When I was doing horoscopes for free for friends and those in crisis, I would spend hours pouring over charts and my books. I cast predictions far into the future, preparing them for the best of times and worst of times. I even made a calendar for one person so she could track the planets on a daily basis.
Guess what? People treated all my hard work like a parlor game. They lost their horoscopes and asked for a repeat. I didn't keep copies and at this time computers didn't exist to save my work.
Later, when I needed money, I started charging $25 for a horoscope. Pretty cheap when you realize other astrologers charge at least $100 and give what seems to me generic readings. But people VALUED the charts I charged money for, believing them to be worth more. They didn't lose them, referred back to them and paid for updates. I realized this was human nature: the more one has to pay for something, the more valuable it is perceived to be.
Today, I give a lot of advice on marketing. I'm passionate about the subject. Marketing books, blogs, websites, other authors is, for me, a big part of the joy of being an author. I understand that many don't share my enthusiasm. They approach it with a negative mindset. It's WORK. For the shy, it's calling TOO MUCH ATTENTION to oneself. For those who aren't computer savvy, it's CONFUSING.
Call me Mary Sunshine, Pollyanna, an incurable optimist (I even find things to love about being in dialysis). ATTITUDE is everything. If you approach something expecting to hate it, you're gonna hate it. If you hear others complaining, you're going to resist. So, all the wonderful tips I gather on the Internet and even my own marketing secrets I'm willing to share often fall on deaf or plugged up ears.
Yet I find that when people pay through the nose to go to writing conferences to hear an “expert” lecture on the very same subject, suddenly it's embraced. Not that the marketing takes into account the individual. Not that people are worked with on a one-on-one basis. They aren't taught how to tailor the marketing to their specific book.
Buying a book on marketing is the same thing. Information is usually outdated by the time the book comes out. Much is info compile from sources anyone can gather on their own via the Internet. But again, when it's free, it's worthless.
I worked in detective division of the sheriff's department for 11 years. I'm trained to dig up leads. When social media took off, I scoured websites of authors and investigated sites they listed as their favorites. I put together lists of reviewers, interview sites and sites looking for guest bloggers. I wanted to share all of this and spare beginning authors from wasting time hunting it all down. I created the Posse. Again, a free service. Is it valued? I can name off many of the people who never bother to check their email anymore. You can bet if they were paying me they'd be sure they were getting their money's worth!
The worst advice I've heard comes from the “big” authors who are signed with big houses, pulling in big advances and have publicity machines backing them. They urge new authors to “forget about marketing and social media. Just concentrate on your writing.” Telling people to delay marketing until they have a book out makes about as much sense to me as ignoring your credit score until you go to buy a house. In this day and age when the competition is stiff and anyone with a computer can self-publish it all comes down to this: “He who markets best, succeeds.”
What happens when reality sets in is that some authors frantically hire a publicist to plug them into the system. Again, this is pretty generic and I, for one, delete posts that show up on my screen hawking their client's books. What unseasoned authors don't know is that they will pay more for their publicist than they will ever recoup in book sales. Someone makes money, but it isn't the writer.
In conclusion, I've concluded that people only value what they pay for. They are willing to give money to anyone ready to charge them for a speech, a book, a promotion. Humans are stubborn that way. Like the old adage says “You can lead a mule to water but you can't make it market.”
Now, pay Novel Spaces $20 for the privilege of reading this post!