that is the sequence, but I haven’t booked a flight to Yemen. Watch for my YouTube video driving blindfolded in rush our traffic. (I’m just waiting for a self-driving car.)

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    GD calls me out as one who understands how to “get readers to know you well enough to try your book.” I don’t sell a lot of books, and I know that’s all on me, but most of those I do sell go to people who have heard me speak or read somewhere, or who have read an article I’ve written for a journal or newsletter, or for a website focused on something other than writing.

    Atthys’ comments are disheartening, but they support my opinion, that a personal touch is important and it’s hard to really be personal over the web.

    Who informs my opinion? I’ll mention five who I know personally:

    Fred, who this month sold 50 copies of one of his books to a local organization that will distribute them as holiday gifts. Fred made his connections by selling his books from a card table at community festivals.

    Kent, the best selling mystery author who has a long list of successful books on Amazon and in bookstores. He still goes out to meet people and read in small town libraries.

    Michael, who started by self-publishing, was eventually picked up by a major publishing house, and even then spent a lot of time touring the country with a trunk full of books. He told of being in a bookstore 1000 miles from home with only two people at his reading, and those two got up and left when they realized that they were not at the cookie baking presentation. He persevered. He makes small town and large city appearances, and makes his living as a writer.

    Charlie, who wrote a delightful children’s book about a dog on an apple farm, and sells it in his own apple farm store, at farmers’ markets, and to the elementary schools that buy his apples for the school lunch program.

    Tom, who wrote eight novels in a series, couldn’t find a publisher, paid a ton of money to a vanity press to put out the first book, marketed the book only on the web, and sold a total of two copies.

    There may be other ways to sell our books, other than through personal contacts, but I don’t know of them. I wish I did. What will it take for one of us, Mimi maybe, to get an appearance on Late Night With Stephen Colbert?

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Perry Palin says:

    What am I doing right now to make personal connections in writing?

    I chatted up my best selling mystery writer in the church basement. He said he would send me a copy of the anthology containing his story with me as the main character (you don’t have to ask). I will buy him a copy of The Rabbit Hole, and I hope he reads it.

    I’ve registered for a local community ed night class in creative writing. The instructor has connections with people regionally in writing, editing, and publishing.

    This week I will attend a jeans and sweater soiree of a local environmental organization. I’ve donated some things, including copies of my books, for the silent auction. I’ve learned that three professional writers/artists will attend, people I’ve met and respect, and I will visit with each of them at least briefly.

    I’m looking for additional editing opportunities for my free lance developmental editor, who is a good guy, does good work, knows people in the business, and will know more.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    Whoa! 3,898,083 times! Whoa! I’m wondering, when they clicked on that ad, what exactly did they see? Fill us in.

    We have three major problems.

    1. Getting noticed. I’m hoping a crazy old lady handing out leaflets and bumper stickers will make people say – She’s a nutcake! Maybe her book is nuts too.

    2. Having a product that fulfills whatever expectation we promote.

    3. Everyone has more books on their to-read list than can be accommodated. Through some combination of the above, we need to send our book to the top, or near the top, of their list. I have so many works that I truly want to read, and so little time/energy for it. Okay, few are trying to finish an eight-novella opus, but they have other impediments. Kids, a big job, etc.

    Perry, you’ve given me a goal. A nut in Elizabethan garb, wearing a signboard promo, handing out, I don’t know, something.

    Hey, you know those backdrops at carnivals, you stick your head through a hole, you’re the handsome young man on the flying trapeze? Something like that, an Elizabethan cat image, push your cat’s puss through the head-hole, take a picture to frame. That would get my attention. If I march outside Colbert’s studio, he’s in NYC, right? Maybe I’ll be invited in.

    Liked by 5 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      “A nut in Elizabethan garb, wearing a signboard promo, handing out, I don’t know, something.” 🙂 Hand out mice to kids when the parents aren’t looking. Tell ’em, “That rat can talk.”

      What people saw when my Google ad appeared on a web page was a small rectangular ad, like we avert our eyes from all the time these days. My guess is many clicked on it accidentally -you know, when the page jumps to accommodate another ad & all you’re trying to do is read the damn page.

      Liked by 2 people

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