Marketing Books and Monopoly—My Journey around the Board
Recently, my brother introduced me to “Monopoly for Sore Losers”. Since, in my family I have the reputation from childhood, reinforced and maintained by those around me as a “sore loser”, I had to get it. As I played the game, I realised how much marketing and being a dominant player on the internet, is like Monopoly and Mr. Monopoly from the “Sore Loser” edition, like the “Best Sellers” on Amazon.
Now, about marketing, I’m not an expert by any means. But, since I began this indie-publishing journey back in late 2015, I have learnt what works for me.
This last summer, for me in Australia, I have been concentrating on the “housekeeping” side of marketing my books. Thus, my first, Mission of the Unwilling, had a makeover and re-released as a second edition. Then all four books cycled through their five-day free promotion on Amazon. Next I’m looking into paying some money for advertising.
It seems my marketing skills have a way to go in gaining a monopoly on Amazon shelves and being sold. You see, marketing and advertising one’s product, my books and artwork, takes time. The issue with time is that I’d rather be creating than slogging away pushing my product in an already saturated market.
When I started on this journey, I, like many a writer, thought that mine was the great (insert country) novel, that readers will be hanging out to get their hands on. The book would sell itself. It didn’t happen, as I dreamed.
A foray into the publishing world, and its history reveals an unexpected picture. Although amazing authors and brilliant books exist, and are sold in abundance world-wide, the literary world is full of mediocre tomes stacked on the shelves of bookshops and online distributers. Some are bestsellers.
How, is this so?
Answer, effective marketing. Often, especially with traditional publishing, the writers have a “platform”. Traditional publishing is a business and they go for the safe option—someone who is famous or becomes famous through their authored works. They bank on reader curiosity, who sells well, has a “brand” and longevity.
Needless to say, I didn’t have a “platform”. However, I have been developing a network and influence through my “blogsite” and Website, “Tru-Kling Creations”, and most recently this publishing collective, “Indie Scriptorium”.
The challenge with my blogsite when I first started was to make it visible. Way back in 2015, it was so buried by the competition, that I couldn’t even find it—even when I typed in the precise address.
After embarking on some more research, I discovered a phenomena called “algorithms”. To put it simply, think of Monopoly; the more properties you acquire, the more likely someone is to land on you.
In my blogsite’s case, the more visitors you get, the more visible your site becomes. The “Mr. Monopolies” of the cyberworld actually employ computer experts to manipulate the algorithms. That is how a mediocre book can become a bestseller.
So, how do we, the so called “Plebs” of the internet, compete with these “Mr. Monopolies”? How do we get our blog/webpage onto page 1? How can our masterpieces rise to the top like cream and become bestsellers like they ought to be?
Well, first make sure our books are the best they can be. Start with good editing and proofreading. Check out Indie Scriptorium’s posts on editing. Then once you and your test-readers are satisfied with your product, then the next step is marketing and advertising. This includes doing your research, figuring out who your audience is, and pitching to your potential readers.
As I wrote before, I found that blogging and setting up a webpage has worked for me. I now have over 550 followers of my blog. But it has taken time. I found that inviting friends and family to follow, visit and like my posts helped boost activity. This then led to a wider-worldwide audience. I persevered. I’m still in the game. Even though I am not like some bloggers who have thousands of followers, I am encouraged when I get visitors who come via the “Search Engine” as it means my blogs are visible.
It’s the same with our books and the competition from the big sellers, those Mr. Monopolies of the book world. True, the mediocre best sellers will have their time in the sun. But, it won’t last. Good literature, I believe will shine through in the end. I realise now, that my novels are not the great Australian work I had dreamed they were, but for some who have read them, they have found great enjoyment, and are asking, ‘When’s the next one coming out?’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023
Feature Photo: Product placement; another way of advertising (and it’s not just Monopoly) © L.M. Kling 2023