One of the things that have become increasingly obvious to me over the last few weeks is that it is far easier to write a book than to promote a book.
It’s true. While you are writing, you are total control. If you want a character to do a particular action, you have the ability to make him do it. There’s something rather God-like about holding the power to control the world – albeit the one you’ve made for yourself on the page.
However, once all the words have been written and everyone is living happily ever after – or not, as the case may be – you then need to find people who a.) want to read it and b.) willing to part with their hard-earned cash for the privilege. This is a significantly more difficult task because this something completely out of your control. The expression “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink” is very apt here, except you have to go a few steps back where you have to tell a bunch of horses that water is available and then round them up to point them in the right direction. Except, instead of horses, it’s kittens and instead of water, it’s a mystery liquid that no one is quite sure how it tastes.
As someone who works in a marketing and business environment, I cannot pretend that I wasn’t aware of these challenges, I was. The key difference is that, unlike many of the clients I work with, I don’t have an advertising budget stretching into the 7-figures I can use to promote the book, nor do I have a popular brand name that I can use to engender trust in potential buyers.
In fact, self-publishing a book is more like running a small start-up. It’s all about heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears, you are starting out from nothing, there is a lot of competition out there and, to be very blunt, the odds are not in your favour.
That being said, there are plenty of lessons that self-publishing authors can learn from entrepreneurial start-ups – and indeed many online courses, who advertise as helping new writers find their audience, follow approaches that are essentially copied and pasted from books aimed at helping start-ups grow and prosper.
I’ve followed a few of these approaches in my own efforts to promote The Greyfield – this blog entry is an example of one of them – but my expectations are of success are hopefully very realistic. Time will tell whether I have been able to persuade those horses/kittens or not.