Musing About Marketing

As a self-published author, the responsibility for marketing my books is entirely mine. Even years ago when I worked with publishers, much of the marketing responsibility fell on me; small publishers don’t have the budget to put a ton of marketing muscle behind their authors, especially the authors whose sales aren’t in the higher levels. Which is me.

Marketing is something I’ve always struggled with, mainly because I don’t completely understand what I’m supposed to do. “Write blogs.” Okay, but then don’t I have to get people to read the blogs? How do I do that? Likewise with “Have a newsletter.” I do have one, but that’s also something I have to market because otherwise people won’t subscribe to it. Having to market a marketing tool I’m supposed to use to market my books doesn’t make sense to me. (I do have a newsletter. If you go to the page on this site that’s titled “Free Short Story,” you can sign up to get the Real Werewolves short story “Kale and Karaoke,” and thereby be added to my newsletter mailing list.)

When I ask people what to do to market, I often get vague answers like “You know, let people know you have books.” Yes, I know that’s what I need to do… but HOW? “Post on Facebook.” Which is like whispering into a hurricane; there are literally millions of people posting about their books on Facebook.

“Connect with people.” Okay… how does one do that? This is the most frequent piece of marketing advice I receive, and it, like the concept of marketing a marketing tool, makes no sense to me. I am neurodivergent. I grew up being severely bullied and not understanding how to “human,” so to speak, and as an adult who lived through fourteen years of an abusive marriage, I never had much opportunity to develop any healthy ways of connecting to people. I didn’t learn the social intricacies most people take for granted. I’ve been told that I don’t *appear* awkward in social situations, but I sure as hell feel awkward…and anxious that the figurative mask I’ve put in place will slip and people will see how awkward I really am. Not to mention that even as an adult, even after leaving that abusive marriage in 2006, I’ve continually encountered people in work and social setting who find me an easy target for bullying. (Children are not the only ones who bully; some grown-ass adults never got over the high-school mean kid mentality.) So what little bit I understand of what “connect with people” means is something I’m disinclined to do, because it’s complicated and not something I’m even sure how to do, and there’s always the risk of more bullying. Not in favor of that.

So I bungle along trying to market my books doing the same things I generally do, because those are the things I know how to do. I join Facebook groups and sometimes interact, but I don’t form out-of-group connections with anyone. I mention my books on my profile and Facebook page, as well as (very occasionally, when I feel comfortable–which is rare) on my profile on another social networking site.  I blog and send out my newsletter, and when budget allows, I book blog tours for my new releases.

I know other authors who seem very at ease with marketing, and judging from what I’ve seen about their sales, they do it quite well. I watch and try to learn from them, but at the end of the day, I’m me and have to do what I’m able to do. Which is not bringing my books the attention I would like for them. But here we are.

What marketing advice have you heard? If you’re an author, or someone who has a business or product, how do you market?