Why So Many Writers Fail At Internet Marketing: Priceless Wisdom For Selling Your Book Online

rp_jump.jpgFor me, jumping into Internet marketing was like jumping into a dark pit of danger and the unknown; I had spent so many years developing my ability to write a book, but I had no idea of how to sell one. Learning the trade involved so many different jargonistic terms that intimidated me and that I didn’t understand, so many fraudulent “gurus” with false promises to avoid, etc. There were so many moments where I felt like giving up, like so many do, but this article will shed a little light on why I didn’t, why you shouldn’t either, and some of the biggest pitfalls to watch out for that will drain your morale and rack your nerves, no matter how deep your willpower is.

Many People Make The Mistake Of Attracting Quantity Over Quality

Facebook LikesVanity metrics are exactly what they sound like: “vanity” in reference to one’s appearance, and “metrics” pertaining to what is measurable. Social media marketing firms typically base their guarantees, contracts, and results on traceable and verifiable analytics, such as how many followers they have/get. Many social media companies and marketers, in their efforts to project a false image of authority and superiority, invest thousands of dollars inflating their web presence with lifeless followers that neither interact, message, comment, nor otherwise participate in any way within that website’s so-called community.

…but the visual numbers of them look good to the uneducated laymen who would be awed by such a display of a what would seem like a large following at first glance.

These firms will also promise the same results to these unwitting clients…and those firms will deliver. But it’s a pity that the unsuspecting client will then pay the firm top dollar for these vanity metrics, not knowing their true value, which is zero. Yeah, they’ll feel highly satisfied…at first, maybe even long enough to write a great review about the company…but then, at some point, they begin to realize that all of those likes and followers aren’t actually buying anything (which would, in your case, be your book)…because they’re merely what I call “ghost-likes”.

And ghost-likes only ever equate to ghost-sales, which can buy ghost-food to put on your spectral dining room table…but you’re not a ghost are you?

…didn’t think so. And neither is your landlord.

ShockedThe victim, upon finally having the cold and unforgiving iron anvil of awareness suddenly drop on their skull as if they were a Looney Toon, comes to the heart-crushing realization that they’ve just wasted thousands of dollars for a service that provided little to no ROI (Return On Investment), and can’t sue or demand a refund…because they did get likes, and those likes are verifiable by credible third-party dashboards, such as Facebook and Google Analytics, which means the firm that they contracted did technically and officially fulfill their end of the contract, in the eyes of a court of law. Therefore, the case would be dismissed—and the fraudulent marketing company would be free to take advantage of others, while the victim would be left bereft of untold amounts of money, time, and emotions.

I, on the other hand, never focus on vanity metrics in order to make myself look bigger than what I am with a bunch of followers that don’t really engage with me, and I highly recommend that you don’t either.

I myself made the very same mistake when I first published my first book and discovered how easy it is to advertise on Facebook—only I was the moron who accidentally did it to himself.

I didn’t hire a faulty firm; I naively thought to myself: “I’ll advertise my book to everyone! Gain thousands of likes! Then I’ll be as big as J.K. Rowling! Because if every person who likes my page buys my book, then theoretically leave ads up 24/7, 365, and just rake in money automatically, right?”

…wrong. Dead wrong. 

Though, in theory: if everyone who clicked on my ad bought my book, and the proceeds of each sale from each click were higher than the price of each click, then yes, I would have therein discovered an overnight self-perpetual system of money-making. But reality isn’t so smooth; in that scenario, I would have been able to just leave the ads up, and watch my bank account multiply in digits…but those kinds of systems are myths. The stuff of unicorns. Lies. Scams. And anyone promoting those to you, trying to sell that kind of a dream to you, is a fraud.

Get away from them immediately.

While there are some rare few fortunate people in the world, like some niche Youtube video-gamers, who build their followings from simply uploading videos of themselves doing what they love, like playing popular games; that doesn’t mean that they’re masters of the discipline itself. Those people didn’t actually study Internet marketing; they just so happened to have made a video or two about a game for which its keyword was already traffic-heavy, woke up one day, looked at their account, and then realized they had gained several thousand followers overnight somehow.

By repeating the process, they therein repeat those results (and more power to them), but they’re not Internet marketers; they’re Internet personalities, piggy-backing on the trail that the real Internet marketing strategists blazed. It’s not them that made the game popular; it’s the game that made them popular. But no one would care or even know about the game if it wasn’t for the team of marketing strategists working behind the scenes at the game developer, who would have designed and executed the needed strategy, putting in the hours and undertaking the risks, to raise the popularity of the game to begin with.

Though I acknowledge that it’s not easy being a steady personality either, that they also work hard in their own way: take those same people away from the keywords of the highly trafficked games that they didn’t develop or strategize for, and tell them to repeat those same results, from ground zero, for any other completely unrelated product—like baby wipes or something.

…yeah, not going to happen. Unless they themselves also dedicate the time and effort it takes to study the craft itself.

Mastering Internet marketing in such a way that you can build a following for any product (such as your book) at will is not that easy. There is no secret to Internet marketing other than intelligent strategic thinking, patience, the willingness to work and the courage to invest in calculated risks. Forget what else you heard. You want proof? You’re reading it right now—the thoughts of a man that could only have been put in such a way from hard-earned experience.

Most People Can’t Handle The Risk-Taking

Internet MarketingAn article, written by The Telegraph, claims that the term “Internet marketing” can be confusing. On the one hand, it refers to the legitimate promotion of products and services on the web as done by thousands of companies every day. However, it also refers to a sprawling unregulated industry that offers to help ordinary people start online enterprises and make money (Robinson, 2014).

In his article, Robinson also goes on to articulate how only a very small percentage of people actually make real money in Internet marketing. But this is not because Internet marketing is, in itself, a scam; it’s an honorable trade that requires training like any other.

It’s just that Internet marketing is an excruciatingly expensive trade to make mistakes in. Just one mistake (like the one I made when I was a newbie) can cost you thousands of dollars (or more) without any clear explanation of when, where, why, or how you may have screwed up, which is why legitimately skilled Internet marketing strategists are extremely rare—because anyone can study the theory of Internet marketing, but it takes some real guts (or brash stupidity, in my case) to actually put your own money on the line to learn from experience, especially if you were just a lower-middle class just-breaking-the-poverty-line veteran college student with debt to pay, such as I was.

This is why so few honest people succeed: they either know what the risks are, but cowardly opt for the fraudulent and expensive quick fixes which ultimately get them nowhere…or they make their first real multi-thousand dollar mistake, curse the trade, and quit—instead of holding strong and maintaining their equanimity while focusing on the facts: that almost every website they visit is making money somehow (from the titans like eBay, to the small fry blogs).

That is Internet marketing. And that’s not a scam.

Thus there is a way; it’s just neither quick, easy, nor cheap.

In my personal experience (which I’m aware may differ from others): mastering the skill of strategic Internet marketing, the way that I did, can be compared to mastering how to count cards at blackjack. Blackjack is all about calculated risk-taking, and so is Internet marketing.

Only, in card games, you can teach yourself much within the safety of your own home, investing only a couple dollars for a deck or three of cards, maybe $13 for a book that you can order from Amazon on the different methods of how to do it (like the +1; -1 method), and the time it takes to practice (I know this, because I actually tried. Shh…). You can fail as many times as your heart desires without fear, but you can relax knowing you’re not going to lose any money unless you actually go to the casino while still incompetent—but you at least have some kind of safe zone to make harmless mistakes in: with friends in your house, or wherever.

True, white hat, Internet marketing, on the other hand, …is an all-in or all-out experience. Like blackjack, there’s a lot to calculate, but there’s no middle ground. No safe zone. You pay to play, even to practice, and if you lose…you lose. Even if you play from your house.

That’s usually too much for the average person to handle, which is why the average person can’t do it (at least not with high success). Which is why I have a job now: consulting people, designing their strategies, and making their calculated decisions for them.

My Early Struggle With Internet Marketing

MistakeWhen I made my first major mistake with book marketing, what ended up happening was that, like an idiot, I winded up blowing a couple thousand dollars in PPC (pay-per-click) ads.

Though, yes: people did like my page; my CTAs were effective; lots of people liked my page. Over two thousand, in fact, in about a week.

…yet not a single one of them bought my book.

A couple grand. Down the drain. Cast to the wind. Just like that. Poof.

At first, as likes were coming in, I had a huge rush to my ego; I thought, “This is it! It’s working! This isn’t so hard! Anybody can do this!”

But in actuality, I had cast too wide of a metaphorical net in the way that I approached my marketing, being completely oblivious to the varying perspectives of demographic groups, trust factors, how to go about nurturing leads, etc. And along with that, I didn’t have any content plan, or branding strategy. I thought it was merely as simple as: step 1, publish the book; step 2, advertise the book.

While in a way, that is all there is to it, traditionally speaking…but precisely how to go about doing both 1 and 2 correctly, especially in this day of the information age, actually requires an astronomical amount of thought, coupled with a deep understanding of the many demographic groups that exist and how they would react to such advertising. In my case, it required years of trial, error, and embarrassment, as well as following and reading the blogs of other legitimate and successful Internet marketers—analyzing what they did to succeed, hundreds of hours reading a ton of books in my personal time, dedicating my entire GI Bill funding to a college degree majoring in Internet marketing from Full Sail University, as well as hiring professional consultants such as Stephen Bateman, the lead content marketing strategist of smartinsights.com (whom I paid nearly $150 per hour to teach me, who still mentors me to this very day that this article was written).

…and I was not rich. Just dedicated. Willing to work. Willing to risk. Willing to lose. Willing to take hits, and fall off the horse only to keep on trying.

Remember, this was years before I actually took up Internet marketing as a full profession to build a company off of; I was just a common writer like any other, uncommon only in my willingness to take risks with money. Most writers are afraid to spend a single dime on their books, which can be equally as damning, despite whatever conventional wisdom you may hear. The trick is to use your head, think for yourself, question both schools of thought, thus enabling you to find what works for you, and you alone—because there is no single correct path.

The only correct path to take in Internet marketing is the one that works for you, and I can continue to help you to find that path if you choose. Most self-published writers don’t have the budget and opportunity to go through the learning curve that I went through on their own, nor do they have the budget to hire an entire professional team.

Therefore, if you’d like to benefit from my knowledge, wisdom, and experience, schedule a free appointment to speak with me one-on-one. Yes, me, Michael Norton, directly.

Other than that, I recommend that you read this article called: “How To Drastically Increase Your Chances Of Getting Signed By A Publisher“.



  1. Robinson, D. (2014, April 02). ‘You can make six figures’ – we test internet marketing claims. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/10734647/You-can-make-six-figures-we-test-internet-marketing-claims.html
Michael Norton
Michael is the bestselling author of Fighting For Redemption, as well as an award-winning essayist, Internet marketing strategist, and mechanical engineer.

Visit his personal blog at NortonsMind.com.
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