Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Indie life: lessons in self-promoting

Welcome to Indie Life -- the second Wednesday of the month! Time to talk about the realities of self-publishing in the middle of the ongoing sea change that ebooks have wrought.

It's not easy. I've been self-publishing since November 2012 and I've learned this much, so far:

Blog tours
Now that I've done several of them -- one through a paid service, the rest on my own -- I have to say that their effectiveness is questionable. I've only had one or two sales that I'm fairly certain were because of my blog touring.

Neither were because of the paid service, either. I am very skeptical of those. The one I used posted my interviews on public-reporting sites that generate metric tons of mediocre journalism daily -- sure, big name news agencies occasionally glean something from there, and sure there's a tiny chance somebody would stumble across me. But, seriously?

I am a member of both the Magic Appreciation Tour and the Blog Tour Exchange. Through them, I get contacts to blogs of people with similar interests to mine. The exposure is good, and meeting fellow writers is even better.

Review sites and book bloggers
Many of them will not accept self-published books. Those that do are often overwhelmed and put up a "Not accepting submissions" note.

If you find one that's accepting self-published books, read the submission guidelines carefully and follow them just as you would when submitting to an agent or editor. Use your query letter or back cover blurb (which you have lovingly polished through many revisions and beta feedback, right?) in your submission email.

I've found a few indexes of reviewers and book bloggers, which might be helpful:

New Releases
It's true: your new book release is excellent promotion for the rest of your books. I saw a little sales bump when I released Disciple, Part II. Soon I'll be making announcements about Part III.

So when I heard the idea of a multi-writer crossover anthology over at the Magic Appreciation Tour, I jumped on the chance. Fifteen of us sent our main characters to a besieged fantasy city to defend the last remnants of humanity. I'd say they were kicking ass and taking names, but who cares about the names.

The Battle of Ebulon is now available at Smashwords for FREE! I sent Kate (from Disciple) to help however she could.

Fifty thousand orcs at the city gate and they sent us a f***ing handmaid...?! You know she showed them what for. No spoilers -- go read it. There's a sample of my story over at my book blog.

Google Hangout tonight!
Yup, I'm still going to do it regardless of whether anybody shows up. 10 - 11:30 pm, Eastern (US), open to anybody to talk about anything writing-related. My webcam will be on, but don't feel like you have to turn yours on. We can just chat in the sidebar if you prefer. I will practice reading aloud from Disciple, since everyone talks about enjoying author readings and I have never done one. (I'm too chicken.)

It'll be a public hangout, and if I'm not in your circles on Google+ you can find the hangout on my profile page.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

It is getting harder and harder to be noticed in the flood of self published books. I wonder if things will ever die down. I suspect a lot of authors won't be around in five years. Not because their books aren't good. Many are. But because they give up when sales never take off. Unfortunately no one can predict who will be successful and who won't be.

L. Blankenship said...

I'd never blame a writer for leaving the writing biz in search of a steady paycheck. There absolutely is an element of luck involved. You need to be able to back it up with talent, craft mastery, etc., but... yeah, luck.

Luck gets you in the door, but talent keeps you there.

Liz said...

I've seen some interesting ideas for promotion via another blog I follow. It's doable, but I don't think it'll ever be easy.

Rachel Morgan said...

The Battle of Ebulon sounds like such a cool premise!

L. Blankenship said...

It was! Crossovers are so tricky, especially when everyone is using magic -- but this one made sense.

M Pax said...

It is hard to get noticed. The anthology idea is really neat. I'm not sure blog tours do much either. Although, I do like to get people to give my new books a shout when they come out.

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