I've read from more than one successful author that the best marketing tactic for promoting a book is to publish another book. In keeping with that spirit, I had striven to become a prolific author, publishing my fourth novel only weeks before posting this article. But when my sales numbers continued to flat-line, I succumbed to the temptation to throw money at the problem.
The latter part of 2016 brought an unexpected opportunity into my inbox. An editor for a well-established book-related magazine approached me with a pitch to run an advertisement in their upcoming issue. I won't mention the magazine because, frankly, I paid them for running an ad, not the other way around.
Yes, I know I spoiled the mystery with that last sentence. I did in fact run a one-eight page ad in the January issue, but not without considerable hesitation. My initial gut reaction to the magazine in question told me the reader base was not my target audience. I expressed my concern to the editor and was put at ease with the assurance that the magazine targeted a broad range of genres.
Before long, I had dreams of a sales graph shooting straight up like Mt. Everest once the magazine rolled off the presses. Budget be damned, I went for it. Another financial contribution from my personal funds covered the deficit on the balance sheet. I was convinced, the money would return ten-fold.
Cue the violins.
If you've followed my previous articles, it should come as no great shock when I say the investment was yet another deep dive into the red. Another big loss!
Someday, I may post an article about monitoring web traffic, but for now, I'll just say I closely watch the visits to my author web site. Not only did I receive no bump in sales from the magazine ad, I also received no increase in site traffic. That could have meant a lot of things ranging from poor ad placement to ineffective wording. Heck, I could even have blamed my cover design, maybe the title itself. Even my gut chimed in on the subject, offering an I told you so response, "It wasn't your target audience."
I could have kept myself up at night analyzing all the reasons my ad didn't perform, and given the overall failure of the campaign, the problem likely fell on a combination of several factors. Regardless, I brought in 2017 on a dismal note.
Did I despair? No!
There was an audience out there for my stories. I was (and am) convinced. Connecting my future fan-base to my work was simply something that couldn't be forced. It would happen through the slow and steady climb up Mt. Everest, one reader at a time.
2017 brought a new awakening, a renewed focus on writing quality novels. Did that mean I would rest in my writing chair and forego all attempts at marketing and traffic monitoring? Absolutely not! But a calming peace came with knowing I didn't have to chase some elusive magic bullet for success.
So, do as they say, and say as they do. "Just keep writing."