As I approach release day for book two I’ve been trying to think of ways to promote my novel without hitting people over the head with it. By now you know I’m not the type to employ the hard sell. Linking to my book on Twitter makes me cringe, even though my screen is full of other authors doing just that. I would much rather link to an interview I’ve done or to bonus content on my blog than the plain old retail page.
So I’ve tried to be creative. With one book already under my belt, I have a general idea of what works and what doesn’t. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going on another blog tour. I didn’t want to pay money to post an ad on a website that caters to authors posting ads on their website.
A lady that I know has taken a certain interest in my writing career. I guess you could call it that, though I can’t remember her ever asking me the genre of books that I write or what the names of them are; she just knows that they are fiction. And I’m too modest to brazenly plug my wares. But we have had some fascinating discussions about self-publishing, royalty rates, websites and e-readers. Also Halloween costumes, but that’s another story entirely. I appreciate her interest and her enthusiasm, so I roll with it. She suggested doing a press release.
I’m of the school of thought that posting a press release on one of those free press release sites is much like randomly posting a link to your book on Twitter. Most people won’t give a darn. I took her idea a step further and reached out personally to both major newspapers and television stations in my hometown. This means I wrote four emails, personally addressing the individuals and telling them why my book was relevant and why they should be interested in learning more about it.
This was two weeks ago. I am still waiting for responses from three of them. I’m not bitter; I’m surprised that I got one bite.
The lady that did write me back (the features editor from one of the newspapers) was very courteous. She congratulated me on my accomplishment and indicated that she would post a small blurb in their weekly section covering arts and entertainment. I was beyond happy; I’ll take whatever press I can get. However, she told me that they had done a story about self-pubbed authors in the past and now that so many people were doing that, they had no plans to run a feature article about any self-published authors in the future. Fair enough.
But it got me thinking. Obviously, the self-publishing market has exploded over the past couple of years. Everyone knows that; I won’t insult your intelligence. But how many self-pubbed types reside in my corner of Indiana? I’m not talking about the people who slap something up on Smashwords so that their friends and family can read it, or publish just because they can. I mean the ones who, like me, take it at least somewhat seriously and market and blog and actually try to make a career out of it.
I consulted Google because that’s where everyone does their preliminary research these days. I searched for “self-published authors in Fort Wayne, Indiana” and came up with nothing. Not even little old me. So the truth is, I don’t know.
What I did find was an interesting article about an event that our local library has held for the past few years involving local authors. Various authors from our community convene at our library to speak about their books and to even sell a few. The event started off small, but last year grew to about 40 featured authors. Yes, self-pubbed types were represented, though the blurb sounded more like it was geared to those in print rather than e-book only. Part of the allure for the authors there was to have copies of their books available for sale – if I had been a published author when it was held last year, would I have brought my laptop and had people buy my novel from their vendor of choice?
But I digress. What I found interesting was that 40 authors showed up and this was a record turnout. That’s awesome for everyone involved. And those are probably my peers, people who genuinely take their writing seriously and have pipe dreams of being one of the few that makes millions off of their creativity. Granted, I’m sure not all serious authors from our area knew about the event, or maybe they did but their schedules didn’t permit them to attend.
Let’s put that into perspective. Fort Wayne is a rather large city. Though most people outside of Indiana have never heard of it (or if they have, they think it’s a military base – it’s not), we still boast a population of about 250,000 people. If you look at it that way, 40 serious authors doesn’t seem like a lot. Even if you double that or multiply it by 10, that’s not a huge portion of our population. It’s hardly everyone doing it.
The moral of the story is that I’m still pretty obscure and that Fort Wayne isn’t exactly the self-publishing capital of the world. But I tried, darn it. Maybe if I do hit it big and make a million dollars off of my series, I’ll get my feature article.
But for now, it’s back to the drawing board.