I teach English to high school students in the real world. That is, the world that gives me a consistant paycheck and allows me to pay some of the bills. When I assign essays and papers, the first thing they try to bargain with is the word count. Apparently to kids these days, anything over fifty words is too much. For adults too, I suppose, because people ask me all the time how I can possibly crank oput 75,000 plus words per novel. For me, the writing isn’t the hard part. And from what I can tell from the various writer’s groups I participate in, it isn’t for most writers and aspiring writers. It’s marketing the work after it’s complete.

This author’s biggest challenege isn’t ideas or words, but rather finding the best way to reach a potential audience. I am not naturally a salesman, but I am married to one. (Is that a little like playing one on television?) Okay, so technically my husband is less a (chemical) salesman these days and more of a sales manager, but he understands selling.  He is always encouraging me to get out there and sell more books. And as much as I would like to do just that, sometimes that is a monumental task for me.

What is the best avenue to take to reach the people I want and need to reach? I read articles about this on the internet, scour blogs about the subject, pay attention to what other indie (self-published) authors like myself are doing. The conclusive answer? No one seems to know. I am quickly finding out that this writing business is a lot of trial and error. I have nine books in kindle and paperback formats, and some of them sell many more copies than others. Some have sold well with no advertising efforts at all and some of them have benefitted from a little marketing help.

Here’s what I hear authors say about marketing:

1. I don’t have an advertising budget. It is a bit of a catch 22, isn’t it? We are trying to build a market and make money doing this, so authors are hesitant to spend even a little of their revenue on advertising, especially when they don’t know if it will pay off.

2. I’m not sure where to start. Also confusing…I’ve been there myself. In many ways I still am.

3. My book should be good enough to speak for itself. Yes, it should, but marketing should help even the best literary maserpiece.

I have been in the indie publishing arena since January of 2012. I started with one book in January. I sold 4 copies that month. I did no advertising, but talked about my book a little on Facebook. I added a new book, then added a couple more. My sales went up to about 20 in both the US and UK markets for several months. For some reason in June I sold over 100 books, again with no advertising. Sales continued to trend upwards, with most of my sales being in UK and for one book (I’ll Be Seeing You). In September, I sold over 700 books in both markets with an ocassional sale somewhere else.Then October came and sales started to slow down. (I read some Kindle forums and it seems like it was a difficult month for everyone.) My sales weren’t dismal, but they weren’t as high as the months previous. In November I decided to do a little advertising. I placed an ad on FB for my book Only For You which had just been released. This campaign cost me nothing, I had a voucher for $50 that I received from my domain host.  I sold fifty copies the first two weeks of the month-long campaign, and fifty copies the next month (Dec.). I don’t know if advertising had anything to do with the sales or not, but since it coincided, I decided to try the idea again.

Here’s what I am doing currently:

Facebook Ads In February when I released Terezin Twilight I did another $50 facebook ad. It sold 33 copies the last two weeks of that month, then sold 170 copies last month. I did another $50 ad last month and it has sold over 200 copies.I added $50 more this month, sales are a little behind, but seem to be picking up.

Book Pinning.com A member of one of my author groups introduced me to this site, which for free lets you pin your book (a little like Pinterest for writers), with a link to your amazon page or website. For a very low cost you can advertise here: rates start at 7.95 and go up to $32 for an advertising package. I went with their “A” Package- which includes a Book Of the Day feature (for three days), a facebook, twitter and pinterest blitz and a full-page ad with blurb, my bio, book cover and reviews for $18.

BookBuzzr.com I just started this, so the jury is out on it. It’s $12.95 a month, and you get tweets, cover views, you can create quizzes and games about your book, upload a bio, link to your other sites.

BookDaily  At $49.00 a month for becoming an ’emerging author’ you get featured in several email listings and mailings. You can post an excerpt for free however.

Have I hit the point where I can say advertising made a huge difference? No, not yet.  I am currently selling about ten books a day, to call this a full-time job, I need to sell thirty books a day. (Not that I want to limit sales to that!) Until the time I can post like Mr. Konrath that I have sold hundreds of thousands of books, I will continue to experiment with marketing ideas until I figure out what really works.

You can help make that thirty or more books a day a reality by checking out my books at http://www.booksbylynnmurphy.com