Newton’s first law says essentially that an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest, unless an external force is applied to it. Just putting a book “out there” is the equivalent of setting it on a table. Books don’t start out “in motion” so an outside force—you, the marketer—must get it going or it will continue to sit there like a paperweight.
This has gotten me thinking about things I can do to initiate that kick-start when (yes, I say “when,” it’s much more optimistic than “if,” thank you very much) Finding Angel finally sees print. That brings in the second law of motion.
Newton’s second law is that equation we’ve all seen:
F = ma (Force = Mass x Acceleration)
The force with which a book is going to move has to do with the weight of marketing you put behind it. But look closely—it’s not just the weight that matters, it’s how much that weight is accelerating. That’s why getting hit with a baseball can knock you on your…rear…but something heavy that’s barely moving won’t budge you much at all.
If you decide you’re going to market through a thousand different means—Facebook, blogging, signings, etc, etc, etc—but spread yourself thin trying to do them all, you won’t have much acceleration. If you pick a few key things and really focus, you can accelerate like a speeding bullet, but in a smaller area. Both ways create force, so you have to pick which works best for you.
All the mass and acceleration in the world, though, is still not a guarantee. You see…
Newton’s third law says that all actions have an equal and opposite reaction. Think pushing on a wall—it doesn’t move, but you feel the pressure on your hand. The harder you push, the more pressure you feel. Which means if you push your book, something or someone will push back. There are authors competing for the same market. You’re going to get bad reviews. You’re going to have life issues vying for your time and marketing and writing may get shoved to the back burner. Call these things the friction of book sales acceleration.
In the world of physics, there are ways to reduce friction—one of them is polishing a surface until it is smooth. Same goes for reducing friction in the book-marketing world. Make sure your writing is the best it can be—polish it until it shines. Get great cover art. Write the best back-cover blurb you can.
Many authors get frustrated about the polishing stuff because we see so many well-selling published books that are not polished. Sometimes the stories under those rough surfaces aren’t even worth the polish, and it makes our blood boil. Well, that’s because the book has a big publishing house with a big marketing budget behind it—the ultimate force—and it overcomes friction. (And my personal hypothesis: stupid sometimes works like oil.)
If you don’t have a big house behind you, you have to think about marketing. It’s not something that can be haphazard, though. While there are no “laws” that book sales follow the way objects follow the laws of motion, if you put *no* force behind your book it is guaranteed to stay at rest.
So there you have it…Kat’s Newtonian analysis of book marketing. Next…How the process of DNA transcription can be used to describe….
JUST KIDDING! 😀