19 August, 2012

The Post-Publication Dilemma

Consider the dilemma of the just-published author. Let's call him, oh, to pick a name at random, BEN.

Ben has just self-published a book on Amazon (*cough*). He thinks it's pretty good, but that hardly matters: Ben has no advertising budget, no promotional machine supporting him, no name recognition (except for a few friends on a hypothetical fantasy writing discussion forum he frequents, or would frequent, if it were real, which it's not, because Ben is fictional).

From Ben's POV, it's easy: the book is good and everyone should want to read it. But from Randy Reader's POV, it's just one book among thousands of others. What's there to recommend it? Why would he even spend one second looking at it, when there's so many other ways for him to spend his time?

Okay, so you may have seen through my clever ruse and figured out that I'm talking about myself. I'm torn between spending time crawling the Internet, looking for places to promote my book; and spending time writing the next one. On the one hand, the more work I can get out there, the more likely it is that I'll cross that mental threshold into being a "real" author in the eyes of readers; on the other hand, if I can get attention for this book, maybe that will start me off with a bang sooner.

I'm better at writing than marketing (...or so I've led myself to believe), so I'm going to concentrate on the writing aspect, with just a little bit of persistent marketing. It's going to be a long slog to success no matter what, and it's impossible to tell in advance what path to take; so I may as well take one that sounds sane.


  1. No one will care as much about your work or works as you do. Not your wife, your children, your best friend, your co-workers, your neighbor, even your grandmother (if you weren't self-published, I'd included your agent and/or editor).

    That's just the way it is. You'll have to spend some time on marketing and promotion, at least to get the ball rolling, if you ask me. You'll have seek out and work with other authors/blogs/review sites, etc., unless you can hire someone or convince someone to do it for you--and then will they care as much as you?

    Maybe some of it is about the money (there is nothing wrong with earning back some for the investment in time and effort in writing and editing and all that goes into getting a mansucript ready, and layout of money things like cover art, etc.), but I am betting a lot of it is about the desire to tell stories and have others read and enjoy those stories.

    Sure, maybe it'll take off without you lifting a finger, but man, I really think the odds are against that--bit time.

    That's my two cents on the topic :)

    1. I'm trying to embrace marketing tactics that fit in with my budget (basically zero) and inclination. Getting to know people who like fantasy is one way; I'm definitely going to try to get author/bloggers with a bigger audience to check out the book (free copy!) and see if they'll recommend it on their blog.

      The trick is finding candidates to approach. They have to be someone who I think will actually enjoy the book; I most definitely don't want to be That Guy... the one who is just looking for promotion and doesn't want to give anything back.

  2. I recommend Craigslist. Post something in your local news section about the release and then post a promo every month in the books for sale section. It costs nothing and can possibly drive some local people to your book.

    And great points about promoting. I think I have been too stressed out by my first book that I haven't even touched the novellas I want to get out soon or the short stories I have on the backburner.