1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Article with promo ideas for self-publishers, plus reality...

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by BayView, Jul 24, 2017.

    There's an article at https://janefriedman.com/self-publishing-debut-literary-novel/ from an author who's self-published her debut literary novel and it goes into quite a bit of detail about the promotional tools used and the costs thereof.

    It also, to me, gave a really interesting insight into the mindset/finances of the process. The author has weirdly huge support on Patreon (raised $6 909) which changes the numbers a bit, but honestly, Patreon support has always mystified me. I'd like to know who her supporters are... friends and family? If so, it feels like a way to leach money from loved ones, which I'm not comfortable with. But maybe she's just really good at finding patrons...I don't know.

    Anyway, non-Patreon numbers show promotional expenses of $3 356 and book sales of $803.90, so without the Patreon injection this project would have cost her some serious money (and of course we won't get into the time spent). All the same, later in the article she wonders "Maybe... this is what success looks like for a debut literary fiction novel from a self-published author with a medium-sized online platform." She says that "The only thing that hasn’t been successful about this process are the (relatively) low sales."

    And at first I was dismissive and thought she was being a Pollyanna and/or in denial about the failure of her project, but then I remembered that my goals aren't her goals. I judge the success or failure of my writing financially, but she clearly doesn't. She's found quite a few things about her experience that she's pleased about (good reviews, events, interest in the second book) and doesn't seem discouraged by her results. So, yay for her!

    I think so many self-publishing proponents try to sell it on its financial merits and/or on some sort of fight-the-power rebellious angle. Those don't compel me. But maybe this article is a better model. I think it's one similar to @Lew 's attitude (although I don't want to speak for him!). The money isn't the important thing; it's not the way to measure success. The experience is what's important.

    That's not how I'm playing the game, but it doesn't mean other people can't enjoy playing that way.
     
  2. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Very informative.

    I am still in the editing process of my manuscript and wondered about how to promote the story without spending too much. Someone here mentioned ideas about emailing libraries and local bookstores to see if they can sell the books for them which sounds very good to me. What are your thoughts on that?
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think personal connections (like to the local bookstores) are probably good things - I think you'd get better results from showing up in person than from e-mail, though.

    In terms of libraries? I used to work in a library and we wouldn't respond to e-mails from self-publishers - there were just too many of them. Some self-publishers sent actual physical books to us (I can't imagine the expense involved) in hopes that we'd shelve the copy, and I'd usually give the book a quick look-through, and then usually discard it. Occasionally I found one that I thought might fit into our collection and I'd take it home and read it, and then usually discard it part way through that process because I'd have found flaws. I don't think most libraries are going to shelve books they haven't selected themselves, especially if the books aren't absolutely perfect.

    I really don't have many suggestions for promo, especially of the free variety. I just don't know what works.
     
  4. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @Alex R. Encomienda, to get your books into bookstores, there are a number of things you have to do. First your book has to be available through Ingram, which supports indie authors to indie bookstores. It also helps to have your book available through Barnes & Noble, which means your book is in their catalogue, not their shelves. Buyers have to ask for it, before the stores will stock. Perhaps a local B&N will stock a few copies for you because you are a local. Likewise Ingram. Bookstores have to request copies of your book, for it to appear on their shelves. I can only speak to the Amazon process, but I have made both my books available through Createspace expanded distribution which does the above two channels. I recommend you NOT select that option at launch, as it jacks up the initial price of the paperback: launch cheap, expand later.

    eBooks can reach an expanded audience through Nook formats and Overdrive, which reaches library e-lending, but those channels are incompatible with Kindle Select, which for me, right now, gives me the best reach: my ebooks are free via Kindle unlimited (and I get more than my paid royalty), and I can use quarterly free or countdown promotions to reach a wide audience. Two five-day give aways resulted in 2200 downloads in 10 countries, and I don't want to give that up as they also resulted in a sharp uptick of paid sales afterward. For example, I sold one book in Australia on the first giveaway, and week later, after it ended, I sold three more there the same day, I think by word of mouth, and I continue to sell a few there every month.

    Both my books are in the local library, and I and about 20 other authors will have a reception and booksale next month, which hopefully will include some press coverage. But it goes without saying, you have to present them with a book of the highest quality: typos, poor layout, bad covers, and you will get what @BayView noted above. The editing phase you are in now is critical to the success of your book. No amount of advertising will sell a poor or unfinished product, and sadly, I have seen a lot of unfinished self-published books.

    I think bookstores will take a lot of effort to result in very few sales. You need to work outside of your immediate geographic area and circle of friends to make sales. Think about how many book adverts you personally respond to: one in a thousand, maybe one in ten thousand? Flip those numbers over, and that is how many strangers you have to reach to sell a single book. When you reach a certain number of sales, which I am far from reaching, but perhaps @BayView, our most prolific and successful author here, perhaps she is much closer to that number, then word of mouth begins to sell your books on their own. Compared to paid advertising, if your friend tells you that they just read this most fantastic book, it's right up your alley, you have to read it... well, the success rate for that is I think 1 in 10 to 1 in 100.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I coast on the promo my publishers do. My stuff that's self-pubbed under a different pen name has dismal sales... I have no idea how to effectively/efficiently promote self-published books without a pen name established through a publisher.
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    No matter, you are still our success story!
     
    Laurin Kelly likes this.

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