Does independent book marketing work?

This week I have the pleasure of welcoming Tim Ellis as the guest Blogger for Muse Shack.

Tim impressed me with his incisive questioning that we all do well to employ. I was convinced after reading Tim’s article that his questions forced me to ask another question, ‘How can independent book marketing be done well’? I found my answer, I wonder will you.
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Here’s the thing! Now, it might be that my eleven ebooks are  total rubbish, and  although I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews about two of my  books because I  like sex, I have had some 4 and 5-star reviews of two of my   other books. Reviews, however, are not the subject of this blog – although  reviews do deserve a blog of their own, and I will put index finger to keyboard in the near future.For my first blog I’d like to talk about the dilemma that is ebook marketing,  promotion, advertising, etc. There’s been a few people blogging about this black art as if they knew what they were talking about – do they? How did they find out? Where’s the objective evidence? I’ve got a PhD, so I know about research, objective evidence, statistical significance, etc., and I haven’t seen the figures – show me the damn figures to prove that any of it works.


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Social networking it’s called – Facebook, Fan Pages, Twitter, Kindleboards, Amazon Forums, Bookbuzzr, Goodreads, but there are thousands (maybe millions) of sites out there, and new ones sprouting up every day. Here’s a link to get you started: http://traffikd.com/social-media-websites/ Also, there’s guest blogging, featured author, featured book, ebook giveaways, etc.Call me a whore, but I ventured down this road into  purgatory. I joined Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ (timellis13) and started tweeting, retweeting, following and being followed, but did it result in any of my ebooks going viral (definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_phenomenon)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!


I’d joined Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1117655869 way back when, but hadn’t bothered with it. Then, when I Kindled all my books, I thought I’d have another stab. I joined Writing Kindle Books – a group of like-minded ebook authors who chatter, tag, like, tweet, moan, groan, love, share, and Digg each other like any extended family. I’ve made a lot of friends, but has the word got out about my books? Have just one of the wonderful titles on offer shot off into the stratosphere? The answer – in case you were wondering – is a down-to-earth NO!

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I saw a FB friend with a widget, and I lusted after it. I joined the free  part of Bookbuzzr or fReado – there’s a premium (pay) membership as well – and I uploaded all my  books onto the site. I got those nifty widgets. Here – take a look – http://timellis.weebly.com/my-books.html – do they make you want to read, steal, download, or otherwise purloin my books? Have these widgets (and the automated tweets) resulted in a  conflagration of sales (a fire sale)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!

The Amazon Kindle/book forums were the place to be. Like Danny Gillan http://susannefromsweden.wordpress.com/  I ventured on there, hunted out the UK and USA forums for the  different genres I write in, made some acquaintances in the fantasy forum, advertised my books, but to a large extent the squatters in the threads made it quite clear that authors promoting their books are lower than a snake’s belly and viewed as the second coming of Bubonic Plague (definition and nice picture here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague). Anyway, I persisted, until I got an email from the wonderful people  in Customer Services at Amazon saying my posts were not posts, but blatant self promotion and if I didn’t stop it my forum rights would be curtailed – told off good and proper. I tracked over a Baker’s dozen of threads and received notification by email of new posts – everybody was doing it, but they picked on me! I’m not tracking any threads now. I’m not posting on anymore threads either – I know when I’m not wanted. Did this embarrassing sortie into the Amazon jungle of forums result in me being compared to Steig Larsson, JRR Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke, or any of the other dead greats? The answer – if you were wondering – is a resounding NO!

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I went on the Kindleboards. I got told off because I had too many books – the  covers looked very nice all lined up next to each other – but apparently, I  wasn’t meant to advertise on any forum except the self-promotion forum. I  chatted, introduced myself, talked about esoteric things, made observations,  asked questions, jumped from thread to thread with casual abandon, exuded wonderfulness, but did any  of my books become bestsellers, a top-ten chartbuster, a mover or a shaker? The  answer – if you were wondering – is a Top Ten NO!

I gave some books away:  http://indiebookblogger.blogspot.com/2011/04/free-ebooks-galore.html, and put myself about a bit: http://indieebooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/knowledge-of-time-second-civilization.html?spref=tw, and in a couple of other places that I can’t remember (note to self – must write things down!). Did these forays into the blogosphere turn any of my  books into blockbusters? Was my email clogged up with agent’s begging to represent me, or publishers offering me six-figure advances, or Steven Spielberg wanting the film rights to at least one of my books? The answer – if you were wondering – is a big fat NO!

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I could talk about Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going to. She’s now signed for a traditional publisher so she doesn’t have to do any Social networking. Now there’s an idea!This is my incursion into blogging. Will it result in sales, spikes in the Excel chart, emails from Amazon saying I’m now in their Top Ten all-time favourites and they’d like me to come back to the forums? The answer – if you were wondering is – let’s wait and see!

Please feel free to tell me if I’ve missed something, or you’ve been offended by anything I’ve mentioned. And if you like it, feel free to Tweet and Share – you never know – I might get a sale!