Where Should You Be Selling Your Books?

When I was a kid my brothers and I played a board game called Risk. The goal was to conquer the world. This is our goal as writers, so it's a good analogy, right?

The board was a map of the world. Each player started on one continent with a number of armies. Rolls of the die determined the outcomes of battles, introducing a certain element of chance, but good strategy usually triumphed.

One concept my younger brother never grasped was that one big army defending his borders was stronger than 3 or 4 small ones. But he liked spreading things out, so he'd have 4 armies each in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia rather than putting all 12 in Mexico.

Our older brother would come down through Texas with 6 armies and blow through like Santa Ana. Or whoever would have been blowing from the north.

Like Butter Spread Over Too Much Toast

Spread too thin—it's never a good thing. Some efforts require focus, persistent effort.

Too many authors are on the constant lookout for one more place to advertise their books. If they can be everywhere, listed on every possible site and included in every possible social network, they'll sell by the power of ubiquity.

The effort is unsustainable. Spread too thin, they'll end up doing a mediocre job everywhere. Ubiquitous, to be sure. But still invisible. (We'll chat another time about how looking for the perfect place to sell = the worst plan possible: "waiting to be picked".)

Being in a Small Pond Makes You the Big Fish

If you only have 12 armies to defend your turf, put them all in one place.

If you only have 24 hours in a day, don't try to maintain 24 different marketing avenues.

Doing 1 well is far superior to doing 3 poorly. Sure, if you have time to invest heavily in 3 marketing tools, networks, bookselling sites, super. I'm not suggesting anyone hold back as if being everywhere were necessarily negative.

It's just that being everywhere isn't automatically positive, either.

Spread yourself on thick. One thing well. Look up the story of the fox and the hedgehog: the fox knows many tricks, the hedgehog one—but it's a good one.

One good trick, as big and thick as you can manage.

What do you think?