There are some things going on in the book promotion world that I’m unsure of. It’s hard to promote a book or an author anyway, but it’s even harder to tell if said promotion is working. There are so many ways to go about doing promotion, from shoving it down someone’s throat, sending private messages, to constantly sharing links in Facebook groups. (PS, I am mostly talking about Facebook promotion today).
I’ve been a part of the marketing world since I published my first book back in March 2013, and honestly, I’m still not great at doing it. Marketing is hard work, and it’s not something I ever really thought about when I was writing my novel. I’ve paid for things I will never pay for again (Goodreads ad, for example), and I’ve paid for this I will probably always pay for from now on out (virtual blog tours, for example).
But I’m seeing this new trend in Facebook promotion, and I’m not so sure how I feel about it. In the past six months, particularly because I had 3 releases smashed together, I’ve tried to up the ante and do lots of promotion of Facebook. I’m not talking about paid promotion on pages; I’ve already done that and won’t again.
For the past six months, I’ve been doing a lot of promotion with blogs on Facebook. From spotlights, to giveaways, to events, to takeovers, I’ve been doing it all. I think it’s been working. My books ranked for almost two months after their release, something that has never happened before, and it was pretty consistent. I appreciated the opportunity all these blogs provided, and it was a great way to cross-pollinate followers.
But here’s my issue. Recently, say in the past two months, I’ve seen a number of blogs hosting events. In order to participate in this event as an author and to have my work be spotlighted, in order to enter a giveaway, and in order to do a takeover, I have to pay. It’s not an exuberant about of money, sometimes $1 and sometimes $25, depending on what’s being offered. But I’ve been offended.
I work hard for my books. I work hard to promote them. I work hard to find blogs who are willing to help me promote my books while I in turn promote the blogs. So now, instead of just being mutual friends, it’s become a working relationship where money is exchanged. I don’t think a spotlight is work $1, and I definitely don’t think it’s work $25. For the amount of people it hits, it’s so not worth that.
A takeover? There’s no guarantee of sales. So for me to spend AN HOUR! and money doing a takeover that doesn’t always result in sales or might be to the wrong target audience is insane. I could be doing something else, like writing, to earn guaranteed money. This is a trend I’m seeing. I’ve been invited to participate in all these events and asked to pay money. For giveaways? How is it a giveaway if I have to spend money?
A lot of authors buy their own book to give to someone else for giveaways. A lot of authors do amazon gift cards to give away. They’re already spending their own money, yet now, to participate in a giveaway, they’re being asked to spend even more money? We’re not rich—that’s why we’re doing our own promotion. It’s not like you publish a book and suddenly are raking in the dough.
I’m not quite sure what this trend is a result of. If it’s because blogs are being limited to their earnings through ads on their site or what. But I don’t like it. Whatever happened to mutual exchange of goods? The bartering system worked well, so why is it changing? A people being greedy and what more cash flow to do something?
I’m not saying this completely from an author’s perspective. I also run a blog review site. It’s a hobby, something I do in my spare time that often takes up 10 hours a week. It’s something I do for someone else, promoting author’s work to help get them to a new audience. I really just don’t get where this sudden need to pay for services that were once done in mutual exchange is coming from.
It’s a change I’m not sure I can get on board with. Marketing is already hard, and it’s about to become harder. Everywhere we as authors turn, it’s someone asking for money and we’re never quite sure what we’re going to get in exchange for it. We spend hard earned and saved money to do some sort of promotion and get absolutely no return on it often enough that we should be suspicious of blogs asking for money to promote a giveaway—something we’re not likely to get any return on. At least with takeovers and spotlights there is a chance someone might buy the book.
There’s my rant for the day.