where the writers are
Guerilla Marketing Realities

Okay, so I've written a lot - perhaps too much, by many readers' accounting - about the state of publishing and the need to resort to underground, guerilla tactics in order to extract a marketing platform from the book biz. Well, what have I learned from my own feet-wetting attempts to market? Here are a few tidbits from Gridley, mostly relating to my failures:


  • Unless you have a ready-made following already, having a website is almost useless. Readers, myself included, live in the moment when buying books. Despite the marketing adage that you're selling you, not the books, the  reality is two-fold:
  • Readers look for titles, not authors - unless the author is fairly well known. And...
  • If you're marketing at book fairs and the like, readers buy on impulse. They buy books as presents for family or friends, or to get a signed book to show off, or just because they've just had a wow-ing conversation with you. 
  • Having a blog has in the past been a way of gaining a readership you can market to. Now, it's a bit problematic, i.e., there are so many bloggers out there that your blog can be the equivalent of shouting into a hurricane. Blogs still draw fans and readers, but it's slow, and blog readers are fickle. You may have the most astute views on books, you may constantly have interesting things to say, but eventually your audience will drift to other sites, coming back only for the most radical, stupendous, controversial posts. And these don't happen everyday. One tip here: blog readers, if you can generalize at all, want a glimpse of the future, what the world (of books, for instance) will look like in a year. Go forth, then, soothsayer!
  • Be cautious when joining writers organizations. All such groups tend to be struggling in one way or another. The marketer's allure to these groups is that if you're deeply involved in them, you'll have their assets at your fingertips. The liability is that your time is precious, and being deeply involved will take you away from your writing. Or you'll start writing crap - because your time is precious. Balance, balance!
  • The same goes for websites and blogs. If you take them on, make sure you have time to write - and write well. 
  • If you attend book signings, fairs, or other events where books are sold, do your research - some towns, sections of towns, etc., are loaded with readers, hence buyers, and others are not. Stay away from placed devoid of readers. 
  • Marketing on sites such as Facebook seems attractive, but FB readers are like blog readers - they read posts, but they don't buy - and eventually they drift away. And FB marketing is EXPENSIVE!
  • Getting your books into Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. Fugeddaboutit! You have to go through their headquarters, and you won't get the attention the big publishers get. Your best chance is the indie book stores, and consignment is usually your only option there. So set your price so that you make a buck or two after Mom and Pop get their cut.