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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

Things I Wish I'd Known #7

No One Really Knows What Marketing Works

My new novel will be available Saturday (Old Light, Vagabondage Press, February 2020). It’s all about magic and witchcraft and how to live with an extra large portion of it in the modern world, despite someone or something being out to get you.

I’m excited. The drive to promote and market the book is strong. I’m fired up. My publisher is fired up. I’ve read all the guidance notes on marketing I can get my hands on. I’ve watched all the videos sent to me by my publisher about how to promote and market my new book and...

And I’m feeling guilty and something of a marketing failure because I can’t do it all. I don’t have the time or resources to do it all, and if I did I’d be a professional marketeer, not a writer.

So, before I beat myself up any further, I’m going to remind myself of something I’ve learned during the publication of my six previous books and wish I’d known from the outset: marketing is an art, not a science. Despite a multiplicity of marketing guides and gurus stating that you must do this and have to do that to guarantee book sales, there are no guarantees. Even the big, big publishers with their super-large marketing budgets (for selected books, at least) don’t really know why some books sell and some books don’t. If they did, every book they published would be a best seller and there would be no remaindered books.

Marketing, to me, feels like a big mud fight, only instead of mud there’s magic, glitter and fairy dust. Nevertheless, you chuck handfuls of the stuff at everything and anything and hope that some of it sticks. And, of course, some of it does and so you sell a few books and feel virtuous that you’ve done your bit to promote your latest grand opus. Yet, I’ve never worked out why some of it sticks and some of it doesn’t, or why what worked for the previous book, doesn’t necessarily work for the latest one, or why what is apparently working for the latest publication didn’t work for the previous six. Who knows? Given that the big publishing houses don’t seem to, I remain very cautious of the marketing gurus who want to sell you their version of PR heaven, along with their (frequently expensive) twelve-step programme for achieving a best seller. Then again, I’ve never achieved a best seller, despite my own personal combination of mud and fairy dust, so who am I to comment? Also, and with apologies to professional marketing types, I’m so not one of them.

I shall take all reasonable steps to support my publisher in promoting my shiny, new novel. I’m very excited by its publication and I really do want its story known, but I am not going to sweat it or beat myself up over it. At the end of the day, it seems no one really knows what marketing works and what doesn’t. They can only tell you what has worked for them in the past. I’ll let you know what, if anything, has worked for me and Old Light in twelve or more months’ time. Who knows which element of marketing magic is going to work this time round?

Next month: the final installment


Old Light, the second novel in the Witchlight series by J.S.Watts, is published by Vagabondage Press (2020). ISBN: 978-1-946050-20-5

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