When writing a book for the first time, you think that THAT is the hard part. However, when you hit that ‘publish’ button, whether it’s on Smashwords, Amazon or the various other places available for self-publishing, you discover that it’s only then that the hard work begins.
Unfortunately, most books simply don’t sell themselves. There needs to be time and effort into promoting, building a fan base, surfing forums (and by this I mean actively engaging in the community and not simply spamming book links) and getting your book and author name known. It’s a hard process. And, it takes a lot of time.
Having read on many forums and blogs that touting a single novel is often a waste of time because though you’ll get sales on one book, there’s no back catalogue for fans to then purchase, I’ve decided to cut back on advertising. Book sales are slow, but having done no real promoting in two weeks, I’m still getting the odd sale here and there. Meanwhile, the extra time means I can plough myself into writing the next Inside Evil book which, incidentally, is coming on rather well.
I think taking a break is probably a healthy option, and stops the advertising wheel from taking over your life. And, if I can put my energies into writing and publishing more work, it can only be a good step to take.
There are a number of ways for indie writers to publish, including utilising Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble’s own self publishing kit, PubIt. Another small but growing resource is Make Your Offer (MYO) which offers a sales space to sell and barter for Ebooks.
The premise is quite good. Setting a price point on a book can be quite hard, especially if you only have a small number of titles out and can’t readily create a loss leader to encourage sales on other works. MYO allows the option for users to bid on your book, offering people the chance to read your sample and then make an offer on what they’ll pay for the title. You can specify a minimum approved bid and set the system to auto accept. Or, you can opt out of the bidding system and sell at a set price.
This is a growing community with currently less than 100 books available and a small number of members. But, everything has to start off small. The developers of MYO are constantly striving to make improvements which could see MYO continue to grow exponentially in the future. You can’t expect huge sales here, but you can expect a book community ready to make purchases and offer feedback.
I’m interested in how this website will work out, and for a first time novelist like me, who’s work got lost in the black hole of Amazon’s Kindle rankings almost immediately, the ability to have Inside Evil remaining visible for an extended period of time is welcomed. I’ll report back on how sales go, but any new way of selling and promoting Ebooks is surely of great use to the indie community.
Today I was told that I had Anne Rice Syndrome. This is a very nice way of telling me that I’m doing something wrong. Anne Rice, the award winning author behind titles such as Interview with a Vampire and The Witching Hour is known for her long descriptive passages, causing readers to skip portions of the book. This is all very well for a well known author who’s work spreads by word of mouth and who doesn’t necessarily need that first paragraph hook. For me, however, changes need to be made to grip the reader immediately, rather than first setting the scene.
I’ve known that the first few pages of Inside Evil go to set the scene rather than jumping into the story. I’m no Tolkien, so I don’t spend 100 pages describing what Bilbo had for dinner, but the first 3/4 pages do set the scene of the craggy landscape where Ridgewood is set. If I were a well known author with lots of five star reviews, then yes, people would probably pick up, buy and read. However, i’m not, so a lack of instant appeal may cause readers to pass me by.
Ebooks, I feel, have a lot to do with this. As does Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Traditionally, if you bought a book, then you’d sit and read and indulge in descriptions. Certainly, I love that sort of written passage. However, with readers zapping through Amazon’s Look Inside feature and making decisions within paragraphs and pages, that instant grab factor has become vital.
So, what does it mean for me? My well meaning critique applauded my writing but suggested a first chapter rework so that readers are grabbed straight away. I’m considering it. I had hoped that the quality of writing would prevail and readers would become drawn into my described world. Perhaps i was wrong. I may attempt a rework, and then compare purchases to see if that first line hook is crucial in the long run. I will update on my findings!