Indie Publishing, Three Years and Counting

I’m still here, even though I’ve been pretty quiet lately.

I haven’t posted much in the last year, especially about self-publishing, because I didn’t feel as though I had much to contribute. I’d pretty much shared what I had to say in my post about that first year, and all the decisions that a newbie had to make. But now that I’ve been on this path for a little over three years, I feel like I have a new set of choices. One of the big ones is: how much and what kind of publicity is enough?

This is actually an old decision revisited. Within a few months of starting out, I’d taken to heart the advice that the best promotion is getting the next book out. The corollary to that is to wait until you have five or six books out (some sources even say ten) preferably in a series, before you start trying to do any serious promotion. I wasn’t that hardcore, nor was I that patient. I ran quite a few free promotions and .99 sales on several different books. Some worked better than others, and they all worked better when I paid for an ad to advertise the promotion. But over the months I noticed that the sales became less effective, not only for selling books, but also for generating reader reviews. (Thank you, every single one of you, who has bought and reviewed one of my books!) And over time I found that the additional revenues were eaten up by the cost of the ads.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to Indie publishing, this isn’t news to you.

One of the immutable laws of business is: adapt or die. So I tried a few things like writing a newsletter, updating my metadata, and my product descriptions, both of which helped sales  a little, though not much. About five months ago I decided to give advertising a rest and focus on writing. I was pleased to note that even without “goosing” sales with promotions, my sales held steady and even improved a teensy bit.

Teensy isn’t good enough, though. Now that I have six novels out (three of which are in a series), I think it’s time to get more serious about getting eyeballs on my books. I’ve been researching what has works and I decided to experiment with some of the techniques that Nick Stephenson recommends in his book, READER MAGNETS: Get Readers to Come to You. While not over promising, the results he reports sound pretty impressive, so it’s worth my time to give it a go, I think. It also seems to be a good fit with the 80/20 rule. (Getting that 80% of results from the most effective 20% of effort.)

I’ll let you know how it goes. And if you don’t want to wait, go buy Stephenson’s book for yourself. I’d love to hear how it works for you. I’d also love to hear from the other authors out there what you’ve done to get the word out. What do you think REALLY works?

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I you live in the Tucson area, be sure to check out the TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS this coming weekend, March 14-15. Over 300 authors will be speaking, along with many food vendors and live music. I’ll be speaking Saturday afternoon at 4:00 on a panel with several other authors about the differences between Indie and traditional publishing. I hope to see you there

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I’m planning something special for the wonderful people who subscribe to my newsletter, so make sure you sign up!

 

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