My book launch for “Indefinitely Idled” is this week and I am fretting. Ok, not just fretting… freaking! I have nothing to wear. I don’t know what part to read. There’s a very real chance that no one will show up. I should’ve bought a pair of spanx, to contain myself. I had a dream I did the launch… underwater, with drowning kittens floating by. The band kept playing, I kept reading, the kittens kept drowning.
This is the plight of the self-published author. We fret. We freak. We fret because we are alone in the marketing of our books, and, like most authors, we are not extroverted people. The thought of facing a crowd of people wanting to talk to us is knee wobbling. The thought of doing it repeatedly in a variety of venues is overwhelming. Self-published writers, write. We don’t socialize. Who has the time? Who has anything to wear?
I have a theory, which is probably wrong, but I’m going with it. In all my research into marketing self-published books, everyone insists that you need facebook likes, twitter follows, blog follows, like, follow, mention, retweet… ok. I get that. I see the value in spreading the word, but I’m just not buyin’ it. I think it’s a ploy by the facebook/twitter/blog platforms to increase traffic to their social networking sites, rather than a viable and trustworthy way to build a fan base. I don’t buy books that way. I buy books based on reviews, the appeal of the cover, and the blurb.
And I buy a lot of books. But never because the author has a cool facebook page.
I’m terrible at writing blurbs, by the way. Terrible. “It’s a book. About some people. Some stuff happens. The end.” That could explain my agonizingly low sales numbers.
I have liked and tweeted and followed… and not bought books. I’m sorry, those of you I have followed and liked… I just don’t think this is the path to success. Maybe I have a very old-fashioned sense of value, and the ethics of endorsement. How can I “like” someone’s page if I haven’t read their books? How can anyone “like” my page, if they haven’t read mine? And I know my likers haven’t read my books, or my sales would be in the hundreds. (Yes. Sadly, I’ve barely made it past double digits.) I also haven’t read the books of all the indie published authors I have “liked”, because I am a persnickety reader. I believe I am not the only one. I’m sorry, but I will never, never, never buy an erotic paranormal romantic gothic vampire thriller. I won’t. I read Moby Dick when I was twelve. I’m sorry, but I’m a Moby Dick snob. I read “Twilight” under duress and barely survived without imploding. (Read my impressions of “Fifty Shades” here.)
A reader’s time is valuable. A reader is going to cut to the chase and buy a book that has some credibility, some ingrained interest that leaps out at them not because the author has three thousand facebook likes, but because the author has a dozen solid critical reviews that prove the writing is worth the reader’s time.
I have embarked upon a strange and random marketing scheme which sees me flitting throughout my small community in the wee hours of the morning, depositing free copies of my latest novel on doorsteps, businesses, flower gardens. I have a letter inside the cover that encourages the recipient of the free book to enjoy it, perhaps write a review on amazon, perhaps tweet, perhaps pass along to a friend. I have left a free copy on the stacks of a local book store, right beside the computer terminal open to a search of my name. It’s guerilla ninja undercover book marketing. I giggle a lot while I’m doing it.
Is this going to work for me? Probably not. I live in a small community, after all, and I can’t afford to give away all my books, but I hope that if even a fraction of the recipients make the effort to write a review for me, it might make it worthwhile. And it’s very fun. I know if I came across a brand new book sitting beside a clump of daffodils with a sign in purple marker saying “Free to a good home”, I would embrace that random gift of literature. Especially since the cover is so deliciously saucy!
I love writing my books. I love editing them. I love sharing them with my friends. And I would love people to buy them. But I think my marketing has to rely on the standard of my work, the willingness of my readers to be my voice in the form of reviews, and my efforts to continue improving my craft. I am not negating the value of twitter and facebook and all such social media tools. I just know that I didn’t find the books I have loved from those sources, and the random indie success stories, such as Hugh Howey and Darcie Chan, didn’t rely on likes and follows to reach their readers. The likes and follows came after.
I don’t have any answers, and I’m leaving my books in daffodil patches, so really? Should anyone listen to me? Probably not… but I hope someone reads me. I hope someone likes my book enough to mention to the amazon giant that they thought it was ok. Like my book, not my profile. That’s my motto. I will have three books out by September. Once I have three available, I feel I’ll have something to work with. Maybe then I’ll buy a Kirkus, or a banner on Goodreads, but I can’t afford that stuff now, not while I’m merrily scattering free books to the four winds like an enormous Literary Easter Bunny.
So, I am fretting, because I’ve booked a band, and a bar, and I have a hundred print copies of “Indefinitely Idled” sitting in boxes in my kitchen, and I’m terrified that I’m going to actually have to talk to people who might want to buy a copy. Thank goodness my daughters will be there to support me. At my book launch for “That Thing That Happened” I forgot to get a cash box and float, my dress kept getting caught on my chair, and I read a piece that had several nasty swear words in it when there were children in the room. My daughters saved me. I sold 88 copies of “That Thing” at that launch, because I live in a community of wonderfully supportive people who like to be entertained by a night of music and reading, with the odd swear word thrown in for color. Hopefully the launch for “Indefinitely Idled” will be a success.
I’m worried about the dream with the drowning kittens, though.
Check out my books on amazon…