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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Magic Formula for a Best Seller.

This past Saturday I attended an excellent workshop by Dennis J. Smith on social media. There are new ways to self promote on the Internet every day, it seems. And since I've jumped into the eBook world with my entire cyber body and soul, with quite a bit of success, I've been following other writers' journeys and thinking about the whole "How to sell? What should I be doing to become a best seller? Do I HAVE to do every social network? Do I need to go to every conference? Do I--" You know the drill.Then there's the whole "this person did nothing and sold millions" and "this person did everything and sold tons" and then "I'm driving myself crazy trying to do everything and selling nothing."

The problem is that there is no magic formula for selling. There are far too many variables to say with certainty "if you do so and so you'll sell X amount." Now granted, my mom was right and "If you don't tell people, they won't know." And Dennis is correct that the other writers are doing social media, you bet. So no promotion is a mistake. Social media is a wonderful tool. But there's no way to tell if being on Google+ will sell more books or less than being on Facebook. Or if being on both will sell more of your title.

So how to have a best seller? Here's the secret, here's the magic formula: The writing always comes first. Let me repeat that. The writing is first, always. ALWAYS. The more you write, the better writer you become. The more you write, the more and better product you have to sell. The more you sell, the more you can cross promote. Etc. This doesn't guarantee a best seller. But the wonderful magic is: you'll be writing. You'll be doing what you love first. And wouldn't that be best?

How do you, dear reader, balance the need to promote with the need to write? Are you sometimes completely unbalanced like me? Any suggestions for what might be most effective for promotion? Or do you run screaming at any hint of that word?

7 comments:

Lucinda said...

Conda,
What great advice. I've listened to all the advice and I can't seem to get anywhere. I always felt my writing was more important than my social media. No one seems to pay attention as I'm screaming: "here I am". My goal is to get my next book out there and let the writing world know I exist. Nthanks for the post.
Lucinda moebius

Lucinda said...

Conda,
What great advice. I've listened to all the advice and I can't seem to get anywhere. I always felt my writing was more important than my social media. No one seems to pay attention as I'm screaming: "here I am". My goal is to get my next book out there and let the writing world know I exist. Nthanks for the post.
Lucinda moebius

Jim Murdoch said...

Most of the time I think I’m very unbalanced, Conda. Since I got involved online my time has been dominated by promotion—not so much the hard sell (they tell you that just puts people off) but gentle stuff like this, just keeping up your profile, letting people know you’re still there and dropping in wee reminders about your latest book (Milligan and Murphy, available from F V Books for £5.99 incl p&p) as unobtrusively as possible. I have no idea how much good any of it does really. I do guest blogs, interviews and try and get people to review my books but most of the sites I manage to get a toehold on feel as if they are being read by twenty or thirty people and we all know about the ratios: the hits on my blog are at an all-time high (almost 8000 hits a month) and yet 85% of those barely stay long enough to read the first forty words so what chance to any of the books I review have? I love doing the reviews—never imagined in my puff publishers would to happy to send me a steady stream of free books—but I do honestly wonder how successful they are in terms of sales. I asked Elisabetta Minerva from Alma Books that in passing—not that I wanted to discourage her from sending me books but I was genuinely curious if she had any stats to show that online reviewing affected her sales in any positive way—and she really didn’t know; she just thought it was the way to go and hoped so. And she does publish bestsellers.

As far as balancing the need to write and all the other crap that comes along I really don’t have an answer but I’m seriously considering cutting down my promotion efforts because the return on the investment of my time is not worth it and it’s putting me off my writing. I’m not a machine who can switch my writing on and off. I can do that with the non-fiction, treat it like a job of work, but not the fiction. I wrote a dozen poems last year and that was it. I must have written some 700,000 other words and probably that’s a conservative estimate once you add in comments like this of which I do a couple every day at least. I have a blog coming up about boredom and the importance of it from a creative standpoint. The simple fact is that just as our kids are never ‘starving’ despite their assertions that they are we are never bored. There is always something going on keeping us occupied and our minds are never a free as they really ought to be to drive us to do our best creative work. This worries me. But the simple fact is that when I wrote and put my books in the proverbial drawer I was a happier man and more satisfied with my literary output. Now I’m published, have the titchiest, tiniest fan base, but don’t feel any more like a real writer than when I was shoving the blasted things in my desk drawer. Possibly less because I’m using up my stockpile of books, stories and poems and it’s only a matter of time before I run out and get found out. At least that’s how it feels.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Wow. Good post, Conda. You're right, we gotta write. But what Jim says is so true. It begs the question, are you a writer if your words are not read, or read widely?
Ah, who knows. I find it SO hard to do it all and am fearful of losing the joy I have when I write.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Lucinda, yes, you can scream and scream and no one will listen--but the more you have out there the more they will see.

Carol Kilgore said...

'Unbalanced'! I like that. Most days I think that describes me - LOL. We must write, however, or we have nothing to sell.

Nezzy said...

Great write sweetie. I think I'm kinda unbalanced on my best days. Heeehehehe!!!

God bless ya sweetie and have a magnificent day!!! :o)