Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Catch 22

It used to be so easy!

Publishing and selling books was a breeze back then, when I published my first book.
I didn't have to worry about marketing because the books sold themselves.

I published a book on the two selling sites that were available and the sales started popping up on my dashboard.
I posted the new release on social sites and on my website, and readers clicked to buy the book and if they liked it, shared the link with their friends.

Now the market is saturated and it's a no-win battle for authors to show their books to readers and sell a few copies.

What happened?

  • First of all, a lot of competitors happened. Everyone and their aunt started writing and publishing. Some of the books were great, but the majority... well, isn't. It's because the selling sites didn't check quality, only proper formatting and grammar. 
  • A lot of new selling sites formed and it was great at the beginning because it gave the authors and readers more choices.
  • But in a short time, so many books were published that aggressive marketing became a necessity. 
  • Then, the pirate sites started popping up. Ruthless people stole eBooks, stripped off the protection and converted the books to PDF to offer it free on their website. Some of them thought books should be free, others used the free downloads as baits to increase their website traffic.
  • Then the "book stuffers" came into light. They published "books" that were only a few chapters and filled hundreds of pages with repetitive garbage. They added a link at the beginning with a bait or promise that led the reader to the end of the book. The selling site algorithm then picked it up as hundreds of pages read and paid the cheaters for the pages read. Some of these so called "authors" had the nerve to boast about making thousands of dollars a month by cheating.
  • On social sites my book posts used to be shared by a lot of people and had hundreds of comments, but people burned out by the book advertisements and are tired of seeing book promo posts. When they see posts shared by their friends, they block the author pages.
  • Reader groups used to be great as well. Readers were happy to interact with authors and clicked on book links to buy the books. Now, mostly authors are tooting their own horns in groups and the posts rarely viewed and commented by readers.
  • Today there are thousands of book promo and marketing sites offering services for various prices. Some work, most doesn't because readers got used to getting books for free. Either from pirate sites or from authors competing with each other and giving their books away for free.
  • Marketing? It's harder than ever. A few years back when I did 99 cents promo days quarterly for my books, I had hundreds of sales. Now I have to pay and because authors who can afford high priced marketing keep raising the bids to be seen, those of us with limited budget stay behind. 

I touched only a few obstacles in the lives of authors today. It's not easy to bring the books to the attention of readers. Small publishers are struggling along with self-published authors because you know, the big fish eats the small ones.
~Erika M Szabo

Click on the link to visit my website and read about my books.
I write speculative alternate history fiction, romantic urban fantasy, historical suspense novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 2-14 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.