Self-promotion for an indie author is as effective as diving headfirst into quicksand. If you can’t find or attract the right kind of audience and potential reader-base, and if you can’t solidify those first few fans who are not only willing but happy to share word of their newly-discovered Brilliant Author, then all you’re doing with your self-promo is flogging a world of dead horses (which is why my blog is so named.)
On December 12th I released my 150-page collection of short stories and poems (and sketches), covering the genres of fantasy, sf, contemporary, spec and horror. To date it’s sold one paperback copy and one Kindle copy, and received two reviews.
On December 14th I released the short story / poem combo of Moses Garrett / Angerland – dystopian urban SF – for the lowest possible price of 99c and equivalents. To date it’s sold no copies and received no reviews.
A week ago I released my entry into the Verragos Tapestry epic fantasy series. Night of the Taking includes the eponymous short story, an exclusive full first chapter of my current work-in-progress, and more exclusive content. It immediately sold one copy (thanks, Dave), then sank along with my other releases.
Now, I can almost hear the writers with novel-length releases saying how short stories are a hard sale. I hear it all the time, and yet about 10% of the free copies I’ve given out have received fantastic feedback. Unfortunately, while such feedback is great to hear and humbling to receive, it stops as soon as it’s given because indie-published works don’t sell themselves.
I’ve done interviews, I’ve appeared as a guest author on a couple of blogs, I’ve promoted myself a lot, but (for those of you who are sick of seeing my promo posts) it’s been a lot less than the majority of indie authors.
The main crowd I need to attract is the Fantasy/SF crowd. You’d think that would be an easy one to grab the attention of. Unfortunately, the opposite couldn’t be more true. I’ve witnessed the romance/erotica crowd dutifullly sticking together and promoting one another; it must be great to gather a flock of similar authors around you like a comfy blanket, knowing each time you release something it’s going to get exposure and sales.
I think perhaps that while I’ve always been good with people, I’ve also always been something of a loner. If I was a troubled young girl, you might call me a wallflower. If I sported a biker’s jacket and an attitude, you might call me a rebel. Truth is I’m just an introvert. So how does an introverted indie author go about gathering a fan base and a gaggle of like-minded authors around himself? How does one grab exposure? How does one attract the attention of the right people? Clearly it’s not about promo, promo, promo till you’re blue in the teeth, because that’s a tried and tested method that just doesn’t cut it.
Clearly it’s all about who you know. And if you don’t know people, you need to get acquainted with them. But where are they? Don’t get me wrong – I’ve read some fantasy, sci fi and horror stories, from shorts to full novels, that absolutely stank; I don’t want to associate myself with writers who can barely string a sentence together. I don’t want to surround myself with authors who have learned none of the golden guidelines to writing a story that people are going to feel immersed in. I want to find the quality crowd, the people who have learned how to write well, because if I associate myself only with those whose prose is as dull as a white-washed wall, it’s going to be more of a detriment than an asset.
So, while the quest continues in the background, in the meantime my focus will be away from pointless self-promotion and solely on my work-in-progress. My next release will be at least novella-length, but equally likely it’ll become long enough to be classed as a novel. Then we’ll see who’s interested.