A few weeks ago was the anniversary of the publication of The World Without Crows. I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I’ve learned about indie publishing in this year, and to talk about the future.
Publishing a book is an exciting, wonderful, fulfilling, rewarding pain in the ass. It’s great to get the book out there, to hear the reviews of many people who’ve read it, and to generally feel that all those hours of writing, planning, revising, writing again have meant something to someone. It’s a good feeling to know that people have responded to your work. Even the “meh” reviews are strangely gratifying. Since I’ve published the book, about 70 people have taken the time to write a review on Amazon. (As an interesting aside, this number goes up and down as Amazon drops reviews sometimes, I guess to keep fake reviews from being posted.) I always appreciate reviews. They keep me going.
It’s hard to get your books out there. And expensive. I have a side job as a freelance copy editor. I use all that money to promote the book. Book promotion, by far, at least for me, is the most aggravating part of publishing. Which is a real shame because publication is promotion. If you’re not going to work to get your book out there, you might as well not publish a word. Book promotion means you will spend money just to give out free copies of your book, which is the best way to get reviews. It means that you will have to investigate endlessly the best places and ways to do effective book promotion, which is a job in itself.
For those of you interested, I’ve learned a few lessons about this, which I will share with you. Since you’re still reading, I guess you care, so I’m going to continue. If you don’t care about book promotion, just skip ahead. Keep in mind this is my experience and perhaps there are exceptions. One of the big lessons I learned is not to use Twitter or Facebook. You have to spend money on book promotion, there’s no way around it, but spend it carefully. I don’t think I’ve ever had a successful promotion on Twitter or using Facebook ads. Don’t bother. It’s best to use book promotion sites like Books Butterfly. I feel like you get to real readers through email, so the best book promotion sites send out emails. The least effective, in my experience, are book promotions that take place primarily on Twitter. A great place to start if you’re looking for places to promote your book is here: Paid Author. They also offer online coupon codes, which is nice.
Be prepared to use these often. the thing about independently publishing a book is that it’s difficult to get your book noticed and out there. You can pay for book reviews from places like Kirkus Reviews, but it’s very expensive. You can spend thousands of dollars, easily, to promote a book. If you’re income is more modest, like mine, you’re best bet is probably free giveaways. Goodreads runs excellent giveaways and has a new program to giveaway 100 ebooks for about 120 dollars. In my opinion, this is a good investment. Goodreads folks are readers, and readers talk to readers. In my case, they are exactly the kind of people I want to give my book to. You can also giveaway your book on Amazon and then promote it through another site. This is really effective, but it’s difficult to say how many people actually read it, or if it creates effective word of mouth. Hard to say.
Another aspect of book promotions are reviews from book bloggers. Book bloggers, for the most part, are a great group of people who read your book and then write about it. If you’re lucky. This is a job I would not want to have. While you get tons of free books, I can’t imagine the constant work of going through them and producing reviews. I learned quickly that you should give yourself about six months before actual publication to do this. Book bloggers have a lot on their plates. If you’re wondering where to find book bloggers, here’s a great place: Indie Review
And herein we begin to see the rub. A book will take as much resources as you have to give it. It constantly demands attention. In reality, effective book promotion is a full time job. There are always ways to promote your book. While I have some time to give, I prefer to spend most of my time writing the next book and not running book promotions or angling for book reviews. It takes time and money, all that you can give. And then some. Like a child. A needy, spoiled little child.
Overall, however, I’m happy with the first year in the life of The World Without Crows. I got it into a lot of hands, it won an award from Indiebrag, and the reviews I get are good, sometimes great. I’m celebrating the anniversary with a book promotion, of course. From June 4th to June 11th, the book will be only 99 cents. If you prefer to wait a month for a chance to win it free, I plan on beginning a free giveaway of the Kindle version on Goodreads in the middle of June.
And it seems fitting to add that I’m currently hard at work writing the sequel, The World Without Flags. Keep watching this space for more news!
So happy birthday, The World Without Crows! Here’s hoping your next year is just as rewarding as your first!
Just don’t annoy me so much, please. I’m trying to work.