I have been reading The Tipping: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. It made me wonder about book marketing. Not only because he writes about the example of how Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells started to gain popularity through book clubs despite its otherwise slow start, but also because of the understanding that the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of the context can play an important role to get your book to spread wider. What stroke me interesting was when he wrote about the gradual change in how we think about emails. At first, when they were a novel thing, there was some excitement receiving one, and we took time to answer, but now as our emails are not only for our friends, relatives, and business associates but they are revenues for marketing and full of junk mail, we feel indifferent and swamped. I think this same tiredness transfers to book marketing.
If we all do the same thing and use the same channels (which are crowded already with other marketing materials), then how anyone of us will be seen or heard? Do we have to resort to gimmickry or pay lots of money to be the most visible indie writer there is? Or if Malcolm Gladwell is right, we only have to find our own mavens, connectors, and salesmen who spread our book onward with passion and love. Or find a niche place to start our marketing, instead of shouting at Twitter, Facebook, BookBub, Amazon, Goodreads, or Reddit which are already being overcrowded by self-publishers and traditional publishers. But how?
Malcolm Gladwell writes that word of mouth is the best way to start a movement. So, as a writer and self-publisher, I have to find one person or a group that find my book fascinating and hope that they spread it onward. If I remember correctly, that is how Hugh Howey got his book Wool to spread. One of his relatives took great interest in his book and recommended it to everyone she knew (was she a connector and a maven?) But the times were different then. Self-publishing was just starting to grow. There wasn’t as much competition as there is now. Yet, I think there is a point here even when times have changed with self-publishing and despite Tipping Point has received criticism about oversimplification and misreading the examples and their causes. If you or I want to be seen, we cannot follow what everyone else does. That feels to me like drowning in the stream of white noise. I have tried to keep my head over the water, but it keeps tipping down, taking away energy from my writing. And nothing I do feels like a tipping point which will help sell my book. There has to be another way. (But what?)
I think I will have to come up with a new strategy. A way to find my niche. It will not be easy. Not when I have an aversion (read social anxiety) to interacting with others. Not when I’m tired all the time. Writing and trying to make it in this business isn’t easy. There are days when I want to quit, but then I remember there is nothing else for me to do, and I go on. If there was an easy way out, sometimes I think I would take it. At least it would make my life easier than trying to find mavens, connectors, salesmen, and my niche. But I guess anything worth aspiring to isn’t easy, and it needs that 10 000 hours of dedication sprinkled with luck to work.
Sorry about my ramble. If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s books, next time you see one pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you for reading, have a nice weekend!