As you’ve no doubt noticed, I’m a bit whorish when it comes to promoting my own work. Why else would I have spent Q1 writing about booze and sex? So far my goal for 2012 has been liquoring you up before introducing you to a girl who wants you to dip your fish fingers into her custard. In case I’m being too subtle – go buy my geek books about drinking and dating.
Meanwhile, in order to pay the rent, I’ve quietly landed some ghostwriting gigs. I find the stuff I’m writing about utterly fascinating, but due to very understandable NDA’s I can’t say a word about it, much less go around pimping the books. That’s a darn shame. Trust me. They’re awesome.
While I can’t talk about them, I both can and do creepily stalk those books on Amazon. I feel understandable pride in their rankings. C’mon, baby. Climb up those sales charts. Mama wants a new contract. At the same time, part of me really wants to see one of my books surge past the ghostwritten titles. Go indie book readers! Prove quality matters! Alas, nothing I’ve written under my own name comes close to the sales rankings of my ghostwritten titles.
I consider this proof that marketing matters. Peel off the cover and these books all share the same author, same skill, and same attention to the subject at hand. The ghostwritten topics are carefully chosen based on most marketable subjects rather than stuff I happen to find interesting. The subjects fall neatly into top level categories on Amazon, making them easier for readers to find. (Trust me, you have to really dig before you find dating books.) The content owners have websites promoting the books, a good social media strategy, and some very nicely targeted online advertising.
This naturally makes me wonder about my own time management. I committed to writing a book a month in 2012. So far I’m right on schedule. I could set up websites or blogs for each book and tackle an aggressive social media campaign for marketing. Or I could write the next book.
There really aren’t enough hours in the day to do both. Once I finish a ghost manuscript an entire team of people goes to work making it profitable enough to keep us all employed. It’s fascinating to watch. Even if I stopped writing and put all my time into marketing my existing work I couldn’t come close to everything they do. It’s impressive and intimidating.
Ghostwriting isn’t just paying my rent. It’s teaching me a lot about what generates success in the various ebook platforms. I’ve seen plenty of blogs where indie authors say you don’t need a marketing campaign. Just keep churning out titles. Eventually enough critical mass will form around your name that you’ll cross a threshold into profitability. Marketing is just a short cut.
Maybe the indie authors are right. From what I can see, though, marketing is a pretty darn profitable short cut. Honestly, I’m grateful there’s such a demand for fresh ebooks. Thirty years ago, if I wanted to make a living ghostwriting, I’d be writing porn. Instead, I get to learn about awesome NDA protected stuff I can’t talk about instead of embarrassing snuff I won’t admit to.