Grunge Gods has been out for two months and the sales and attention, along with momentum, has dropped off considerably. I’m pretty sure every family member and friend and friend of a friend has bought the book by now, so I find myself suddenly running out of people I know to keep that Amazon sales rank afloat. And while I am crazy grateful that so many of my friends and family have bought the book, it’s time for strangers to read it. And for that to happen, I need to market.
Ugh. Marketing. I mean, I wrote a book. It’s a good book. Why can’t people just read it without me having to do anything? Especially since I don’t like to be pushy. Funny thing is when I was a librarian, I was a book pusher. If you were a teenager in my neck of the stacks, I stalked you until you left with a handful of new reads. Libraries live and die by their circ stats. Just sayin’. But it’s different when it’s my book. I don’t know if it’s my Jewish guilt or what, but it sounds braggy to tell people that I wrote a book. It’s a big accomplishment, but for some reason, I hear my grandma’s voice saying, “No one likes a show off.”
Truth is all authors must market themselves whether they like it or not. Once upon a time, publishers did the marketing for their authors. Now, publishers will only go so far to help them. My publisher does a lot, maybe even more so than some Big 5 pubs. I get a blog tour. Down the line, I might even get a Book Bub ad. But making sure my book gets into the hands of readers comes down on my shoulders.
I try to do everything right. I send out personalized review requests to bloggers. I don’t spam. I aim to be interesting on Twitter. But I’m 35 with three young kids. My days are about potty-training and tantrums and spit-up. No one, not even me, finds that interesting. Unless you enjoy irate tweets to my local politicians, you may not find me all that interesting on Twitter.
I’m grateful for the advice of my dear publishing sister, Katie. The girl has been pushing her book for two years and getting her cover and her brand in front of as many people as possible. And it has paid off for her. She is a New York Times Bestseller! Her nugget of wisdom (that I think she stole from our other publishing sis, Mary): it’s about brand awareness. Not sales. You need to get your book cover in front of a person 8-10 times before they buy it. That’s a lot of hustling for that one sale. But that’s what you do. You hustle. So far my marketing plan has consisted of a Goodreads giveaway, which got my book added to 600 shelves; a meager $50 Facebook ad; and getting some local press. I can only hustle so much with three kids.
My latest marketing strategy is a collective giveaway with other YA authors. In fact, this networking has been my favorite part of marketing my book. I really love connecting with other YA authors. It’s like being in an exclusive club, but with nice people. Nothing like high school. We’re all in this together. Since leaving my librarian position to raise my kids, I haven’t worked outside of my house and it gets lonely. There’s no professional camaraderie during a playdate. But collaborating with other authors on this giveaway has been so much fun. It validates me as an author and makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than my book. Let me tell you, I can’t wait until I can attend writers conferences and conventions. I just have to wait for my baby girl to be a little bit older. But then I am so there. Wherever there is. While I don’t love marketing, I do love that I have written something in which to market. I’m trying to sell something I made (kinda like Etsy) — something I am passionate about — something that is truly good. Hopefully readers will agree and buy my book. Until then…here’s a virtual bookmark. Now, tell your friends!