How to market your book: POP YOUR EGO

by Ksenia Anske

Photo by Kyle Thompson

That's right, I haven't even finished my book yet, let alone marketed it. I haven't even marketed anybody else's book, for that matter, so why exactly are you reading this? I'll give you one reason. I'm a reader too, and depending on how you market your book, I'll either pick it up or never grace it with a second glance. This, of course, applies mostly to indie authors as you guys have to do the work yourself. But more and more traditionally published authors have to pitch in as well. And, boy, do I get turned off sometimes. You. Don't. Want. That! Cause I read A LOT! And, well, I used to do social media marketing, so I hope I know something. Without further ado:

Play the underdog. This is surprisingly easy and works every time like a charm, yet people forget it and think that if they shove a link to their book in my face, I will drop everything and run screaming to check it out, to read it, to review it, and to tell all my friends and my entire extended family in Russia (hmmm, maybe THAT is not exactly what they want, but you get the point). Well, I won't. And not because I don't like you or I don't want to read your book. NO! Because you didn't ask nicely. Because you didn't delight me with a joke about your horrible self and your horrible book. Because reverse psychology always works. It does! Tell me I should never EVER click that link, and I will die from curiosity. It works like this: Tell a teenager she can't smoke, you bet she will. Tell her she can smoke, she'll... (well, this is another story, shall we move on already?)

Use a sense of humor. Get used to people beating you down and telling you your stuff sucks. Play it off with good humor, good sarcasm, a good joke. People lynch you NOT because they don't like you, it has nothing to do with you. Most of the time is has to do with them spilling their coffee on themselves in the morning and looking for that convenient target to spill their anger onto. Here is the trick. If you approach people with a sense of humor and don't take their remarks personally, they'll blow off their steam, and then they'll talk to you like to a human being. And you have a chance of them actually checking out your book (especially if this happened on one of your social media channels - because people tend to be more expressive online than they are in person).

Grow up. Oh, what did I just say? OMG. Did I tell you to grow up? Yeah, I did. Here is what some authors do. They run around and befriend people, tell them about their book (without actually being asked first) and then push it onto people to read it, or like their Facebook page, or whatever. Then, immediately, if they don't get a positive response or a promise or a LIKE, they unfollow you everywhere, cross you off their friends list, block you, strike you, close their mouth and don't speak a word to you as if you're some enemy. Sheesh, GROW UP! Stop your toddler tantrum and understand that people are busy! They might actually check out your book if you give them time! Which leads me to the next point.

Learn patience. Didn't your mama teach you? People are busy, and it's polite to ask one time and then wait. It's also polite to ask if the person MAY be contacted next week, and then wait till next week and actually contacting the person like you promised. So, instead of friending me on Goodreads, then flooding me with event messages and group invites and other stuff, and then, when I don't respond, blocking me, WAIT. Give me time. I can't go through all these, and sometimes I don't respond simply because I have no time! Some people keep asking me, how did you coax A. Lee Martinez to guest post on your blog? Easy. Patience. I've been patient and courteous and gave him time and each time played up his late response to my e-mails with humor, and won him over (I wonder if he'll agree after reading this?). Anyway.

Be yourself. I don't even have to write anything here, do I? Stop pretending you're some big best-selling author, just show people who you are, with all your pains and tears and doubts. We're all human, and we want to read your book to connect, to feel, to glimpse some sense into the course of humanity and continue living. If you keep puffing up your chest as if you're the best out there, we won't trust you, because we know we're not perfect. And if you're saying you are, then maybe you're lying about something else too. And we don't want lies, we want truth woven into genuine stories. 

To sum up. This is NOT a blog post about the technicality of how to market your book, where, etc, etc. There are plenty of those already written. This is a post about tucking your big writer's ego away for the benefit of the reader WHILE you're at it. However you do it. Please, take that rusty nail. Drive it in. Oh, I heard it! IT POPPED! Good job. Now, tell me what you thought, and give me a nail in turn. I need to pop my ego too, get carried away sometimes. Guilty.

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Don't publish if you're NOT READY

by Ksenia Anske

DISCLAIMER: I have not published anything yet, so don't read this post. It's horrible, horrible. Because, what do I know? How can I even talk about publishing if I haven't gone through the whole process? Still reading? You really are?!? OK. Here is what prompted this - I've read too many indie books that were not ready, and got fed up. My dearest fellow writers, please PLEASE don't publish if you're not ready. Here is why:

Not only will I abandon your book, I will abandon your name. I know this sounds harsh, and I know that once I'm published, there will be people who will hate my book because, for them, it's wrong genre or tone or subject, and that's totally fine. I can't please everyone. But this is not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about little things, like proper formatting and beautiful cover design and no spelling errors or repetitions or continuity lapses or boring paragraphs. And, above all, a clean story that's easy to follow. I'm a good girl, I will honestly try reading your book, but at some point my patience will run out and I will toss it. And I'll never pick up another book that you wrote. So don't lose me as a reader. Please. 

Don't lie to me, I'll never believe you again. I know those moments when I skip ahead in my writing simply because I'm too lazy to dive in deeper and really REALLY think. Or I'm too scared, or I have to run to pick up my son from school and rush it, whatever the reason. Well, guess what, as a reader I see those places in your book too. It's ok for little things, but not ok for big ones. For example, don't tell me your main character loves her husband, rushes home to him, and then never even talks to him, or they exchange only a sentence or two. I don't believe you now! You got me frustrated, and I'll toss your book aside. You knew the story wasn't ready, and I knew you knew. Double-fail.

You're doing a disservice to other indie authors. Now that I've been burned by your book, I'll be very VERY cautious about picking up another indie book. That's bad karma. We all want to support each other (mind you, this comes from a writer who doesn't even know if she'll go traditional or indie). I want to read great books, I do, I do! But you got me scared. I don't want to waste my time on bad writing. I want to learn, and I want to learn from good stuff and from the masters. See what you did? So, don't. Please, don't. You don't need an editor to tell you that - in your heart, you know. You know when it needs to sit a little longer and you're simply frustrated and want to get it done. It takes time. If it's no good, don't publish it at all. Which leads me to the next point.

A bad book will stain you for years. In my long gone past life, I used to help start-ups with branding, and I'll tell you what an author's name is. It's a personal brand. Everything you say goes either for you or against you. There is no middle ground, so you have to be very careful about what you say. And a book has many MANY words, it's hard to erase them once they're out. However, there is a way to turn around the negative impression you made, make it work to your advantage. Companies do it all that time. You know what it is? Simple. APOLOGIZE. Guess what, not many authors do, can or want. Not many will simply admit to being overexcited and publishing too fast. And that's a pity. Because we love the underdog and we will forgive you if you only ask!

BUT!!! Having said all this, there are always mistakes that we, readers, don't mind glossing over. Because the characters are awesome. Because the story is good. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect story, but there is such a thing as a perfect emotion. We all feel. And if you, the writer, will make us FEEL, we'll be happy.

Back to the point. If it's not a good idea to publish when you're NOT READY, then how do you know when you ARE READY? And the answer to this is, *drumroll*, I don't know! (Sorry, it's not 42.) I haven't done this yet, I have no clue. Some things I've picked up here and there, and I think there is a vague idea brewing in my mind. Brewing. I'll be posting on the publishing progress here, rest assured. Feel free to disagree or to doubt or to share your wisdom in the comments. 

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