Tag Archives: learn craft

Does Anybody Really Know What Marketing Works?

I spent my morning writing about marketing for a thing I am obligated to do because I promised. I don’t know how many times I’ve written about marketing. Feels like a lot.

Feels like I’m done.

Chicago is in my head.

Does anybody really know what time it is
(I don’t)
Does anybody really care
If so I can’t imagine why
(about time)
We’ve all got time enough to cry
Oh no, no
And I was walking down the street one day
Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock,
oh, so I just don’t know,
I just don’t know
And I said, yes I said
Background Vocal:
People runnin’ everywhere
Don’t know the way to go
Don’t know where I am
Can’t see past the next step
Don’t have to think past the last mile
Have no time to look around
Just run around, run around and think why

For one thing, I’m totally insecure about this right now. Like, more than usual. About the fact that my second book was just shy of cracking the Kindle top 1000 but didn’t quite make it. And now it’s hovering around 3000. And my first book, even though it sat in the 400-500s for a long spell, even though it recently peeked back into the 2000s, is once again in freefall and hovering around 10,000. And looking at it now you really can’t tell what an awesome run it had once upon a time.

And I’m left going: I’ve never even made the Kindle top 100, why are you even asking me? Half the time I feel like a fraud. At least half the time. I am just starting to get the point where I feel like it’s okay to use the term “bestseller” in my marketing, even though I didn’t make that overall top 100 list. But I see other respectable people making that claim, so… maybe I’ve been unreasonably hard on myself. (What? Me? Hard on myself? Shut the front door.) Kait and I agree that I have no reasonable perception of reality. She’s mainly talking about the sales stuff, but I see this as a general rule of thumb.

I’m being asked for marketing advice when I haven’t even taken advantage of a term like bestseller.

But I don’t know that most people really care where the advice is coming from. Just like everyone gives out writing advice before they’re published, everyone passes around marketing advice too. And I’m not ragging on that. I’m just saying that this whole thing I have where I’m so uptight about whether or not I even have credibility to answer these requests is probably unfounded because it seems like people don’t really care anymore where their information is coming from.

And then I start to think that if they don’t care, why am I bothering? Why do I feel obligated to step up to these requests when no one really cares if these techniques actually yield results? Just, if  someone has some free time, go write a Wikipedia article on it and we’ll all go cite that as Truth and be happy.

After all, the real truth of it is:

Nobody knows.

There. I said it. When someone invites you to come talk about marketing, that’s about the last thing they want you to say, right? But that’s how it feels right now. No one knows what works because what worked this time last year or even last month doesn’t work now. What worked for Author A doesn’t work for Author B.

The truth part B:

Write a good book.

Do you know how hard it is for me to say that? Because to say that is to suggest that I did and someone else didn’t. Which is to invite the Universe to come and smite me. But this obsession with marketing just seems to be out of control and I gotta say something.

Five years ago, all the blogs were talking about writing. Now how many of them are devoted to building a platform? And I get how building a platform before the book would be really helpful. I do. But if my fellow writers are spending the kind of time learning about that and doing it that I have been in the last year, I have no idea how they’re getting the time to put into learning to write a novel. Which explains how many very unfortunate books I come across.

I know that wishing isn’t particularly useful, but I wish we could go back to the time when we could just learn to craft novels. I’m tired of talking about marketing to people who aren’t ready to market stuff yet and will do it anyway, and don’t care if the advice-giver has any credibility, or if the information has any validity. Which it kind of doesn’t because nobody knows.

/frustranxiety-powered rant


Filed under writing