Think the success of the great novel you are working on is all about the writing? Think again if you want to have a successful book launch.
BookBaby has published the results of a survey which they describe as such: “The 2017 Self-Publishing Survey conducted by BookBaby was focused specifically on revealing the most successful book marketing and promotional strategies for self-publishers. The 56-questions survey targeted two subgroups: authors who have published at least one book (either self-published, traditionally published, or both), and aspiring authors who have not yet published a book. The online survey was conducted between October 24, 2016 – November 28, 2016, and was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors.”
Full disclosure: BookBaby sells services to indies, so they have a vested interest in the results of their survey. And I have no affiliate or any other relationship with BookBaby. I have no opinion about the quality of their services or the fees they charge.
Final caveat before the punchline: In a few spots, I think the authors run together correlation and causation (for instance, successful authors tend to have more audio books…well, duh…that is because they cost ~$1000 or more to create, so of course, more successful authors also have the money to spend on such things). So read the report critically.
I’m not going to steal all their thunder. If you want to see the full results yourself, for your email they will send you the 16-page PDF. Go to this link.
If you are an aspiring writer, it is worth your email address to read.
In my words, and to summarize, across about 30 categories of activities authors can undertake to ramp sales of their book — from soliciting reviews, to contracting for professional services, to using book giveaways, and many more — the difference between the two groups BookBaby divided their respondents into (those who had made over $5K and those who had made less than $100) came down to one thing.
That one thing was everything: In all but one category, successful authors out worked and out spent (invested) to achieve success than did those who earned less than $100 in book sales. I’ve written about many of these things before and what I did to ramp the sale of my first book: My 6 Most Popular blogs of Fast and Easy Book Marketing and Promotion Tips
The one category in which the low earners outperformed high earners in the BookBaby survey? Asking friends and family for reviews, which is largely a waste of time.
One of the things most interesting about the survey is what it does not cover. There is almost zero discussion about the quality of the writing as a factor for a successful book launch. That does not mean story quality (for lack of a better word) does not matter. I think the authors of this report would admit that it matters to a tremendous degree. However, they make their money on selling services no matter how good or bad the story is, so it is not in their financial interest to turn away any customer willing to pay for their services.
For anyone wanting to self-publish a novel, it is an interesting read, if not profound. It makes clear that those of us going the indie route have a tough path ahead if we hope to be successful. Traditional publishing has its own tough path, but I prefer the indie route because I actaully like working on this stuff. And becasue if I fail I’ll have no one else to blame.