My proverbial "gears" were already in motion before I read Brendan P. Myers' recent blog on the Futility of Marketing. He lays it out very neatly.
"Traditional" advertising doesn't sell books. Word of mouth sells books.
So how, dear reader, does one get his/her book to be the topic of said "word of mouth"?
I've clicked on "read my novel, BAD TITLE HERE, at INTERNET BOOK SITE" links on Twitter only to drown in lousy writing after a sentence or two. Self-publishing crap and then asking people to read it isn't really going to help win readers. Besides, the only people who might have clicked on the link were already "following" the nitwit in question. I'm not getting down on Twitter here, just noticing that 90% of the chuckleheads who Tweet their stuff seek followers for self-promotion and nothing else. Personally, that turns me off faster than a power outage during a tornado. I don't want to be that guy.
If you're going to be your own word of mouth, I expect people (readers) need to trust you (and don't you dare break that sacred bond) and you have to be pimping something damn good. Personally, I don't think a writer can be his/her own word of mouth. Not in the traditional: read this because it is made of awesome sort of way. When is the last time you grabbed a book off the shelf and read it because the author of said book touted how great it was? In the real world, nobody blurbs his/her own stuff. So really, the only hope is to plant the right seeds and wait to see what grows. The right seeds? Quality stories. Entertainment. Writing that transcends. Writing in which you can't see the writer's fingerprints, but you can see the beauty of his/her imagination.
Yes, I've spent a good deal of time thinking about how to market my books. They won't be in bookstores (anywhere save local places which love to carry local authors). Every sale--and more importantly, reader--must be won from the masses involved in a crazy free-for-all battle royal.
For some readers, digesting a book is more than a passing thing. On Brendan's blog, I contrasted reading a novel to eating a cheeseburger (think about how each is marketed differently). I'm sad to say I probably eat more cheeseburgers than I read novels in an average year, but I don't talk about the burgers much after they're gone. The good books, the really special books, linger. I can't push them out of my mind (or from the tip of my tongue). I want to tell everybody: read this book. I talk (and blog) about them years later. The really great ones, I teach (when I'm lucky). The emotional investment is huge--much bigger than it is with a burger. A good book becomes part of you forever. A cheeseburger doesn't stick around after a few hours (if you're lucky).
So, yeah. I hope I have the good, lingering type of material for you, dear readers. I hope you'll give my work a chance. If I've lived up to my part of the bargain, I hope you'll pass on the book. And those other writers...well, they won't bake you cookies, will they?
I just might.