Getting your book published is a step-by-step process. Yes, there are pitfalls, but basically, if you have enough brains to write a book, you can do it. But selling your book, in order words, having anyone actually read it, that’s the really tricky part.
In my earlier blog post, I laid out the step-by-step process I used to get my book published. Worthy of note is the fact that I’m a Brazilian citizen, living in Brazil, which added another layer of complication, but with the help of the folks I mention there, everything happened very smoothly.
Figures vary, but estimates are that some 4000 books get published every day in English. Think about that. Your book is going to be another drop in that vast ocean of books published. Getting noticed, you can see, is no easy feat.
In Brazil, I already have a nice following. I’ve been publishing books here for over 10 years. I have thousands of followers. My YouTube channel for Portuguese speakers just hit 1 million views, with over 1000 new subscribers every month. When I published my “3T Path” book here, in Portuguese, all I had to do was post it on Facebook and send out emails. I do a lecture and dozens of books get sold. Here in my Yoga Resort, the book is always selling. Smooth and stress-free.
In October of 2016, I decided to expand my work to the English-speaking world. Starting with zero. Nada. From scratch. I set up this website, Instagram account, YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook page. And I started doing my stuff, in English. Videos, blog posts and quotes for Instagram. And I wrote the book “The 3T Path” for those interested in really changing their lives with what I had to offer.
I thus knew that publishing my book in English, if I did nothing more, would result in practically no sales, since I didn’t have a US or UK base yet. I figured I would literally sell 2 or 3 books a month for a good time to come.
So, going against my wife’s suggestion, I sought out professional support to prime the pump. I started looking around for book marketing professionals. In the end, I hired Penny Sansevieri and her Author Marketing Experts (AME) company.
Penny looked like the real deal. She’s been around enough and she sells lots of books on the topic of selling books, including one called, “How To Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon”. Great, I thought! That’s what I want to do! So, I contacted her.
We had a very nice first contact. Both by email and by phone I made it clear that I had zero presence in the US or UK so that I didn’t have any fan base to draw upon to sell books in English. I told her on the phone that I didn’t mind making zero profit. I just didn’t want to lose money.
She offered me a package of services, and I even opted for the extra stuff. It came out to a couple of thousand dollars per month, for 3 months straight.
If I had to sum up Penny’s work it would be: “the surgery was a success but the patient died”. Her staff make a really nice looking list of things they tried to do, blogs and media they contacted, this and that strategy, doing a Goodreads giveaway, getting reviews, etc. What actually came through was a tiny fraction of what they supposedly tried to do. And what resulted from that tiny fraction, was pretty much zero sales.
Call me nuts, but I believe that marketing investment has to bring you at least that amount back. Since getting my message out is more important to me than money, I’m not worried about making a profit. But, since I don’t have a trust fund and since I never ask for donations from my students, I also can’t just throw money away.
The lady sells a book titled “how to sell truckloads of books”, but her and her staff, working for 3 months, couldn’t even sell a satchel full of books. Ouch! Biggest case of buyer’s remorse in my entire life. And I’m almost 50 years old! Half a century buying things and hiring services, and Penny takes the gold medal for my biggest case of buyer’s remorse. Quite an achievement.
I don’t think I got 2%, yes, that’s right not TWO PERCENT, of my marketing investment back. In technical terms a ROI of -98%. Harsh.
Did I get great personal advice from Penny for my investment? Nope. After the first talk to seal the deal, that was it. No more Penny. When I noticed the campaign was a disaster and made a fuss, she answered my email, but basically telling me to chillax and that it was normal for there not to be results right away. Nice. Wish you told me that before I parted with my hard-earned money, Penny.
So, my conclusion is that book marketing is GREAT…. for the book marketers. Maybe not so much for the clients. Great business to be in if your aim is making a buck. Better than being an author, that’s for sure!
Sorry, I’m not going to end this post with a magic recipe for you to sell your books. From what I read, all the advice seems to point in the same direction: you just have to be known and followed. Your followers will buy your book and if they like it, others will buy it and then that becomes a “news-worthy” fact to be noted by bloggers and regular media, and then you’ll get more followers and the cycle continues. This is happening to me in Brazil, organically. To be known, they say, you have to constantly create content and participate in other people’s blog and submit articles and stories left and right. So, that’s partly what I’m doing – always and regularly creating content and slowly people are taking notice.
I was hoping, wrongly I see now, that a professional like Penny would have some shortcuts, would have contacts in the media and experienced targeted advice to help an author take a big step in that direction. It’s not what I got from Penny. Not even close.
But hey, poorer but wiser. If I help other authors avoid similar fates, then I’ll be happy in the knowledge my experience wasn’t for naught.
If you’re an author and had experience with a book marketing professional, make sure to leave your comment below!