This will likely come off as whining, but I suspect it’s going to be a bit cathartic for me to get it written out and move on. So here goes.
I’m more obsessed with my Amazon rank than I should be. I check how my book is doing pretty much every day, both the paperback and the Kindle versions, and since the sale I put up last month, it’s pretty much dropping like a rock. I have seven reviews–all of them quite good, 4 and 5 stars. The people who have read my book appear to enjoy it. Which I suppose I hoped would turn into more sales, more reviews and more happy people. Sort of organically, like a flower getting sunshine and water.
But that’s not the case.
Partly that’s my fault. Other than having a Facebook page and showering people with tweets to go “buy my book” I’m not really investing in marketing. And so my Facebook page goes into the morass of author pages and my tweets get swept off the page by millions of similar tweets. Seriously. Millions.
Partly this is because the notion of independent publishing has simply exploded. The ranking of my paperback for my book sits in the 3 million range on Amazon, and the Kindle version near 700,000. I have no idea where the basement is, quite frankly, but the market has simply been flooded with books and authors to the point where I have no idea how readers are actually finding things to read.
So I asked one of my friends who is also an independent author. She gave me some advice to join forums on Goodreads and engage with the community. I do that already on NeoGAF and that’s been more successful for me than anything else, so I’m giving it a shot. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places on Goodreads, but it appears to be filled with authors talking with each other, friending each other on Facebook, following each other on Twitter. It feels like gaming the system a bit, honestly, or preaching to the choir.
The other path for marketing is to actually pry open my wallet and spend some money on advertising. I’ve been extremely wary about this, because I have no idea how successful this is. I see ads pop up on my browser all the time and I’m annoyed by them, as they slow down the loading process. I can’t remember the last time I clicked on an ad.
Which leads me back to the ultimate question: where do readers go to find good books and, more specifically, my book? I dare you to do a Google search on that question, because you’ll get sites that boast “the 7 things you must do” or “the 20 ways to succeed as an independent author” or “the 51 things to do to sell your book”, etc. Apparently the independent publishing world has grown so large that it has spawned a whole set of other activities focused on assisting those authors.
One of the other suggestions is “write more books.” Apparently by having more books out there you’re somehow proving that the first one wasn’t a fluke or something. Interesting concept. The truth of the matter is the quality of the first book will never change no matter how many other books I write. Are readers wary of picking up a book by someone who’s only written one book? But yes, I’m writing more books. And I’m going to do what I did with the first one.
- Take my time in the writing process. I’m not just slapping words together and throwing it up on Amazon. And yes, there are indies who are doing that and it’s likely one of the reasons people steer clear of all indies.
- Engage with a local community group to review and provide feedback (i.e., beta readers).
- Edit, re-write, edit, re-write, edit, re-write… etc.
- At some point, stop the editing and re-writing process because you could do it forever.
- Go through all the publishing hullabaloo.
Those five steps take time, if you’re serious about producing a quality piece of literature. And for someone who has a full time job and a family, the amount of time to do step 1 is pretty small. It’s not like book 2 will be out in 2014 (hopefully 2015).
The other thing I plan to do is get to my local library and local independent bookstores and do what I can to promote my existing book. I’m hoping word of mouth directly face-to-face with people will drive more attention and focus than having those same people see my tweet go flinging off the page. There’s no doubt that the Internet is good for a lot of things, but perhaps selling someone on taking a gamble with an independent author isn’t one of them. Time to get out there and meet my readers face-to-face.