Guest Post: Indie Marketing is a Marathon

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David LeRoy,  Sept 18th, 2012
Author of The Siren of Paris.

Have you ever run a Marathon?  There are usu­ally two responses to this ques­tion.  One is yes, or I have always wanted to run one.  The other is to ques­tion the san­ity of the per­son ask­ing the ques­tion.  I sup­pose there is a third, and that is to ignore the ques­tion and change the topic.

Tra­di­tional pub­lish­ers usu­ally view mar­ket­ing the way sprint­ers approach the 50-yard dash.  The effort is intense, all out, for a very spe­cific dis­tance and short period of time.  For the author of a major release, press releases, inter­views, reviews of the book, guest appear­ances, and sign­ing are all coör­di­nated into a short win­dow of time.  The goal is to get as much expo­sure as soon as pos­si­ble, and this “launches the book.”  The tar­get mar­ket is reached and the copies are sold, sometimes.

Or some­times not.  Like sen­tence frag­ments, there are mistakes.

For the self pub­lished author, or 'indie author,” this approach to mar­ket­ing can pro­duce com­plete burn out and exhaus­tion.  First, few peo­ple who choose to self pub­lish a book today, through Ama­zon, Smash­words, or Nook, can afford to bankroll this kind of mar­ket­ing effort.  Sec­ond, there is a con­sid­er­able amount of ded­i­cated time required for this kind of push.  Finally, there can be a prob­lem of keep­ing the cam­paign organized.

I have run sev­eral half marathons, one marathon, and then one ultra marathon, because the marathon alone was not enough to con­vince me that I was crazy.  Peo­ple will often start the race sprint­ing, or run­ning at a pace which they can never sus­tain for the entire race, and then some­where around mile 18 you jog past them as they are walking.

You must know your pace to stay in this race.

When the start gun goes off, and run­ners start to pass you up, your ego or crit­i­cal voice will notice that you are not run­ning as fast as this per­son, or that run­ner.  It is nat­ural for us to com­pare our own per­for­mance to oth­ers and then make some kind of judgment.

I am not as fast as that one!  I can’t even run as fast as that guy!  I should be run­ning faster!  I could be much bet­ter!  Maybe… I should not be here?

The first chal­lenge is to tune out all this crit­i­cal neg­a­tive self-talk, com­par­ing your­self to oth­ers, and focus instead upon your own pace, which you know you can sus­tain for the next 26.2 miles.  It is not easy by the way, but essen­tial if you want to fin­ish this race.  Here is what that voice sounds like for the self-published author: "I am not sell­ing as many books as this other author.  I can’t even keep up with this author.  I should be sell­ing more book.s but I am not.  Maybe…I should just pull down this book and rewrite it to be more like what is selling?"

By com­par­ing your­self to some­one else, and beat­ing your­self up with “shoulds," you are los­ing your pace and try­ing to run faster than your train­ing pre­pared you to run.  And just like in a marathon, there is this mag­i­cal point where your body runs out of fuel, and it refuses to con­tinue to run at that pace.  Plus, if you throw in a few crit­i­cal reviews along the way, that call out your ego, it gets even worse.  It is called THE WALL.  After a few races where I had man­aged my fuel well, and kept going past the wall, I became a lit­tle too con­fi­dent and lazy on the next race.  Then, I hit the wall and hit it hard.

The wall is not fun.  Between var­i­ous minor hal­lu­ci­na­tions, my entire foun­da­tion of moti­va­tion col­lapsed, replaced by the most neg­a­tive psy­chol­ogy I had ever expe­ri­enced in my life, full of self-judgment, crit­i­cism, and doubt.  I became obsessed with the idea that I was the very last run­ner on the trail and every­one was just going to laugh at me as I crossed the fin­ish line in humil­i­a­tion.  Walk­ing had replaced run­ning, and I even had to pace my walk­ing because the urge to just sit down and stop blared inside my head like a fire engine siren.

Self-published authors are on their own in terms of effort.  There is no mar­ket­ing depart­ment or edi­tor to reach out to for encour­age­ment.  Your nonex­is­tent agent is not going to send flow­ers and choco­late to you after a neg­a­tive review.  So, in order to sus­tain the long-term self-motivation required to pro­mote your work, you must know your goal, the dis­tance, and the pace.

If you do too much, too soon and for too long, you will stop.  Most peo­ple fail to suc­ceed because they do stop; unaware of just how close they were to reach­ing their goal if they had only kept going.

Back to the start­ing line please.  The gun has fired, and the race is now on.  What you did not know before is that many of these run­ners have not entered a marathon, but a half marathon, so they are only going half the dis­tance you are run­ning.  And a few oth­ers are in the starter group for a 10k, and some for a 5k.  There are also run­ners who have never fin­ished a marathon, and this is the fifth or maybe even sixth try, because in the past they have dropped out or injured themselves.

We never know those things in real life.  Instead, we look out and make up some story in our heads, judg­ing our­selves against some­thing that's usu­ally not true. My advice to you about mar­ket­ing, my dear reader, is to learn to focus upon your pace, dis­tance and goal and tune out the oth­ers.  You are not run­ning their race, but your own.  It does not mat­ter how many more books they have sold, or what how their rank­ings at Ama­zon com­pare to your own.  What's impor­tant is that you stay in the race until you reach your goal.


David Leroy did exten­sive research on the Ger­man occu­pa­tion of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This his­tor­i­cal novel fol­lows the jour­ney of one Amer­i­can from med­ical stu­dent, to artist, to polit­i­cal pris­oner at Buchen­wald Con­cen­tra­tion Camp dur­ing World War Two.

Marc, a French born Amer­i­can stu­dent, never sus­pected that he would become trapped in Ger­man occu­pied France when he came to Paris in the sum­mer of 1939 to study art. While smug­gling a  downed air­man out of the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal, through the Paris resis­tance under­ground, his life is plunged into total dark­ness when some­one he trusts becomes a col­lab­o­ra­tor agent for the Gestapo. Marc then must fight to save his soul when he is ban­ished to the “Fog and the Night” of Buchen­wald, where he strug­gles with guilt over the con­se­quences of hav­ing his trust betrayed.

You can pur­chase The Siren of Paris in Kin­dle e-book for­mat from Ama­zon and learn more about this author and novel at

For more infor­ma­tion about this vir­tual book tour, please visit —–tour/

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