09 April 2011

I'm No Guru, But...

I've been asked a number of times to speak about marketing. I'm happy to share what works for me, but I always tell folks I'm not a marketing expert or guru.

Then I read this blog post about marketing your books:

The key is patience.  You might sell one book in the first month. Two in the second.  But if you’re good, and you publish a lot, more and more readers will find you as they scroll through all the options.  Don’t artificially jack up your sales with overzealous promotion.  Just write the next book.

Maybe I do know that of which I speak... I've been saying this for years. Books don't spoil. That box in the back bedroom isn't going to stink up your house. (Unless you're a hoarder and there's something like a dead cat in there... but I digress.) So what if it takes a few months to sell a few hundred books? There may be a point when someone finds a copy and is moved enough to tell their friends and their friends tell their friends...and suddenly, you're "an overnight sensation." (Cue "One"...)

As the article says, "Keep writing."  Short stories are in big demand these days by e-publishers. Try your hand at a different genre. Set a goal of writing and submitting a story every so often, say every three months. The more little bites of savory tidbits you put out there, the hungrier readers will be for the multi-course feast of a novel. 

But as the blog post also advises, be a storyteller: 

Storytellers sell better than writers who craft lovely prose.  Storytellers keep you up all night.  Stylists make you admire them.  Storytellers force you to read the next chapter—or buy the entire book from the free sample.

As always, my friends, it's all about the writing. Craft a story well, something you would want to read, something you love, something that grabs your heart (or other body part) and squeezes. Those visceral reactions - tears, gasps, anger, fright - those are what great storytellers aim to elicit from their listeners. I had the honor and great privilege to hear the late Apache storyteller Michael Lacapa weave magic over a crowd of people more than once, and the rapt attention he commanded was more than impressive. You could have heard a wren fart in his pauses.

That is what every writer should aim for. Do that - spellbind your audience - and you won't have to worry about utilizing aggressive marketing ploys. Just keep writing and give people more to anticipate.

Happy wordsmithing, 



  1. Really interesting post, Jude, thanks. I've always written short stories and still do, and I'm sure that will help when the novel is out.

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  3. Thanks Rosemary. (Sorry for the previous typo.)
    Are your short stories published, and if so, where can I find them to read? :)

  4. Hi Jude - yes, many are published in UK magazines and one in a US magazine (all print). But I won 2nd in a Writers' news competition and that's also online, plus another story that was in a final is published on Writers' Village. You can find the links on my blog http://romygemmell.blogspot.com/ - under Published Work. Have also just been told I'm shortlisted in another comp to be judged soon.

  5. That's awesome, Rosemary. Contests are a great way to keep your skill sharp.