Posts Tagged ‘Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group’

Market Sense

February 24, 2013

Statue in Fog
Marketing your own work is often compared to trying to sail in thick fog. It’s hard to know where you’re going. / AP photo

How Do You Market a Book by Yourself?
I went to the monthly meeting of The Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group last Tuesday.

It’s a local group that meets the third Tuesday of every month (except December) to discuss the business of writing.

I look forward to it, because I learn something about the business every time I go … even if it’s something eye-opening about myself.

This month we talked quite a bit about self-publishing, and I mentioned the difficulty of marketing your own work.

I truly believe the best marketing is still word-of-mouth … but how do you get people started talking? It often feels like sailing around in a dense fog.

When I had finished my novel, Reichold Street, I thought it was good, but then, why wouldn’t I? It was my creation, after all. Sort of like having a literary child.

And, although it’s not really her kind of book, my wife thought it was pretty good, too. While that did wonders for my ego, it doesn’t sell books.

The Traditional or Indie Way?
I knew most traditional publishers today won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, so an agent is a requirement for entry; but I think most new writers have heard the tales about finding a reputable agent. It’s a chore unto itself.

It can take months or years and, even if you’re fortunate enough to find one willing to take a chance on you, there’s no guarantee of finding a publisher equally willing.

I’m not a total newbie. I’ve written articles for a major international company (although I’m not sure a literary agent would care). I even had a few fiction credits over the years. But the bylines for my fiction were dated and few … and not exactly awe-inspiring.

Then there’s my age. I’m no spring chicken. Not even a late summer one. I’m fast becoming a gristled old rooster. I had retired from the nine-to-five routine and was writing because … well, because I had to.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid because there’s something in me that demands it. I sent my first story off to collect a rejection letter when I was a teenager and I still have stories in my head that I need to write.

Need to.

So, I took the indie leap.

Ernest Hemingway’s famous quote about writing a book tells it pretty much like it is: There’s nothing to it. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

But I discovered going indie is a mini MBA program unto itself. You’ll never learn more about the publishing business than doing it yourself.

Writing can be difficult, but being your own editor is chore I don’t recommend to the faint of heart. Neither is converting it to the proper electronic formats. It’s boring and tedious … and you miss a lot when you try to polish your own work.

It took me several iterations to get it right.

The Really Hard Part
But as hard as all of that seemed, it (pardon the cliche) pales in comparison to trying to market your own book.

I had very little social media experience before publishing my own novel. I had built a web site for collecting old cameras, and started a little-used blog about photography that has morphed into the one you’re reading now.

I’ve discovered trying to build a presence on Facebook, Twitter (you can follow me there @ronherron) and Goodreads has a steep learning curve. I often feel like a hamster on a wheel, running to keep up with things that don’t always seem to be taking me anywhere.

I put a couple of books … my short-story collections Zebulon and Tinker … into Kindle Select the other day. They’re exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. I also used the Amazon free promotion program for each of them.

Zebulon had 125 free downloads in three days, and I’m waiting to find out if the Select program helps with sales (I’ll let you know what happens).

One of the new visitors to the writing group suggested I try to schedule school and library visits; perhaps even do a reading. It makes sense. I’d have to do it even if I wasn’t an indie author.

It will take some effort on my part to get the word out. I already know I can’t depend on social media to do it for me, but I need something to stimulate sales or I’ll be turning out more blogs than books.

So I’ve decided to get off my duff and do the legwork (although I may wait for Spring, when there isn’t so much snow).

I’d welcome any comments you have.

Oh, I did manage to write six-thousand more words on my next novel since my last post. That’s why I feel OK about blogging again so soon. I’m an indie author … and proud of it.

All things considered, it’s a great time to be a writer.

The Official Book Trailer for the Award-Winning “Reichold Street” –


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