Last week I wrote about a few emotional issues that reared their ugly head as I grew closer to opening the new website and putting up my Matt Jacob Mystery Novels for sale.
This week I’m taking on some practical concerns I have yet to answer. That is, how to cut through the overwhelming content and indescribable noise that lives and breathes on the web. I don’t expect to make a fortune with my books, but I do want to be read. (DO YOU HEAR ME, MR. GOLDBERG?!?!?) I believe my novels have something real to say about people, relationships, and life. And while writing a novel is an amazing experience of discovering one’s self, I have no taste for shouting into an abyss. There’s also a driving desire to be heard.
I had someone helping me with this area, but no longer. Probably why my concerns have jacked. So I do have some publicity plans, press releases, and will hope for an “author’s blog tour.” In my heart of hearts, though, I believe in word of mouth. People read because friends and relatives tell them about books they like.
An interesting example of this was a book called Women Running With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. First published in 1992, at the time I wrote for legacy houses, the book went nowhere for years. But then something happened. Book reps from publishing houses (these were the days when a lot of reps visited bookstores unlike today) began to pass the book around among each other, house notwithstanding. (Another phenomena I discovered back then was that reps from different houses often partied together and hung out with each other. Since I was pretty tight with my own rep, Barb, Sue and I were often invited to these parties.)
They threw me a curve.
These were the most literate people I met in the traditional publishing world and used to give each other books and discuss them all the time. Well, WRWW caught fire with the publishing reps who talked it up to their bookstores, who eventually began talking about it to their customers, who began talking about it to their friends. After years of languishing, the book became a bestseller and is still selling.
As the moment of this writing, a decade later, it is #2,503 on Amazon with 191 reviews, 8,013 ratings and 676 reviews on Goodreads. This word-of-mouth wave was begun by house reps. Today there are just skeletons of local reps and few independent bookstores. But these waves still happen in stores and online, whether they are tsunamis (A Million Shades of Gray) or smaller swells.
Solving this publishing issue ain’t gonna happen by honing my craft. Might not go away by using my imagination–but I gotta try. The question is, uh, try what? As a friend of mine Bruce Turkel, http://www.TurkelTalks.com, once said about slicing through this noise (and I paraphrase) “Nobody knows nothing.” And Bruce is a man who has spent his entire adult life in advertising and market branding.
Since I started this project and word got out, I’ve received dozens of emails from companies telling me they really know how to market on the Internet. Frankly, I believe Bruce. If Facebook’s stock gets smacked around because they have trouble attracting advertisers despite millions upon millions of users, then it seems absolutely true that “Nobody knows nothing.” Or that successful paradigms for advertising and/or selling become outdated as fast as last year’s cell phones. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe.
But if that’s going to happen, I’m gonna need your help. There’s around a thousand of you who have been following my posts. I don’t receive too many comments so I’m a bit hard-pressed to understand why you follow me, but perhaps that’s not important. I only hope you’ve found many posts to be interesting. And that those of you who will read my books and glom onto what I’m trying to do with detective fiction find the attempts successful and an enjoyable read.
In a week or two (boy, was I off with my timing) my new site will actually be up and running and will include all the links to buy my digital copies. I’m asking you to not only buy a copy, but to tell as many people as possible–by talking it up, writing reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your own blogs if you have them. And ask your folks to tell as many people as they feel comfortable with. I always liked the old Almond Growers Association’s ad campaign: One can a week, that’s all we ask.
Word of mouth is like the Great March; it begins with a single step. Which I no doubt will remind you again, and probably again (sorry) down the line. But I’d like to thank in advance each of you who decide to take that step with me.
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” ~ Leo Tolstoy