I've read so many articles on author branding and I feel like every article misses the point.
Do you want to know the real reason why everyone doesn't buy your book? Because it's universally true for every single book that isn't selling well.
You can't control how many people like you (or anything that you do.)
People use the word "marketing", but it feels like a PC version of the word "popularity contest." All artists are desperate to be popular and well-liked, which is a confusing feeling for authors because the majority of us are introverts.
There's ways you can make it more likely for people to like you, by giving them something they might want (like chocolate, for example) rather than something they hate (like a punch in the face.) But giving people something nice doesn't guarantee that they'll like you and being mean doesn't guarantee that they'll hate you.
Same with writing a good book or a bad book.
Life is about the connections you have, which is why if you're close to a rich or successful person, you are more likely to succeed. And it's about the chances people give you, like if people recommend you to other people, then you are more likely to be chosen than if you are the only person recommending yourself.
If you don't make an effort, then you for sure won't succeed. But if you do, you're not guaranteed to succeed.
Everyone works hard, but not everyone gets what they want.
And it's time people recognize this. It's time you let go and accept yourself.
What happens too often is that most writers get on an endless self-hatred cycle. Their books aren't succeeding, so they keep beating themselves up and beating themselves up.
All these authors make these checklists. "This is what you need to do to sell books." But they're wrong.
People say not to be opinionated or talk about controversial things. So how do they explain, Stephen King?
People say to use lots of critique partners and editors. But then how do they explain, E.L. James? (Although it's good to get an editor and learn more about the written word, so you can wield it perfectly. It's like having a sword and sharpening it before battle, so you can kill more people.)
They say you need a good cover, but I've seen people become NYT Bestsellers whose first covers were made in MS Paint.
People say that you can't be so impatient and that it's not about instance gratification, but people become NYT Bestsellers after publishing their first books all the time.
Whenever you are down in life or struggling, people will find a way to make it your fault. They'll try to explain it away, so that the world and the universe is always fair, but it's not.
I just noticed that a lot of people who feel like invisible authors, who are always trying and never getting noticed, feel very discouraged and are sometimes really hard on themselves.
But writing books is like making friends or dating. You can't make people like you, but you can be vulnerable and put yourself out there and eventually you will find that maybe you have what you always wanted to have.
But being vulnerable is hard. Anyone who is vulnerable will be rejected a lot of times. And that's what makes authors, even invisible ones brave. Because they keep putting themselves out there, no matter what people say or do.
Just understand that you can know everything about marketing and still not succeed. That's why many books that make it to publishing houses fail. Those are supposed to be the people who know everything.
My last two books took me two years of rewriting and listening to critique partners before I published them. I had learned so much about marketing and I made sure to get just the right book covers and everything. I even advertised on only sights that I saw bestsellers advertising on.
And it didn't make things better. In fact, so far, my new books made pretty much zero dollars, which is why I made both of them free because they weren't making money anyway. People are still only buying my old books.
I wasn't confident when I wrote them, I didn't trust my own instincts, and that is a mistake.
Trust and believe in yourself. Don't be afraid to be the true you, faults and all on social media. Don't be afraid to be the true you, imperfect writing and all. Just do the best you can and accept yourself.
Art has a problem where artists aren't considered good unless they are constantly criticizing and abusing themselves, which is actually an unhealthy mindset to have. When you look at the successful artists, they aren't like that. They're confident in themselves and their decisions and that confidence helps them be brave enough to take risks and make mistakes.
No one is ever going to validate you. You have to believe in yourself first if you want anyone else to believe in you.