Monday’s Musings: A Discouraging Word

I bought a book awhile back that I’d hoped would be helpful. Instead, it’s just depressing me.

Not depressed in a clinical sense, of course. But it’s proving to be more of a “downer” than a help. At least, that’s my initial response. It may prove useful once I digest it more.

So what is this terrible tome? And why would I read a story if it depresses me? Well, it’s not terrible; it’s good, in fact. And it’s nonfiction, not a story. It’s a wonderfully practical, informative book titled Sell Your Book Like Wildfire: The Writer’s Guide to Marketing & Publicity by Rob Eagar.

It’s obvious the author knows his stuff. He’s not only successfully put this knowledge to use for himself (he sold me a book, didn’t he?), but he’s helped hundreds of others increase their book sales. He doesn’t speak in generalities, leaving you to wonder, “Sounds like a good idea! How do I implement that?” Rather, he gives specific recommendations in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. He lets the reader know exactly what steps he or she needs to take.

And that’s what’s depressing.

I was dealing with everything pretty well until I got to Chapter 5, “Start a Wildfire With Your Author Website.” Specifically, the part about how it must be professionally designed so as to make the best possible impression, which will likely cost anywhere between three and six thousand dollars.

Okay, I can’t refute the guy’s logic or his experience. I understand what he’s saying, and the reasons he gives this advice. But I’m not paying thousands for a website. As a matter of fact, I’ve elected to ignore another of his dogmas: a free blog does not count as a professional author website.

Chapter 13, “Create Newsletters That Get Results,” was just as depressing. I have a strong aversion to newsletters. I don’t want to receive them. I don’t sign up for them, and I don’t feel comfortable asking other people to do something I won’t do myself. Not to mention the fact that I cringe at the thought of taking the time to create the blessed things, especially on the monthly basis he recommends.

Yeah, yeah, yeah — his methods are proven. Books don’t sell themselves; it requires effort. And the money spent is an investment, which (theoretically) will pay for itself in book sales. But first, you have to have the money to invest. And moreover, the whole promotion thing goes against my grain.

One thing he says that I DO like: be yourself. Don’t try to make yourself or your marketing efforts look like someone else. Implement the tools you’re most comfortable with and that you’re capable of handling. (Which, by the way, is why he suggests employing a web designer; most writers aren’t capable of pulling off a professional-looking website and will come off looking like amateurs.)

My musings on this subject range far and wide, but I’ll spare you. Let’s just say that, although I’ll continue reviewing his suggestions, I only plan to implement those that seem practical, reasonable, and fit the “be yourself” criteria. Which means that, apart from the supernatural intervention of God, my books will never sell like wildfire.

So be it.


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7 thoughts on “Monday’s Musings: A Discouraging Word

  1. I truly appreciate the bravery of this segment! It’s so easy to advise–on a well-intentional level–to invest X amount of dollars for a Y return, but when there is not X amount of dollars, what is one to do? I surely don’t buy into the concept of spending one’s fading (this economy is rough) last dollars on promotion when there are viable, good alternatives, like a free blog. Grant you, I’m not published in book-length fiction yet, and I do admit of dreaming about a nice & “professional” website, but when that day arrives for me, I know that if my novel fails to be a gripping story, and if I fail to roll my sleeves up in making connections on a blitzing social media basis, and if my story fails to spread via word-of-mouth, who will seek my name out on an expensively designed website? When you think about it, at that point, reverse promotion would help more: Come see what el cheapo author is doing. Wouldn’t that catch one’s eye? LOL.

    Bottom line: let’s keep relying on God, writing to our best ability, and doing what we can do without bankrupting ourselves. God does want us to be financially responsible! Right?

  2. Thank you Elaine. I appreciate your encouragement. It really does help counteract that “discouraging word!” You’re so right about relying on God first and foremost, and concentrating on quality writing. I’d rather be an el cheapo author with a great book than a successful author with mediocre books. And seriously, I don’t think that’s just “sour grapes” talk! More than anything, I want to write the best books I can, always improving, always reaching for Him rather than the brass ring of worldly success.

  3. Yvonne,
    You are right on! At least in MY opinion. As an author teaching other authors how to sell successfully, he would have been remiss not to bring up all the ways that can create interest and the kind of responses to sell a lot of books. But honestly, I can’t think of one book I have ever bought because of a “professional” website. Mostly, I buy my books by word of mouth. Well, maybe not truly the spoken word, ha! But when I see posts and blogs that mention a book and create a curiosity in me, well… I’m way more into that BECAUSE it’s free. Catch my drift? If someone doesn’t have a stake in the success of a book and they recommend it, it carries a lot more weight than a paid advertisement.

    I suppose there comes a point where all this could and should happen. But, Yvonne, you’ll know if and when that time comes. Yes, definitely, just be yourself! Because that “self” that *I* know, listens to God. 🙂 There’s no better coach than Him!

    1. Thank you, Sue — give yourself a hug for me, would you?
      I do have a great respect for the book’s author. As I said, he knows his stuff. I also get the impression he’s a Christian. But it’s true, I’ve never bought a book because I liked the author’s website. In fact, I bought HIS book because I saw it featured on the Novel Journey blog and it sounded like something I needed to read.
      No matter how good a book it is, no one can buy it if they don’t know about it! But sometimes the word-of-mouth method works slowly rather than taking off like a wild fire.
      While we’re being honest, though, I’ll admit that it would be nice to get a little remuneration from all the hours of toil and sweat I’ve put into my writing!

  4. Loved it. I feel exactly the same. And I know there are a lot of very good web designers who don’t charge anywhere near that much. I also agree with you about the newsletter. I sign up for them but half the time don’t get to read them.

    1. Thank you, Frances. I’m not saying I’ll never-ever-ever have a professional website or send newsletters. But I’m definitely not going to take money from the bank in order to do them right away because somebody says I need to!

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