Fiction authors are good at lying. Little lies and big lies that haven’t a speck of truth in them. Authors have no qualms filling their books with lies. They sugar coat their heroes with such virtues of talent, smarts and good looks that ordinary mortals step off the sidewalk to let them pass. Make way for superman and wonder woman! They describe their villains as malicious, scurvy folks that can be killed off with no more remorse than slapping a buzzing mosquito.
Imagination is what authors call it, of course. No one thinks of an author as a liar. That is much too crass and negative a word to describe such literary flights of fancy. Creative flow and artistic license is a nicer, digestible term. And people buy those lies; they love them. Who can stop with just one? They slap down money on the counter and walk off with the latest novel and can’t wait to escape into the lies and deception of the author’s latest creative endeavor.
So author lies are not all that bad in a novel or short story. But when authors hold onto lies as truth or cling to fears (false assumptions appearing real) as fact, serious problems develop. A lie, whether told to oneself or told by another, can be very damaging if the lie is believed and changes how one acts, believes and feels. The remedy for a lie is to expose it for the falsehood that it is.
Here are five lies about book marketing that many authors believe. These lies hold authors back from selling more books. When these lies are accepted as truth, they cripple every action the author wants to take to put their book on the best seller list. These lies about book marketing keep authors from making more money, getting more fans and, worse of all, stop them from writing more books.The good news is that once an author recognizes the lies that are stopping them from selling more books they can move boldly forward.
1. If my book is really good, I do not have to market it.
Many authors believe that good books should simply be discovered. Word of mouth should spread the news of the book like wildfire once a single person reads it. If my book were really, really good, I wouldn’t have to do anything at all to promote it. In fact, promoting my book demeans it and demeans me.
The truth is that 99.9 percent of every book is helped with promotion. Good book promotion builds the trust and credibility of an author and creates more fans. The more popular the book, the more popular the author becomes. The more books that sell, the more publicity dollars major book publishers put behind it.
2. Authors who promote their books have more talent, time and money than I do. They don’t have families to support, bills to pay or a full time job that takes up most of their day and saps most of their energy. Book marketing is too hard and takes too much money.
The truth is that book promotion can be as simple as telling a friend about your book or mentioning it on a Facebook post. You can spend as little as five to ten minutes a day promoting your book and get results over time. The most important thing is that you do something at least several times a week.
And yes, you should be prepared to spend some money to promote your book, but it doesn’t have to be a lot. You don’t have to put an ad in The New York Times or hire a publicity firm, yet spending a few dollars to create a nice website, sending a few postcards and buying a tank full of gas to go to a book event shouldn’t be overlooked.
3. Authors who are constantly telling others about their books are egomaniacs. They are only out to promote themselves. They are not nice, ordinary folks and they wish nothing more than to toot their own horn on every street corner.
The truth is that all kinds of people become authors — introverts and extroverts. A few are pushy, in-your-face types but many authors are more comfortable hidden away in a room with a typewriter. I rather imagine authors who are introverts far outweigh those who enjoy crowds and cameras.
4. My book is not good enough to compete with other books in the same genre. Maybe this is true. Possibly your book would be better if you did more research. A few more rewrites and editorial changes might be good. Perhaps your book would benefit from tighter narrative, shorter descriptions and more gripping sentences.
But the truth is there is a time for every fledgling to leave its nest. Baby birds don’t develop wing muscles until they start flying. Get your book out there and see what response you get from actual readers. If you publish your book digitally, you can easily do that fifteenth rewrite while it is selling.
5. If my book is over a year old, it is too late to do anything to market it. No one wants a year old book. The only way I can sell my book is to write a new one and just chalk this one up to experience.
The final truth is that people buy books because they enjoy them and want to read what the author has to share. Maybe your book is not a classic, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be enjoyed by new readers ten or even fifteen years after it is originally published. Popular authors such as John Grisham get new readers of their old books every year. William Shakespeare, by the way, is still selling well several centuries later.