I have gone many directions, time-consuming, frustrating directions to promote my books, and it finally came clear to me. Why was I listening to all these souls who have never accomplished what I want to— to successfully promote from scratch works of fiction written by an unknown self-published author. I too got caught up in the flurry of social media. I hammered away at twitter, put some effort in Goodreads, dabbled with facebook, linkIn, Stumble Upon, Pinterest and remained loyal to and active with Triberr. Hours of time, days and weeks’ worth, while what lurked in the back of my mind was always the feeling of “this ain’t it.”
The social media approach appears both logical and rational. It’s the old lure of network marketing – this branching arrangement that starts small but grows like compound interest and then supports you in selling something. So where does Social Media break down as a marketing tool for indie novels?
Network marketing is arranged into leaders and followers. You have to inspire and train your group well enough that that influence keeps travelling out through the network. The successful people have put an immense amount of work into inspiring and coaxing their group to keep active and work on, encouraged by a monetary reward to boot.
Social Media, on the other hand, is a group of independent beings, who hope to achieve a similar outcome with strangers whose only perk is the occasional meeting with an interesting person. When human beings find themselves in large, ill-defined groups, our inclination is to select down toward a parcel of folks we feel like we know. So all the while we work at extending the number of contacts, friends, circles, etc.in various social media, we are simultaneously narrowing our focus and attention to a much smaller group. Consequently, even with those 10,000 or 20,000 twitter buddies or 1,000,000 reach on Triberr or oodles on facebook, the one thing that truly matters isn't there—knowing each other well enough that there is a sense of connection that inspires loyalty and the occasional charitable act. Thus most of what we write or say falls on the ears of those who have no reason to stop and listen, let alone share it.
Without meaningful connection - something that has happened between two people sufficient to have them remember one another even if only in a peripheral way - there is no reason for them to stop in the midst of another busy day to read or respond to a message/blog/story coming their way. What is lacking is a true sense of community. This is why I believe that social media is not the promotional tool it is cracked up to be for promoting or selling works of fiction by unknown authors.
Selling fiction has some unique challenges. People stop to read non-fiction or self-help offerings regardless of who sends it because that interaction is driven by need, but no one I've ever met NEEDED to read fiction in that same manner as they need to learn accounting or how to build a blog. The marketing arena we participate in requires something that other businesses do not. We’re not selling a product; we’re not even selling a service. We are offering entertainment as it were, but the one form of entertainment that requires a self-motivated person to engage. So perhaps, as Raymond Carver says, we need a new path to the waterfall.
When we’re up against odds that are not in our favor or involved with a situation where no one seems to have an answer, that’s when we must part from the logical and rational and make an intuitive leap. I’m not talking religion nor am I talking magic. I’m referring to the way things work or Tao. R.L. Wing says in her famous translation of the Tao Te Ching, “Lao Tzu attributed most of the world’s ills to the fact that people do not feel powerful and independent,” a reasonable description of many new indie fiction writers. So how do we change that? Here’s a new perspective:
“Unwavering power is the product of unwavering
clarity and Stillness.”
In other words, you provide the clarity – know what it truly is you are after. And then you must do what it takes to get quiet within yourself so you can notice the ideas that come to you out of seeming nowhere, that begin to direct your steps toward fruition of what you seek. When you experience living in this way, you want to call it magic because it is so seemingly effortless and effective. Rather, it is your natural state of being.
The way I look at it, you wouldn't be reading this if you were already successful, so what have you got to lose? As I begin the promotion of a new novel, Where It Began, book one of the Accidents of Birth Trilogy, it’s the road I’m taking. And while you’re at it, the protagonist in this trilogy, Miss Imogene, a quirky, black housekeeper, can tell you a thing or two in very plain English about living intuitively and model what it looks like through some of the most difficult modern times we've known in this country. A pretender she’s not. Nor do we have to be.
Novels of Story & Substance