There is no overnight success, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and money. The money to me is not so material than the time and energy aspect. The fact that promoting a book takes money is obvious to me, but I had underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take.
Naively, I thought that by telling all my friends and family, colleagues and anyone I vaguely knew about the book, everyone would buy the book, leave glowing reviews, and it would somehow take care of itself and sales would just multiply exponentially with Amazon’s trending features etc. I’m not saying you can’t have a bit of luck and you publish the book that everyone has been secretly dying for, it’s read by masses of people around the globe who all rave about it and suddenly you’re on Oprah. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. And I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. I’m saying this to prepare you for the marathon ahead of you.
Your network will read and promote it, but your network is not enough, unless you already have a large robust network of readers. And creating a network takes time and effort.
Firstly; no one knows you. Why would you buy a book from someone you’ve never heard of? The cost of a book is low compared to other activities, yes. A paperback is basically the price of a glass of wine at a restaurant and an ebook can be priced as low as 0,99GBP. But when is the last time you bought a book from someone you had never heard of? That’s the first hurdle.
Secondly, and heavily linked to the first point; your book has no or very few reviews. When is the last time you bought something that had no or a very low number of reviews? How much would you pay for something that you basically can’t return because the book is not like an iPhone cover you can return if you don’t like it?
And thirdly, linked to the second point; if you buy a book, you’re committing to reading it. And that means you’re asking a reader to not only pay for your book, but also spend time reading it. And if you’ve ever had the experience of reading a bad book, you know how selective you become especially towards unknown independent authors.
These are the three main hurdles as I see it. So you can’t rely on your network to do all the work for you. You’re the one who wants to make this book a success, so you have to promote and advertize it.
And simply throwing money at it doesn’t work either. If you want to advertize and promote your book, you need to understand the options you have, and dedicate time and energy to figure out target audience, ad words and search terms, create promotional text and pictures, analyze sales and adjust your campaigns.
However, all this is not said to discourage anyone. It’s to let you know publishing a book is just the first step. It will be a long grind and this is just the beginning. But it is worth it. Every time I read a positive review it makes my day. Because even if I know it’s a good book, it’s nice to share this with other readers and be confirmed that it’s not just you that holds this belief. Especially if you’ve faced criticism before, or been told that no self-published author can ever “make it”.
All you can do is keep at it. Making a book a success is a lot harder than it looks, but also very much worth every sweat and tear.