Spam, More Spam, and Spamatizers!TM
by Marcus A. Nannini
About one year ago, I set my email filters to send everything to spam except for messages from senders who were in my address book. Each day since then, I awake to a handful or meaningful emails and scores of emails in my spam folder.
As we all know, our various search parameters are picked up by Google, Microsoft, etc. The result is a great deal of email solicitation directed toward the subjects of our online searches. The number one topic of my spammed emails is book marketing. I must receive 50 emails each day from sources attempting to obtain my money in exchange for advertising my books with them.
Sometimes I will open one of the SpamaztizersTM* if they appear to offer a particularly unique approach. If I get that far, I copy and paste the link of the spam/advertiser (SpamatizerTM in my lingo) into my favorite Google Page Ranker. The results are most often a page rank of: ZERO out of 10!
On occasion, the page rank might be as high as 2, and once in a great while, 3. In each event I take a look at how old the website is and how it is rated in various sub-categories. So far, there is only one SpamatizerTM website I have not discarded; instead, I monitor it every couple of months because I think the hostess of the site has a good product. I am simply unwilling to spend my time, let alone my money, on a startup, because no matter how well the website is put together, there is simply not enough traffic to warrant an expenditure of time and money until their page ranking is at least a 4.
Exposure is what book marketing is all about, and that’s where I have found Laura Orsini to be a great source of practical knowledge in this area. I can say, first-hand, that dozens of outstanding reviews from sources all over the English speaking universe doesn’t really translate into sales unless the reviews come from a major news publication or broadcast.
The sales of my first novel, Chameleons, an Untold WW II Story, took off in New Zealand, Australia, and…of all places, Moscow. I discovered reviews sourced from those locations had made their way into some news outlets. More than 50 percent of the book’s sales have come from those remote regions.
But how does a person get in front of a the book editor at major paper in New York, D.C. or LA? As a rule-of-thumb, an author needs a topflight literary agent to open those doors. I despise literary agents as a group, so there is no chance in Hades I will solicit one. However, my UK and USA based publisher has its own PR department, along with an impressive worldwide distribution network. So that is how I plan to get my two nonfiction books reviewed: my publisher will handle it.
But what about my novels? What about your books? Those are the questions I work on every week. I have been reading the weekend Wall Street Journal and Sunday New York Times, seeking out reviewers of novels in my genre and dropping those reviewers my emailed comments regarding their reviews. Patience, it was once said, is the only difference between a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate. Patience coupled with extensive research is, in my opinion, the key to landing your book in front of someone with clout.
But, you ask, how do I know they’ll read it once they have it? Clearly, there are no guarantees, but the goal is for them to recognize your name from the couple dozen emails you have sent them commenting on their reviews. Name recognition is a key. And what works for authors also applies to literary agents, as simply claiming to be a literary agent is no guarantee of that person’s ability to place their client’s book in front of a major reviewer.
As it stands today, I do not know if I will succeed in obtaining a major reviewer for my novel series. It is a work-in-progress, and I have the patience to see it through. But it least I have a game plan.
Here is something of interest I learned this summer about The New York Times. According to my publisher, the Times does not review books printed outside the USA. I learned that when I asked my editor, based in Oxford, UK, why my author’s contract was with the USA division.
I am in the market for a larger publisher with respect to my continuing mystery/thriller novel series and am now focusing only on US-based publishers as a result of what I learned.
There are exceptions to just about every rule, and the same applies to my US-only search. The exceptions are the Big Five publishing companies because they have divisions operating all over the world. Those divisions often offer a back-door opening to landing my/your book in front of one of their acquisition editors. Those back doors exist and, as with most things, it becomes a matter of whether your book is on a topic that particular editor is looking for at that particular time – or one he or she might be especially fond of.
My publisher states in no uncertain terms that I am not expected to perform any marketing other than letting my friends and family know about the books when they are published. Of course, I don’t just sit around. Instead I have taken my marketing research to the various media located in the countries where the action in the books takes place. Fortunately for me, my two new books coming out in 2019 have elements in common, so my work on the first one will pay off for the second one.
For example, if my protagonist is of Polish background, I would be sending an email, both in Polish and English, to every bookstore in Poland making them aware of the book. You might be surprised how many of them will pick up the English language version and, in the process, create a demand for a Polish language version. Think “international rights fees.” If I have the budget, I will send a simple first class mailing to each bookstore for better impact.
I have my list of bookstores set to go. All I need is my publishing date and a book cover to use. I will let you know how it works out.
So have you garnered a couple score worth of excellent book reviews, but your book sales do not match up? I’d sit down with Laura for an hour or two and discuss the situation. It will be worth every penny!
Good reviews generally reflect good writing, and good writing is still at a premium today. So first, take heart in the reviews. Second, convert them into sales for your current book and the ones to follow.
*SpamatizersTM are spam emails directed at topics the recipient recently has been researching on the web; their goal is to get the recipient to open the spam and spend money.
Marcus Nannini began his journalistic career when he published his own newspaper in the sixth grade, charging 25 cents for the privilege of reading the only printed copy of each edition. During his undergraduate years, Nannini was a paid reporter and worked three semesters as the research assistant for journalism professor and published author Richard Stocks Carlson, Ph.D. Nannini is a life-long history buff with a particular interest in World War II and the Pearl Harbor attack. His continuing curiosity over several Japanese aerial photographs and the turtling of the U.S.S. Oklahoma lead him to write Chameleons, first as a screenplay and now as a full-length novel.