It should be no surprise that once you've written a book that you have to market it if you want people to know about it and hopefully buy it. This is something I knew going into this endeavor and despite my lack of marketing know-how, I jumped in with both feet. Some of those efforts have yielded some colorful feedback from those who crossed paths with my marketing exercises. Of them, there is one that has stood out with me and brings a giggle to my throat every time I think about it.
In today's society, social media marketing is a key area for any brand or product. If you don't have a social media presence for your brand or product then you might as well not exist. Likewise, you have to market that brand or product on social media to get anything out of it. When I started the process of getting my first book printed, I immediately set up a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram account. I posted updates to those pages infrequently at first but I was just starting and learning how to use social media for something beyond the general purpose of sharing photos and stories with my friends and family.
Through interactions and partnerships with different people and groups, I eventually learned the value of posting consistently with multiple posts a week. I started getting into a routine of posting at least 3 times a week to all of my pages. This helped me to gain a few new followers but growth was incredibly slow and no doubt that lack of exposure had an impact on sales. If nobody knew my books existed because nobody followed my page to see my updates then nobody would know to buy them.
I needed followers. Posting regularly wasn't enough. I need followers who would see those posts and hopefully either buy a book or tell someone else about it.
After talking with a few people who had been doing similar stuff online, it was said that one of the best ways to get new followers was to run ads. And luckily, running ads on social media is considerably cheaper than say a TV commercial or a radio ad. You can create an ad that costs $1/day on Facebook that will still go out to hundreds of people a day. I don't know about you but to me, that's cheap!
Another way to gain followers is to run contests. People love winning free stuff and they will follow pages that give things away. Naturally, there are certain rules about how you can run such contests on social media without running foul of their compliance standards or brushing against some laws but all the same, I was able to run a contest to give away a book to people who followed my page and commented on my post.
So how do you maximize the gains from ads and a contest? You run an ad for your contest!
That first contest and ad combo netted me about 100-150 new followers in the course of like 2 weeks not long after my first book was released. That was an amazing count considering when I launched the ad/contest I had barely 50 followers, mostly friends and family, in the 15 months since creating the profile and starting.
But of course, running an ad meant exposing my post to the masses who could also comment on the post. Most were fine. People played along with the contest by commenting with tags of friends or words of encouragement but others didn't leave kind remarks. Some simply posted inappropriate gifs or short expletives but others took the time to type out full thoughts. And one of those "thoughts" makes me chuckle still to this day.
The comment has long since been deleted because I delete all negative comments like that from my posts to spare those who want to interact with my profile the uncivilized responses from those who forget what social media is there for. Facebook may be free to use but it takes money to keep it active and Facebook makes its money by selling ads. Without ads like mine then Facebook would go offline and people would have to go back to Reddit and other dark corners of the Internet to complain about everything.
But I digress. The comment was "Thanks to the COVID lockdowns now every unemployed bum with a keyboard thinks he has the next bestseller." I remember taking a screenshot of that comment and sending it to my wife with the comment, "I guess he didn't bother to read my profile."
Now, there's nothing funny about this stranger's comment. What I find funny about it is its ignorance.
I am not now nor have I been in recent years unemployed at any point. COVID saw my industry have an increase in sales and activity, not a decrease. Because I work in IT security, as more industries shifted to remote work and schools turned to remote learning, our company had a record-breaking year for sales in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. My writing took a hit because I was working more than usual which left less time for writing, proofing, editing, working with my publisher, etc.
And a bum? I think not. I make decent money. I pay my bills. I take care of what needs to be taken care of. We don't live in a mansion, drive expensive cars, or wear designer clothes but that doesn't make me a bum. We have a nice house that fits our needs and our budget. My wife drives a new SUV. I drive an old truck because I rarely leave the house and don't need more than that for the 1 time every month or two I venture out on my own. We've filled our house with a variety of things that have value to others but most importantly value to us. I'm not some spoiled "rich kid" trying to use my inheritance or trust fund to become famous because I lack any marketable skills. I'm a skilled IT professional with years of experience in a highly competitive market. I'm far from a bum both financially and professionally.
I'm guessing the part about thinking a book I wrote could be a best seller is meant as something of a slam but I don't know why anyone would put out a book if they didn't think it was good enough to be a best seller. I looked at the guy's profile (it wasn't private) and he certainly never released a book or created anything of an artistic or creative nature so I'm not sure he understands why someone would publish a book, record a song/video, paint a picture, or produce anything you think others might enjoy.
But the biggest sign of ignorance in his comment that tickles me the most is his apparent lack of understanding of what goes into publishing a book.
Sure, my ad ran in 2020 during the height of the lockdowns but the process of taking my book from draft to retail started in early 2019, months before the country even heard the words "coronavirus" or "COVID-19". The fact that my book was released during the pandemic is completely unrelated to the actual pandemic. Of course, I know there are shortcuts people can take to self-publish directly with groups like Amazon that don't take much time to go from account creation to publication but still require the book to be written, edited, formatted, get cover art, and everything else. Those things take time. It isn't outside the realm of possibility to go from concept to published work within a few brief months but I'm certain that's not the case for the majority of books. To assume that this book was conceptualized, written, and produced all during the COVID lockdown shows that he did not bother to research the book or the author at all before jumping on his keyboard to display his ignorance. If he had, he would have seen where the book was in the process of being published long before he was quarantined along with the rest of the country and the many updates along the way over the months it took to bring that book to retail.
Of course, had he bothered to do that basic research then he likely would have also run across my bio or my page (which isn't private either) and seen that I was not unemployed or a bum.
The lockdowns were not pleasant for many of us, not me though - it didn't change anything for me other than my kid was home from school a lot more than usual. People were frustrated, scared, stressed, worried, on edge, all of that which meant that people's tempers were quick to flare and overreactions were all too common. Was this man's uneducated and ignorant comment just an effect of the quarantine and the mental strain it put on many or was he just a troll looking to spread his malcontent out of jealousy or boredom? I'll never know for sure. I chose not to engage him directly, and as I said earlier, I deleted the comment because it had no value or merit to the post. But of all the comments I've deleted, that one stands out as my favorite of the detractors.