Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Like a Caucus: Struggles with Self-Publish Marketing

by Stella Atrium

When the Iowa caucuses roll around every four years, voters are subjected to complaints about retail politics, how candidates must visit every county and shake hands in living rooms, backyards, and coffee shops while they endure litmus tests about narrative, purity and electability.  And this is BEFORE voters review the candidates platform on his website or position statement on various issues.

I know how the candidates feel.

I found some easy comparisons with marketing for the self-publisher. Retail marketing, we'll call it. The various author websites where authors gather to promote indie books, for example, are similar to the early debates where candidates are allowed to hold up a hand indicating positions on topic as defined by the liberal press. The only visitors to these sites are other authors checking their own progress, just like the only viewers of the early debates are other commentators who have the next debate on a different network.debate

Some candidates have been working at reaching presidential campaign level for 10 years, (after serving in house or senate or governorships or charity groundwork), and invested a fortune of family money and donor money. And that's before the opening bell. Writers also have invested "blood and treasure" in the book or series (along with university work, screenplays, ghostwriting, jingle writing) long before joining Twitter.

What's another comparisons? Soliciting reviews are like making promises for future connections so the candidate can gain a public endorsement, and sometimes takes as many visits to the endorser's home for dinner.

buttonThe writer's giveaway is like campaign headquarters where hats and pins and banners are stacked in a corner waiting for the volunteers to embrace the novel and spread word-of-mouth good will.

The first blog tour where the writer engages a real time chat or printed interview with the site's manager are similar to the grip-and-grin first meeting with potential supporters and fundraisers.

Expanding beyond bloggers in one's genre to begin selling to your own university or book club or alma mater is like moving from Iowa to New Hampshire for the second round of primaries. Can the candidate build a ground game to perform in a different arena?

Developing a YouTube video to start a second buzz once the book is released is like those TV commercials that tout the candidate's family and long record of service, and just as expensive.

And the results are sometimes just as screwy. 

The weighted bestseller list that floats the list-maker's favorite book type to the top is like Ron Paul who is winning in early states, but cannot gain the respect of the liberal media who claim he cannot win, so why interview him?PerryPaul

A book with a few enthusiastic readers on GoodReads gains a bump in ratings and to-read lists until other readers discover the grammar and diction are so poor as to work against the book's good ideas.

It's possible to push this analogy too far...  But in my genre Neil Gaiman is the Mitt Romney (we like him, kinda) and Steven King is the Newt Gingrich (full of big ideas the unravel in the plotline).

Okay, I'll stop now.  What comparisons did I neglect that you can see?

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