The Dea(r)th of Marketing

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I’m not directly marketing my books anymore. Sure, I sell some, and I’d love to sell more, but I no longer try. In my opinion, the Great Internet experiment is over. Twitter marketing does nothing but fill up other authors’ streams with retweeted book notices that no one reads. Facebook is pretty much as useless. In fact, the single way I’ve reached people in order to convince them to try my books, is via interacting with them. Which is ironic, because I’m never trying to get them to read my books when I interact; I’m mainly just killing boredom.

I suppose the old ways would still work — book signings, book clubs, interviews, and the like — but I don’t do any of those things. With a full-time career, it isn’t likely I ever will. Instead, I just focus on writing for myself and occasional photography. Either they will eventually sell, or they won’t. Whatever God brings is what will be.

In the meanwhile, I’ve gotten unsolicited feedback on my next book idea. (In my experience, 90% of unsolicited feedback is negative.) It didn’t bother me; naysaying never does, in truth. Still, I haven’t started writing it, mainly because I don’t see people buying and reading books. That’s because, like me, no one I’ve met seems to have a clue how to market. The old ways don’t work because the old distribution channels no longer exist.

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My sci-fi novel, Hard as Roxx, is in limbo. I have someone “editing” it, but I’ve gotten 11 chapters since November. My impression is it’s a book the editor thinks is well-written, but he doesn’t like it. I’ve done editing for years. It doesn’t take long to edit something you enjoy reading. So, I have the edited chapters, along with notes from my beta reader. Maybe I’ll eventually start working on it. Or not.

After all, not everyone can deal with a science fiction book starring two women – a single mom with a lesbian best friend with a serious crush. I have no intention of changing out the characters to make the love interest a guy. It was originally going to be a guy, but Trint (the best friend) had better chemistry.

I think what I’ve learned is not to care that what I write isn’t “commercial.” Frankly, most of the books critics have raved over have bored the crap out of me. For instance, I’m reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk now, after reading rave reviews. It’s well-written. I’ve liked two or three chapters. Still, I spend every other chapter aware that I’m reading a book someone decided should be the Iraq War’s Catch 22. Maybe this is the book he wrote in his office on his laptop, but I just don’t know. It feels … polished. Polished books try too damn hard, and this does too. (Except for my favorite line in the book: “Oh for the fuck of shit.” That was perfect, in its context.”) The story takes place during the Iraq war and yet I’ve read the word “honky” at least twice. The last time I heard that word, George Jefferson was yelling at that guy from Sesame Street who lived next door.

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Mr. Bentley and George Jefferson on Sesame Street … or something.

Me? I would have just written the story and let it be what it be. But I’m not marketable. Every week, I rise, and I remind myself that Van Gogh used to be not very good and not at all marketable. If I have to improve in one area, it sure as fuck won’t be in marketing.

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11 thoughts on “The Dea(r)th of Marketing

  1. Mary Quallo

    Bill. needless to say it’s your choice to market your books or not, but I for one have only just discovered you and I would hate like hell not being able to get your books. I have been very busy lately as I am a polymer clay and chain maille jewelry artist and I have a show this coming weekend. I only allow myself to read at bed time right now because I need to work and if I pick up a book (right now I’m still reading The Juice and other stories) I would read instead of working. Market your books or don’t, just assure me I will be able to get them. Keep writing Bill. I’m still reading. Mary

  2. I am still waiting for Hard as Roxx. And even though four of my fingers are cracked on their tips and under the nails from this damn weather and i literally bleed on the keyboard, i still want to write to you about this. Mainly I want to say that you are better than most of us because you DO write and you DO publish and you Do work like crazy to get things done. I know you hate that you inspire other people to do that too. But too bad. You are an inspiration. And i am not sure you care that much about marketing.. you care about writing. I know.. I have read quite a bit of your writing now. . And this is why i will always remain your old friend and pom pom girl. because you give a shit. .. anyway.. Camera house is working hard trying to extract images out of the gloom down here.. Ni Ni.. cecilia.

  3. Pom pom girl. Ahem. I’m sorry, what? 😀

    Thanks, Celi. Actually, when it comes to Roxx, I agreed to publish it through someone’s small publishing imprint, but things are going painfully slowly. I have ADHD: I tend to move really fast. So, I’m just ignoring the process until I have all the edits; then, I’ll do them at once.

    To this point, Roxx is my favorite book, and Roxx and Trint are my (by far) two favorite characters. I hope to get it done before I die.

  4. I hope you do too!! And I WAS a pom pom girl once, I had white boots and a very short red and white striped skirt. I even have pictures! A skinny NZ girl doing the ra ra.s in the midst of the tanned and toned american girls was quite the thing i will tell you, I was terrible! falling over my own feet laughing half the time.. i just could not get co-ordinated (or serious) .. a great disappointment to all i am sure, But i did love the dances!! And i loved the cheering on! c

  5. Most of the best artists, painters, writers etc., are famous only once they have died. Artists are seldom good at marketing their work. The artist and the marketer, in my view, fall on opposite sides of the artistic divide. Artists want to create, communicate, and inspire while the marketer is only interested in the bottom dollar. Quality requires thought, quantity requires a sheep hearding mentality. I haven’t read your books, but I know your photographs are excellent. Keep on creating. You have real talent. That is something money cannot buy.

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I keep reminding myself that I’m blessed, because I have a good job. Once I beat that into my head, then I’m able to give myself permission to just do the best I can.

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