I find myself in that void between publishing your work and seeing a response. It is a strange place, kind of like I imagine the doldrums to be. The initial excitement of my book entering the big bad world was maintained by the good friends and supportive family members who bought a copy of course, wonderful people each and every one of them, but that is not enough.
Every author knows that the goodwill and best intentions of family and friends is crucial to seeing a project through but not enough to give you a degree of commercial success. Even the copies bought and read by strangers, as thrilling as it is in its own right, is not enough.
The word has to get around somehow.
Don’t get me wrong, when I write ‘commercial success’ I am not dreaming of a mansion and a garage full of Italian supercars, it is something much more down to earth than that. I am thinking of earning enough to cover my current salary. This is because working full time and being a husband and father really does not leave much time left for pursuing the dream of being an author as well. Whatever free time I do get I try to squeeze as much out of it as possible – but there is so much to do!!!
Each day I keep having new ideas for new stories with new characters! Why did this not happen to me when I was a teenager with no commitments and no job? Not that I am complaining, I love thinking things through and developing new ideas in my head gets me through my boring day job, if only I had the time and energy on an evening to sit down and put everything that is that overfilled cranium onto a page or two.
If I could earn enough to uphold my side of the domestic budget then my wife would have no objection to me giving up work and staying at home to write books and do the cooking and a bit of cleaning. That is my dream...although if I could stretch to an Aston Martin DB9 I would not complain either!
Book promotion is the name of the next game. It is a flumuxing world for a novice like myself. There are of course lots and lots of websites out there that offer all kinds of seductive treats for the desperate indie-author looking to flog their latest work to the world. There are many big bad wolves just salivating over every new little red riding hoods that go wandering by.
A good rule of thumb – if it is too good to be true then it probably is!
A rule of thumb that is sometimes true but not always – if you have to pay then it is not a good idea!
This is because some of the better promotion sites ask for a reasonable one off only payment. They also usually offer a number of different packages with a sliding scale of costs that even at the higher end are still reasonable. Good Kindles (http://www.goodkindles.net/) is one such site and Independent Author Network (http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/) is another. I do not advocate one over the other, just take a look yourself and see which you prefer or even if you like both.
Another rule of thumb that is always true – if you have to pay more than a reasonable cost then walk away!
Anyone who offers you instant success but then starts talking about you forwarding money to them before they start to do anything for you, and usually large amounts too, is probably looking to milk you dry!
There is no doubt that unless you get some big shot literary agent behind you or if you already have a large stash of money to call upon then you are only going to get what you are willing to put into this marketing game. It is worth it though. There are some good people out there looking for an interesting read, they just need to know that you have written the sort of thing that they might be looking for.
To begin with I started cheap and cheerful, or ‘free’ as we call it in Yorkshire. I used Facebook and Twiter to begin with. Join groups with the former, retweet other authors works with the latter. This leads to some encouraging reciprocation. Blogging is also free, fun and rewarding.
Goodreads is another great place to be if you are a writer as it is full of readers! Yes, lots of lovely, charming, delightful readers! Get into the Goodreads Author Program, it is free and comes with more benefits than most of your friends!
Of course there is a limit with everything and when you reach it then is the time to start thinking about investing some money in promoting your book. This need not be the money-pit of nightmares. The key is to establish a budget that you can afford and stick to it. If anyone starts suggesting that you can stretch to a little bit more, adopt a John Wayne voice and tell them in no uncertain terms that you are the boss and you will do what you jolly well think is best, which should not include spending next month’s mortgage payment.
Its a long road to success but like all journeys it has to start with the first step, as sure as fish and chips is the food of the gods no one ever got anywhere by standing still, well except those who consider the earth rotating an approximate 800mph is a means of getting somewhere. And do not forget the fun! There is fun to be had in marketing your work because it involves meeting new people, even virtually over the internet, and every new person you meet, even virtually, is virtually a new reader of your work – enough with the repetition!
I’m off to flog my wares now, anyone want to read a good book?