Our topic this week is whether reviews do any good, which also segued into marketing, branding and the long game as an author. WHEW!
OK, first to reviews. I very much appreciate every reader and book blogger who takes the time to review books. That’s a wonderful thing to do! I think reviews are the readers’ experience with the book and as such not really meant for me as the author per se. When I’m in reader mode, reviews help me decide whether to try a book or not…as an author, I have to say I’m writing the stories I want to tell and I’m not going to be influenced by something I might read in a review of a previous book. The reader is totally entitled to their opinion and their thoughts might help someone else decide to try the book or not…but writers gonna write and my Muse dictates which book I write and how the plot goes.
I write what I want to read and can’t find enough of, be it ancient Egyptian paranormal romance or scifi romance. Or even fantasy romance, which reminds me, I really need to write the next book in that series!
What REALLY helps an author nowadays in word of mouth, which yes, has been around since medieval days or before LOL. Nothing new under the sun.
If one reader tells another reader and they tell two readers etc. etc. (or posts on Facebook or does a recommendation on Goodreads or BookBub) then the Sky is The Limit. Not so long ago an author I admire told her readers on FB how much she loved my scifi romance Badari Warriors series and wow, I really saw an upswing that week in people buying the first book of the series to see for themselves and I was so grateful…plus wildly pleased that someone I had such a high opinion of as an author actually liked my book.
As far as branding, I write action adventure with romance, no matter what time frame and which world the story is set in. If you buy a ‘Veronica Scott’ book, that’s what you will get. I’m pretty consistent. Branding-wise, I emphasized the scifi romance because that was where my strongest sales were and enjoyed quite a few opportunities to blog and do interviews (of other SFR authors and scifi-related TV actors), which further strengthened the identification of name and genre. Science fiction is genuinely my first love, going all the way back to when I was a kid reading my first Andre Norton novel (which alas lacked romance). If I had infinite time, I’d write all three genres equally but my career path has skewed mostly to the SFR.
Marketing. I am not a whiz at that. Running thousands of ads and doing A/B testing to see what works and tweaking that and…not for me. I was pretty good at Amazon ads for a while until they changed their whole algorithm AGAIN. I do a newsletter when I have a new release…I occasionally buy an ad somewhere else or once in a blue moon luck out and get a Book Bub ad. Remember that word of mouth thing I mentioned above? Yeah, that’s my best hope. I put out what I feel are good books, professionally edited and hope readers will enjoy them enough to want to read more of them and tell their friends.
I'd love to have a really savvy PR person who'd take all of that marketing stuff off my hands and run ads in every medium and get me on talk shows and....oh, but that requires BIG BUCKS. Which my little indie publisher me budget doesn't run to.
Long game? ABSOLUTELY! The indie publishing world has its ups and downs and even a solid backlist like the one I have doesn’t always do as well as a person might hope, but I love writing my stories, I love sharing my stories, and I have no plans to stop.
Besides, you never know when the next book might turn into an astronomical hit! (I can dream – that’s a strategy, right?)
Hiccups in the publishing world come and go but I’ve been published since 2012 now and I’m really happy with how many books I have released (closing in on 30), with the fun I’ve had and the amazing authors and readers I’ve ‘met’, either in person or online.