Moving the Needle

I started writing Las Vegas novels about 20 years ago. Four books later, I’ve spent thousands on marketing, PR, advertising and other types of promotions. Other authors I know have spent ten times that. Here’s what I’ve learned:

If your only metric is how many books you sell, you’re bound to be disappointed. At about $1.70 royalty a book, I have to sell a boatload just to break even. There are a zillion easier ways to make money.

Other goals are just as worthy and more attainable: building my Google resume, enhancing credibility, increasing marketability, establishing what the industry calls my “author platform.” All of these have led to other opportunities such as writing coaching, ghost writing, paid speaking gigs and workshops, and once seeing my name on the Mandalay Bay marquee – honest!

Traditional advertising has been, largely, a waste of money.

PR works better. A cover profile in the local section of our daily newspaper moved a lot of product. So did a 2-minute TV news segment on the Vegas NBC affiliate.

No one truly understands the mercurial mysteries of Amazon. Including their own employees.

Positive reviews are nice but not all reviews are created equal. Kirkus, far and away, has been my most important review asset. Foreword is next. Library Journal, on the other hand, wouldn’t give me a sniff.

Throwing money at marketing, without a plan, quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns.

There’s no substitute for the hard work of grass roots appearances.

Partner creatively with those who can help sell books by the dozens or hundreds, not ones and twos.

Don’t let marketing interfere with your writing, which is what this is all about in the first place.

Try to squeeze in the occasional nap.