Wow, lots of great of great comments on yesterday’s post. Those are really helpful ideas. I have to agree with Patty about the branding. In fact, as soon as I published the post, that’s something that occurred to me.
Authors become brands. We have to work at it, but in general, people begin to follow an author they like. The author’s books, even if they are all discrete novels with unique settings and characters, will tend to appeal to the same kind of people. This builds on itself until, for most people, the author’s name is the search term they use when looking for a book.
I do this far more often than I “browse” for just any book. I’ll search for Connie Willis or Jack McDevitt, or Julie Czernada. I wouldn’t necessarily find their books while searching by subject.
Quick aside: I just went to Amazon and typed in “black plague” and “time travel.” Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book was the third hit. So sometimes it DOES work. But note that searching just under “black plague” would not return her book.
To paraphrase a cliche, perhaps I’ve found a problem mountain that’s really just a molehill. As time goes by, assuming I continue to write, and publish, more and better books, people will eventually recognize my brand. They’ll think, “I want to read a Marlene Dotterer book,” and they’ll go look on Amazon to see if I have anything new.
So part of marketing is allowing the time needed to build the brand. Write a lot of books. Write good books, so people will enjoy them and talk about them. As time goes by, the author’s name becomes familiar to more people. Time as in years, not a few months.
True, that’s not all an author needs to do. Active advertising is necessary, whether its paid ads in newspapers or magazines, appearances at cons, book signings, blogging… whatever. If I want Titanic aficionados to read my book, I need to get the word out to them that it exists. I can’t sit back and wait for them to search for Titanic books on Amazon.
Mind you, I never thought I could do that. I was just surprised at how poorly it works.
And as Rhonda and Jesse pointed out, titles can’t be picked to better utilize a search algorithm. It’s much more important for the title to speak to the character of the book, and to entice the reader. If you can include a useful subject term in the title, so much the better. But it can’t be your main goal.
So we pick the best title we can, tweak all the metadata and tags, and advertise… and give the readers time to find us and get to know us, and talk about our books. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan business, is it?