As an indie author I’ve learnt a lot about publishing.
Being responsible for every aspect of my novel—from draft to local bookstore delivery—I’ve ticked the boxes of almost every conceivable aspect of the creation and marketing of a new work of fiction. Some of these include:
- Sorting through the mountainous notes and scribbles (and never-ending brainwaves) to pick the one idea I would devote years to bringing to novel fruition.
- Drafting multiple drafts and reading each to patient wife (and somehow managing to maintain a happy marriage).
- Choosing and hiring editors, cover artists, designers, proof readers, publicists (well, one publicist).
- Applying to literary festivals for ‘invitations’.
- Booking pub venue for launch party of first book and handing over credit-card for yet another ‘investment in my writing career’.
- Meeting with distributors, retailers and everyone else who helps me get my book to my dear, precious readers.
And while I am usually pretty pragmatic about the whole process—finding out what needs to be done and doing it—sometimes I’m not sure of the next move. Especially when it comes to marketing and promotion.
There are endless opportunities for me to spend my time and money investing in possible ways to let the world know there is an ‘amazing new novel’ by a ‘brilliant new writer’—but how can I know which is the BEST route to take?
Should I use Google Ads (which I tried but to not much success)?
Is doing a Facebook ad campaign a good way to spread the word or am I just joining in to what I least like about Facebook: the bloody advertising?
Is it okay to email the people who bought my first book to see if they are interested in my second?
And, in order to build interest with possible readers, is it really necessary for me to give away a trip to the moon?
“A what? Trip to the moon? What are you talking about, Ben?”
I know, it sounds crazy right? That’s ’cause it is. Nobody would giveaway a trip to the moon just to try and move some copies of their latest ‘fantastic read’ but, surfing around Goodreads this morning I found out someone WOULD—and IS—giving away a trip to Sonoma Valley.
Now I’m not even sure where Sonoma Valley is but I bet it’s a long way from where I live in Melbourne, Australia. I wonder if the indie author who is running that giveaway would fly me across the globe should I decide to enter, and be fortunate enough to win, her competition? I expect not. And I wouldn’t want her to. Because I know I’m not alone in the ‘what-the-hell-should-I-do-and-how-much-do-I-have-to-spend-to-sell-a-J.K.Rowling’s-worth’ of my books game.
We’re all doing our best.
But it’s tough. Indie author’s like me have to become marketers, publicists and promoters as well as continuing to write, edit and polish the work we will next be selling off our own backs (or out of the boot of our car!).
Yes, being an indie author means logging on at all hours to see if our book has been blessed with a new Goodreads review or sold another few copies to push it higher on the Amazon charts. But so what. I signed up for it. Nobody made me become an independent author. I could have committed to a life writing query letters to agents and publishing companies and J.K. Rowling but I chose instead to go it alone. There is, therefore, nobody to blame, bitch about or acuse of neglecting me in the promotion stakes: it’s up to me.
But I do have some help.
Last week I dropped into my local Dymocks and had a nice chat with the owner, Tim, and the manager, Claire. Before my consignment of fresh Zippin Pippin paperbacks had hardly hit the shelves a bunch of them were already up there in the bestseller stack, coming in at the auspicious number eight. Claire said I should get a photo of it and blog about it like I did for my first novel (The Last Great Day). “Good idea,” I thought.
So I did.
(In Chinese the word for “eight” sounds similar to the word which means “prosper” or “”wealth” and is therefore considered very auspicious. In regional dialects the words for “eight” and “fortune” are also similar.)
Then, when I got home, I remembered some of my Facebook friends had expressed an interest in getting a signed copy of Zippin Pippin instead of the cheaper, unsigned copy from Amazon. So, I decided that I’d update my website with a link to my Paypal account so anyone who wanted a signed copy could click through and get one. And today that’s all done.
I may not be able to offer a FREE TRIP TO THE MOON in a competition to promote Zippin Pippin but I’ll do what I can each day to spread the word.
And I’m always happy to learn more. Right now, I’m heading over to Goodreads to see what else I can find out about how to be a pro-active and respectful indie author there. If you’re on Goodreads too, say ‘Hi’. We can perve into each other’s book collection and learn intimate secrets about our virtual shelves/selves.
More fun than a trip to the moon!
PS. If you want to enter my competition to win a copy of Zippin Pippin visit Goodreads.
PSS. If you’d like to buy a copy today visit my website for options on the eBook, paperback or signed paperback.