For Dragontamer’s Daughters, I had thought that writing the book was the hardest work to be done, but once I published it (itself no easy task), I found that I had to promote it. Here, for the interest of the curious and the benefit of other self-published authors, are some of my experiences with getting out the word on DTD.
I’m just one guy with a well-paying job but a lot of bills (I do have a kid in college, you know), so I didn’t have a huge budget to spend on advertising. First off, I spent a lot of time visiting blogs of other self-published authors, to see what worked and didn’t work for them. I learned quite a bit, and since June 2012 (when I released the book), I’ve:
- Featured it on the front page of my personal site;
- Started a Facebook fan page for it and invited others to join;
- Advertised for a month on FB (got a lot of “Likes,” but few sales from that–in retrospect, it wasn’t worth the investment);
- Mentioned it frequently in my personal FB updates;
- Featured it on my (very popular) Warhammer 40K site;
- Donated copies to my local libraries and middle schools;
- Was interviewed by the Kent Island Bay Times, the local newspaper (article to be run in July 2012–hopefully);
- Drafted and sent press releases to larger newspapers like the Baltimore Sun and Annapolis Capital (no nibbles from them thus far);
- Researched and sent copies to popular book review blogs (some have accepted; reviews are in process and will be posted TBD); and,
- Announced that I will donate 100% of my profits from sales in July 2012 to a local charity.
I’ll also give away free copies at goodreads.com soon.
There are more expensive avenues I could take, like advertising on goodreads or paying for a review at Kirkus Indie, but I’ll pass. It’s not because I’m cheap, but because I’ve learned (through others, fortunately) that there’s a whole mini-industry devoted to parting a self-published author from his cash. No, thanks.
Going into this, one of my biggest hopes was that I could promote DTD as a Big Idea feature on sci-fi writer John’s Scalzi’s extremely-popular Whatever blog (which I’ve followed for several years). I spent an entire afternoon in a deep funk when I double-checked the requirements and learned that self-published books aren’t eligible. Methinks the reason for that is crap control, because (as I’ve learned), there’s a well-deserved stigma out there in the book writing/publishing/reviewing world that self-published books are usually crap (I found many book-review sites don’t want them, either).
I don’t think DTD is crap, but I don’t blame Scalzi or the other folks who want nothing to do with self-published books: that’s just the way things are. Going forward, I’ll try to find new ways to tell people about DTD, and I hope some of the folks who buy and read it will pass along a good word to others. It’s been an uphill climb so far, but not entirely unenjoyable. My only real complaint is that I seem to be spending every spare minute lately working on promoting the book, and when I do get a moment of free time, I don’t know what to do with myself.
At the very least, I’m learning a lot, and I’m getting inspired to get back to work on my next writing project. But that’ll have to wait for a little while….