Authors will ask this question at one point in their lives.
It doesn't matter if they have a marketing degree, or if they recently started an author Facebook page with minimal marketing experience. We post, we try, we observe, we repeat ... and with little impact.
So what happens when we give it our best effort and almost nothing happens?
What's worse is when we have a writing friend who seems to do the same thing we have in terms of marketing (or even less) who somehow ends up with 50-100+ reviews on Amazon and enormous sales.
For those in the midst of the void, I write for you.
Allow me to provide some encouragement for you today.
My Friend's Story
I have a friend who has a Master's Degree in Online Marketing. She literally got this degree to find out better ways to sell her books.
She works relentlessly.
When she teamed up with another relentless marketer (a famous one at that) to sell their book, they did just about anything an author could do. They sent out 100+ targeted review copies, entered contests (and won awards), ran free seminars and conferences, did readings, had tons of free opt-in content for their newsletters, got A-list endorsements, and so much more.
Not to mention, they had a mid-size publisher who did a decent amount of marketing as well.
Almost a year later they have about 20 reviews on Amazon, and the sales didn't turn out how they expected.
Does this mean that my friends didn't give 100 percent? That they didn't market appropriately?
By no means. They worked harder than most authors I know. They had the expertise, the education, and the drive. Sometimes sales fall flat and reviews fizzle, and you did everything you could.
Let me start this by saying I do not have a Master's in marketing. Not even a BA or BS.
But that doesn't mean I don't try when it comes to launching a new book.
Usually, for any given book, I will have a 15-25-page marketing plan. These included targeted reviewers, podcasts, launch team opportunities, and so much more. I've compiled what I have seen work successfully for authors and have combed through countless resources, conference teachings, and more to know what works and what doesn't.
I've had launch teams of 100+ participants and have sent out 100+ targeted review copies for other books.
My launch team maybe had 10 percent participation (even with a $50 Amazon gift card at stake for those who completed challenges). As for the reviewers, the book has not launched yet, but I do know only about 30% of them responded to my initial request.
Does this mean I didn't try? Absolutely not. I've dedicated literally hundreds of hours (and plenty of a financial investment) into marketing, giveaways, ads, and contests. I had a consistent posting schedule, made challenges clear to the launch team, and optimized my SEO best I could.
But the results don't show as clearly as I would have loved them to.
Marketing during COVID
Of course, a big piece of this boils down to COVID-19. People have cut most spending, especially due to a lack of job security, and often books are one of the first expenses to go.
I remember a distinctive phone call I had with my sister recently. She said, "I would've pre-ordered your book on your publisher's website, but I waited for it to show up on Amazon for a better deal."
I know instantly what she meant: a better price.
Readers will wait around until a book is listed for free, and even then, won't click download. If my own lifeblood has not purchased, reviewed, or even read (yes, even read) my books, what does this look like for the general public?
Authors haven't figured out how to market books during this crazy time, and so if you have launched a book recently, have grace for yourself. And often readers who enjoyed your book don't write reviews or even mentioned they loved the read.
Keep writing, and we'll get out of this void together.