Happy Birthday, Book! You needy bastard.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Book! You needy bastard.

  1. Wow. I imagined that it would be a difficult process! Thanks for this information. I recently read a book, given to me thru the “Goodreads” giveaways. It was an e-book and independently published.My review was pretty harsh. The story didn’t lack imagination or creative ideas but rather it was just one long english teachers nightmare filled with everything from run-on sentences to switching between past and present tense in the same sentences. What does a person who is going thru this independently do about editing? Can you hire and editor? Where do you find one? Expensive? I only ask as I could of given this information to this obviously gifted but struggling writer and it seems as tho for many people editing would be a part of the publishing experience. Thanks for answering my questions. Look forward to reading your books! (On Goodreads and just won a copy. Waiting on my “want to read” list.

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    1. Hello Tina!

      Editing is part of the process of writing. You should definitely work on your writing to make sure that it says what you want it to say. If you’re having a hard time with that, hiring a copy editor would be a good idea. If your writing is full of errors, it’s cheaper to hire a copy editor than to risk the dismissal of your readers. I know if I’m reading something that has many errors in it, I stop reading. People read to be immersed in language, whether that’s lost in a suspense thriller or absorbed in a thoughtful piece of literature. This doesn’t happen when the language itself becomes an annoyance. You also lose the reader’s trust and you need that to tell any story. If a reader doesn’t think you know what you’re doing, you might as well pack it up and go home. If you’re a writer having this problem, you can find copy editors pretty easily online. It might cost a bit, but it’ll be worth it. I do suggest to that writer, however, that if your ability to put together a sentence is radically deficient, you might want to study some grammar yourself. Look at some of your favorite writers to see how they put together a sentence. I wouldn’t feel bad about giving a harsh review. Sometimes it’s what we need to grow.

      Thanks for the question! And I hope you enjoy the book!

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  2. Found myself here after just finishing A World Without Crows tonight. I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to find readers. I can barely get 3 people I know in real life to read a few paragraphs of flash fiction for free, and gave up years ago on convincing strangers to read something novel length.

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