I have had several calls recently with authors who have been marketing on their own and are really concerned about the deafening silence they've been getting in response to the work they're doing. Are you feeling this way? If you're nodding your head you aren't alone. Marketing is tough, silence is tougher.
Last year I launched a book under a pseudonym, not at all connected with me or AME. Why did I do that? Because I wanted to test the system -- I wanted to see first-hand how tough it was to be out there. Often authors say "Well, but you're a marketing person and people know you." True that. So now with this book I'm not. I'm just another author, out there trying to get noticed and you know what I found? The silence is hell.
There isn't an easy answer, mostly because we've all heard the stats; we know there are a lot of authors trying to get noticed. We get it. We market. We do our best. Yet we still get the silent treatment. This article may not cure the silence, but I hope it helps you navigate through it without letting it discourage you.
- Don't let the silence define your success or failure: First, the silence does not mean you've failed, it just means that you aren't getting responses -- yet. Keep it in perspective and be realistic about the silence. I talked with one author who said she's been marketing for five months with no feedback. Believe it or not, that's totally normal. Things take time and in the world of book marketing, five months is not a terribly long time to market.
- Get some expert advice: Sometimes you can' t afford not to spend a few dollars getting expert advice, it could help you considerably when you're trying to determine if your path is solid or if you need to make some tweaks. If you ask someone to help you, make sure that you aren't spending money with them just to have them sell you on their services. That's not what this call is for. Yes, you may need to do different things but you shouldn't be paying for someone to sell you on their services.
- Get some education: When was the last time you learned something new or sat in on a webinar that helped to elevate your knowledge in a particular area? Sometimes I find doing that is really helpful. Not only does it get your mind out of the space of promotion for a while, but it may spark some new ideas.
- Check your numbers: Seriously, I know I say this a lot but keep an eye on your numbers. If they are growing, even slightly, you are probably on the right track. What I mean is if you are adding social media followers, people are retweeting you, or signing up for your blog or newsletter. All good signs.
- Focus on building fans, not sales: When you take the focus off of sales and put it around building fans, you'll be much better off. Fans will get you sales and you can't get sales without fans. Put the focus where it should be. Instead of asking yourself if a particular action will get you sales, ask instead of it will get you fans.
- Understanding your needs vs. their needs: You have a need to get exposure, but bloggers and media have a need for great content for their readers/listeners/viewers. If your stuff meets their needs they will contact you, but it may not be right away, so be patient.
- Stop comparing yourself to the rock stars: I had lunch with Guy Kawasaki the other day and we were discussing his book APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur). At some point during the lunch we talked about the number of followers we have in social media. Let me tell you that nothing will make you feel more like non-rock star material than talking about your social media followers with a social media rock star like Guy, Mari Smith or Amy Porterfield. Yet, we still compare ourselves to the highest profile people in our category. Yes, it's great to have goals and to aspire to be like someone you admire, but keep in mind that at some point they, too, started off with only a few people as part of their tribe and I know from having spoken to all of them that they're no different, not every pitch they send gets immediate pick up. Keep it in perspective.
- Less is more: When it comes to pitching bloggers, we always think that "If I can pitch a few hundred, I'll be golden." But the truth is that you are far better off pitching bloggers who are 100 percent your market than a whole bunch of bloggers who aren't. Also, spend the time it takes to get the blogger's first name, you can't imagine what a big difference this makes to them.
- More is more: You can't just do a firestorm of pitching and then stop, sit back, and wait for the requests to come in. That will most certainly cause you to focus on what's not happening. Or, in the case of an author I spoke with last week, call her cable company to make sure her Internet was still working. Keep going after your targets, keep the momentum going even when you feel like you're dragging and no one is listening.
- Be grateful: Whenever you get something, please, please, please say thank you. Be grateful. It makes a huge difference to bloggers and media, you have no idea. Remember you're in the business of building relationships for the long-term.
Finally, remember that the industry doesn't owe you success. No one does. I know this probably sounds like a 'duh' moment but it's odd how many times authors forget that. If the book is good, you'll find that success will find you, eventually. But success also shows up differently for everyone. We won't all be wildly bestselling authors, but you can be a success in your niche, your market and sometimes just your hometown.
We all get the silent treatment, regardless of where we are in our careers. Don't let it discourage you. Instead use this time as a way to assess, realign, or add to your skill set. I promise that if you do, someday the cone of silence will lift.