It’s been four days since the launch of “Glitter Buckets & Spades,” and it’s time to sit down and consider what I’ve learned from the experience. Let’s preface the following breakdown by saying that I’ve certainly gained an appreciation for the job that is “book promotion.” I’ve definitely enjoyed parts of it, and I’ve found myself feeling unable to fully engage with other parts. My primary issue with promotion is that I feel like a fraud, experiencing some degree of imposter syndrome.
Overall, it’s been a successful launch. To date, I’ve sold 25 books, a mix of eBooks and paperbacks, all sold via Amazon. I’m using Amazon’s “Select” programme for the coming 90 days, so I’m bound to not publishing elsewhere until then. The book is, however, available for pre-order on several other channels.
Can I call myself a writer now?
I’ve often found myself considering the boundaries of when one can declare oneself a “writer.” I’ve seen plenty of rubbish memes on social media saying things along the lines of “the moment you put pen to paper, you’re a writer, baby.” But I don’t buy that. I’m not a writer if I send a company an email. I’m not a writer if I send a postcard.
In my view, being acknowledged as a writer by someone I don’t know, without marketing being the primary factor, is what validates the title. For instance, if someone were to approach me about my work without solicitation, that would be a solid indication that I am indeed a writer. Similarly, once I’m over the current promotion phase for Glitter Buckets, those extra sales would also validate the use of the title. For what it’s worth, I do consider myself a writer. It’s a badge I wear with honour and humility. I’m proud of myself and my writing.
As previously discussed, choosing a four-week pre-order window was simply too long given my current position. All it did was prevent me from fully engaging with the act of promotion, since in my mind I knew that the promotion itself was something of a sham. In my head, “Please pre-order a book so you can enjoy the idea of having it at some point in the future” is a difficult sell. Sure, if the item is anticipated, then I can see the value, but when no one has ever heard of this “Paul London” guy, then what is it that I’m really selling? Or, rather, what is it that they’re really buying? It’s a promise, and one whose truth can’t be evaluated until some time later.
Promotions and marketing
I’ve never been particularly skilled at marketing, and to be honest, I tend to be quite humble and private about my work. In fact, only a select few of my closest friends and family members know about my book or that I identify as a writer. As a result, promotion has been a crucial aspect of my book launch. I’ve attempted a limited amount of posting on Facebook and Twitter. I believe TikTok is an up-and-coming marketing medium, but that’s not something that appeals. For privacy reasons, YouTube doesn’t quite hit the mark for me, either.
With Facebook and Twitter, I’m tending towards the “one post per day” philosophy. It feels a little strange, since all I’m doing is echoing “Buy now” messages.
What is even stranger, though, and what I don’t really pretend to understand, is that most of my social media posts appear to be falling into an echo chamber. And when I examine other writers and their posts, I believe they are doing the same. Most of what I see is writers following each other, all promoting to one another, and rarely to (as far as I can see) readers. I’m not convinced, to be honest, that this form of “free” marketing is useful. I can see the benefits if you’re an established personality, but not as a nobody. And I am certainly that.
Having said that, I did pay for a few Facebook ads (pre-launch) and Twitter ads. They were reasonably successful but a little muted. Again, I think the issue here was not having a product that customers could actually buy, but only pre-order. I will try some ads again on Facebook in particular.
I elected to use BookBub’s “New Releases for Less” promotional tool, in which Glitter Buckets received a placement on one of their promotional newsletters. So far, this has been reasonably successful, but I think I am unlikely to gain more than the cost of the ad.
I am also attempting to launch some ads with Kindle. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not expecting good things, from what I hear.
My costs for this book have been its cover design, various pre-sale Facebook and Twitter ads, and a BookBub promotion. I won’t go into exact numbers here, but let’s just say that I’ll have to sell around five hundred copies of the book to break even so far, and I’m still likely to run some more advertising in the near future. To be clear, I don’t see these costs as sunk; they are a means to an end, essentially promoting a brand (me), and I also don’t feel that the costs or sales define the success or otherwise of myself or the book.
So, twenty-five books sold. I’ll take that. It’s a decent start in its first week on sale from an unknown author, though I can account for around six of those from the few people I have told about the book. Over the next few days, I expect the Amazon ads to kick in, which should hopefully gain me another half dozen, but I’m not expecting much more than that.
I feel somewhat vindicated that the book is worth reading, at least based on its blurb. I’ll continue to add more to the blog as and when I have more to say.