Tag Archives: Promotion

Promo Frustration

Maybe all the old people are right.  Maybe my generation never learned to savor anticipation.  Or maybe it’s just that when you look backwards you tend to look past the dull plodding hours of frustration and impatience.

So I did a little bit of promo work.  Nothing Earth shattering, but I did invest a bit of time and energy and money into putting Awfully Appetizing out into the world.  The thing is, my little foray into promotion is the kind of thing that takes time to bear fruit.  Several weeks at the very least, and closer to months if I’m being realistic.

But no sooner had I mailed things off (snail mail, mind you) then I found myself checking online to see if there had been any effect.  I think that the same excitement that helped me get the job done to start with has now mutated into an angry, whiny neediness that insists that, having done the work, I should get the reward.  Now!  NOW!

Just another example of intellect versus emotion.  I feel one way despite knowing just how stupid it is.  Another example of why I try very hard to avoid trusting my instincts.  Hey, your instincts may work for you, mine are three year old children that I lug around in a backpack.

Advertisements

New Promotion

So, I’m sure this has been done before by somebody somewhere, but, frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it before, so I’m going to call this my idea.

I’m working on a new promotional project that I like to call “Passalong Books”!  I’m very excited.  Basically I bought a bunch of copies of my first book, Awfully Appetizing.  On the inside if the front cover I’m writing out instructions that go more or less like this:

“Hello Reader!  You’ve just received a ‘Passalong Book;’ the rules are simple, as soon as you get it, write your name, and the city and state you are in on the top available line below.  Then, read a chapter.  If you like what you’ve read, keep going! If not, no harm done.  Whenever you’ve finished, pass the book to somebody you think might enjoy it!”

Fingers crossed, the books will get passed around a bit.  I figure that if the average passalong book gets handed off and read ten times before it finds a final resting place, I should get a conservative two or three people who otherwise would never have read the book who are interested in the sequel.

Perhaps that’s just me being optimistic.  I don’t know, but to be frank, it’s one of the few ideas that I’ve had that seems both plausible and reasonable to me.  So many promotional techniques just feel awful.  Either like I’m lying, or like I’m forcing myself down other people’s throats.  I figure, if somebody doesn’t like my book after the first chapter, making them read anymore is just a waste.  The problem is, people don’t generally feel like they can read the first chapter without buying the book… or rather, I often feel that way.

Anyhow, that’s my plan!  I’m excited, and I’m sending out my first round of Passalong books tomorrow!  I’ve got one going to California, two going to Texas, one going to Colorado, and one going to Washington.  I’m hoping that in round two, which may take me a month or two to arrange, I’ll be able to hit five or six other states.  Fingers crossed!

The Genre Thing

So, my publisher recently purchased an advertisement spot for my book.  Well, she purchased an advertisement spot for a bunch of the books she represents, one of which was mine.  It’s very exciting, the image of my book is about to appear in a magazine.  I’m kind of stoked.

The one thing that bothers me is that the magazine in question is a horror magazine.

My writing is, to my mind, much more comedy oriented.  Action?  Sure.  Adventure? Why not.  Fantasy?  Definitely.

But horror?  I mean, sure, my main character is a monster from nightmares, but it’s from his point of view and he really doesn’t see himself as horrific.  Okay, he kind of does, but… that’s not really the way it’s supposed to come across.

The thing is, I desperately want people to read my book.  Anybody, really.  I mean, I’m getting to the point that when the book comes out in print I may just run up and down the street throwing copies of it at people and screaming ‘read this!  Read it!’

But I’m a little worried about people coming to the book with the wrong idea in mind.  I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve read a book or watched a movie and been disappointed, not in the quality of it, but in the fact that it wasn’t what I was looking to experience right then.  Am I setting potential readers up for that disappointment?  And should I be worried about that?

My publisher is very horror oriented in most of her work.  She is, apparently, trying to expand into urban fantasy, and I’m glad she is, but a lot of the connections that she has right here and now are horror connections, and I’m a little worried….

In fairness, though, I’m always a little worried.  It’s my nature.  It’s why I take pills for anxiety.

Social Media?

Perhaps I’m dating myself, but I just don’t get most social media.  It’s basically a requirement, if you’re trying to be a writer, that you use social media to promote yourself.  You’re supposed to set up a facebook author page, a twitter account, a webpage, a blog, pintrest, twango, rootcanal… sorry, kind of started making stuff up there, but if I’m honest about it, half the time when I hear about something new I’m fairly certain the person telling me about it is pulling my leg.

There are a few I kind of like.  I mean, blogging, that’s basically just me talking about myself in front of a bunch of people, but without them being able to see me, so I don’t have to put on any clothes first!  The webpage is fine, too.  I wish they’d make those things a little bit easier to play with, if they did I’d be changing stuff up more regularly.

But there are so many different online things that I just don’t get!

Twitter: what could I possibly have to say in a hundred and forty characters that anybody would want to hear?

Okay, I can think of a few things, but only… maybe twelve or thirteen. And those don’t come up often.  Outside of ‘finished my latest book, and boy am I tired,’ and ‘I just became an Uncle!  Woo!’ most of my interesting tweets are also fairly depressing.  I can’t imagine why anybody who didn’t know me already wold want to hear about that.

Pinterest may be cool, I don’t know, I don’t understand it at all.  As best as I can tell you just click ‘pin it’ on images and articles that look cool to you and then… can other people look at your pins?  I don’t really know how that works.

But the one that really makes me crazy is linkedin.  As best as I can tell, linked in is basically an electronic rolodex, but without the useful contact information, and other people get to put themselves into it.

The promotion game

I just finished the first draft of my big promotion ploy.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on it.  Like, oodles.  The end product is actually going to be another book.  Not a full length novel like what I normally write, but a book, something to be published and sold…. Even so, I count it as a promotional device, something that will, hopefully, get people to try out my other books.  The ‘real’ books.

Sorry I can’t go into too many details right here and now, I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet.  The thing that’s frustrating to me is that even though this project is, itself, a promotional tool,I’m going to have to try to promote it as a product unto itself.  The reason that this might work is that the new book is designed to be more of an attention getter than my novels have been.  Novels have a tendency to get swallowed up in the tide of new literature that’s released every year.  Unless something draws people to it, unless something makes them stop and stare for a second, their eyes just float right over it.

So I’m making a decoy book, something that is meant to make people stop, stare, and read, with the hope that they will then say, ‘hey, what a clever writer, what else has he written?’ which will, hopefully, lead them to my ‘real books.’

It’s a bit absurd, but let’s be honest, if you’re an artist and you want to make a living as an artist, absurd is just the first stop on your trip to crazytown.

Online Book Release

so, I think I mentioned in an earlier post that a friend invited me to host for a little bit at an online book release party.  Well, that was yesterday, and I’m glad I went.  I’m not sure that I actually managed to sell any books.  Most of the people who were there appeared to be fans of the adult romance genre.  Frankly, I suspect I was invited because they had a time slot to fill, and nobody else to offer it to.

But I’m glad I went, because it was quite informative.  There were things that were done well, and things that were done less well.  There seems to be a subtle art to setting these things up.  Although I will admit that the way the facebook page works doesn’t seem particularly conducive to what we were trying to set up.  If you were involved with more than one thread, more than one conversation, you basically had to be clicking all over the place constantly.  Finding your way back to a conversation, or to find the right place to put down a particular question or comment is a little bit more difficult than it needs to be.

But the real trick seems to be getting people ‘in the door’ so to speak.  Like with any book release, it’s almost like pulling teeth to get people to come.  I think that if I ran a few of these I could get a reputation for throwing fun parties, which would help, but there needs to be something else to motivate people.  Like a raffle with a really nice grand prize.

I don’t know.  I’ll have to think on it.  The medium has a lot of potential, but at the moment it isn’t being utilized like you would hope.

Wanna free book?

A while back it occurred to me, after going to a couple of book signings, that book signings don’t seem to be massively effective.  Basically, if you want to get a bunch of people there, and you aren’t already famous, you have to do a lot of advertising, make sure that ALL of your friends promise to come, and tell them to invite all of their friends, too.

So, what you end up with at a typical book signing is a bunch of people you know, and a couple of people that they know, and maybe two or three people who saw an ad and thought ‘what the heck,’ or just stumbled across the signing by accident.

Now, there are other styles of book signings which generally seem to involve setting up a table in a high traffic area, bringing a lot of books, and hoping that your nifty cover draws some attention.  Apparently those can work, although in many cases what you end up with are sore feet and three or four sales.  So, you know, just make sure you don’t have to pay anybody to set up your table.

What occurred to me back when I had friends setting up book signings was that a multi-author book signing event would probably work a lot better.  For one thing, larger events tend to attract more people.  If you have one author signing books it’s easy to say, ‘eh, probably a terribly written story inspired by a role playing game.’  But if you have five or six authors signing books, it lends the event an air of legitimacy.  Plus, if five or six people invite all of their friends, chances are that some of the people who are hearing about your book don’t actually know who you are.  it’s actually possible to expand your audience, which, needless to say, is kind of the point of the whole damned thing.

To my surprise, an author friend of mine invited me to an online book release party.  Not just to attend, but also to be one of the hosts, talk about my books and my writing, and even give away a few copies of my book.

I wish I could give away physical copies, but as stated before, there are some issues with that.

Anyhow, the event is coming up on the 12th and is on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/943344462413897/

Please feel free to attend if you’d like to have a chance to get a free copy of my book, or one of the other hosts, most especially J.A. Kazimer, who is writing the Deadly Ever After series, and whose second book is about to be published.

I’m quite excited to be involved in a multi-author book release.  I still think that it would be cool to set up a multi-author book signing… but there would be a lot of logistics involved there.  Maybe someday.

Reflecting as I promote

So, one of the great conundrums in the world of promoting art is how you seek out your audience.

There are places, both real and virtual, where fans of particular kinds of art congregate.  For the sake of this blog, I’m going to focus on the fans of my kind of art.  Science fiction and fantasy books.

The problem is that the places, both real and virtual, which have the largest gatherings of potential readers are well aware of their potential value.  Places like comic book conventions, and io9, where my possible readers come together regularly and in droves, know that have created the perfect place for writers and the like to peddle their wares, so they charge for the privilege.  I don’t begrudge them that, after all they put a lot of time and energy into what they do.  It makes sense that people looking to take advantage of it should have to pay for it.

The problem is that for writers who don’t have an established fan base and can’t count on a certain number of sales, or cannot easily come up with the money required to rent a table, each purchase is a calculated risk.

So instead, when you don’t have the cash flow to buy a spot at one of the big places, you have to look for the little places.  Like blogs.  A few days back I found a list of blogs where people reviewed urban fantasy stories.  I went through them, checked each one out, and whenever I found an active site that looked like they were interested in my kind of story, I sent them an e-mail asking if they’d like to review my book.

The thing that interested me was just how many of the sites were defunct.  You had to keep your eyes open, check out how long ago the last post had been put up.  There were places that looked perfect for my kind of book, it just happened that the last time they’d done anything on their site was 2011.  Funny.  And kind of sad.  A bunch more just weren’t taking reviews at the moment, so, all told, of the hundred and fifty blog sites that I looked into, I think I sent off just a little under twenty five requests.

But man, there were a lot of dead sites.  In a way, looking at all of the review sites reminded me a lot of writers.  There are a lot of writers and would-be writers out in the world, trying to make a go of it, desperate to be seen, desperate to be heard.  We tell ourselves that this is our calling, that this is what we want to do with our life.  But somehow, the longer you go, the more ‘bodies’ you start seeing on the side of the proverbial road.  Eventually most people quit.  And I can’t fault them for it. Pursuing your dreams is a rough road to travel.  You take a look around you and you see the people who’ve made it, you see the io9s and the comicons, and you know where you want to end up, what you want to be.  But at a certain point you just sort of realize that you’re not going to end up there.  You can do well for yourself, potentially you can become  a great niche artist, but your name will never reach the acclaim of, say Stephen King or Jim Butcher.  It’s a bit troubling, when you have to readjust your aim, shoot a little lower.

Delayed Reaction

Woo!  Sorry about that last post.  As  rule I should avoid blogging when I’ve been up for more than twenty hours at a stretch.  I know people who can function after a couple of days without sleep, but let’s face it, I need eight hours a day or I’m delirious.

Anyway, after finding out a couple of days ago that I’ve sold all of seven copies of my book over the last three weeks (SEVEN?!?), I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time over the next couple of days focusing on promotion.

But one of the problems I have with promotions is that the best forms generally take a lot of time, and are incredibly hard to attribute directly to the source.

For example, the form of promotion I think is most effective is word of mouth.  If somebody reads your book and loves it so much that they start telling everybody about it, that is probably the single most effective method of reaching a wide audience that you will ever find.  Now, it’s true that if the person who read it and loves it has a platform, it’s even more effective, for example, if Oprah Winfrey loves your book, that’ll get you more sales than if Ms. Bennett from apartment 3A loves your book, but either way, if you can make somebody a fan for life, then you’ve got an advertisement that will keep on working for you for years to come.  Not to mention the fact that an endorsement from someone who is obviously not being paid to endorse your work will carry more weight than any paid advertisement.  Oh, and by the way, you also have somebody who wants to know when your next book comes out.

But getting word of mouth going requires time.  After all, you have to get the book into the reader’s hand and wait for them to actually read it.  Plus, who remembers the name of a book recommended to them in a casual conversation?  You have to tell it to them half a dozen times before they remember that it was Storm Front by Jim Butcher, not the Butcher Store by Jimmy Front.

And attribution is a bitch as well.  Promoting is a lot like putting on a blindfold and throwing darts at the board.  When you finally take the blindfold off and see that one of the darts got you fifty points, how the hell are you supposed to know which throw it came from?

So even if you find the perfect way to promote your book, once you’ve done it, how the hell do you figure out which of the techniques is actually responsible?

I’m sending review requests to a bunch of book reviewers over the next couple of days.  I’ve done this before, when I was promoting a book under another name.  I sent out reviews to about a dozen bloggers and exactly zero of them replied.  But hey, maybe this time…

A manufactured Rush

So, I got some terrible news today.  It seems that in the three weeks since my book came out, I’ve sold a total of seven copies.

Now, in fairness, most of the people I know who are willing to buy a copy of my book for me are more into print copies of the book, and for the last three weeks no print copies have been available.  That said, seven books in the first three weeks is… pretty bad.

I talked to a friend and fellow author about the problem.  Jason Richter, who wrote Mating Rituals of Migratory Humans.  He suggested that I ‘arrange a rush’ on my book.  Basically I’m supposed to contact all of my friends who are willing and able to buy copies of the book and try to get all of them to purchase a copy on the same day at around the same time.

The theory, as I understand it, is that if you do that your amazon ranking shoots up, which, presumably, means that some amazon algorithm decides that your book is ‘hot’ and they market you a little bit.  Theoretically, you get a few extra sales out of the deal, I think.

Now, honestly, I don’t really get it.  Any of it.  But Richter is a smart fellow, and according to him it can work, so what the hell, I’ll give it a try.

The problem now is that I have to wait until I know for sure my book is actually in print, and then I have to contact everyone I know all at once.  Sadly, I am not the most organized person in the world.  At the moment, for example, my bedroom floor is a bit tricky to navigate as I have a sprawling pile of clean clothes that I really need to hang up, a pile of junk mail from the past couple of months that I need to shred, and a pile of dirty clothes that is slowly encroaching on the clean clothes pile.

Oh, and a giant roll of paper that I bought from the newspaper people so I could make diagrams to help me keep track of crap in my writing.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: writing is a passion, a calling, a lifestyle.  Promoting is a job.

Anyhow, if anyone out there who happens upon this blog is interested in reading a book about an anti-social ghoul who finds himself caught in the middle of a battle between neckbiters and crotchsniffers (that’s vampires and werewolves), please, head to amazon and buy a book.  You’ll make my day.

No, seriously, you’ll make my day.  I’ve got to have a ‘talk’ with my editor and a marketing guy in a couple of days.  It feels like I’ve been called into the principals office.