Monday, March 22, 2010

Why and How?

The whole family have been sick over the weekend so I've been doing more reading and floating about in forums than I have writing or anything useful.  I seem to see the same things over and over again.  People questioning why on earth anyone would want to self publish or people wondering what you have to do to get noticed and to sell some books.  The same questions are posed by so many people but there are no magic answers.  People have different reasons for going down the indie route just like success has come in different ways for so many indie writers.

Personally, I think I don't have the personality for trad publishing.  There are so many traditionally published books that aren't great but they are marketable.  I don't think I could watch someone take my words and change them from something that means a great deal to me to something that means a little to a lot of people.  Some of the things I've written are aimed at a wide enough audience - teenagers, who are amazing by the way, talk about instant gratification and it is the younger generations who are being reared on digital formats.  Look at how many people use ebook applications and Wattpad alone has a massive amount of users, most of whom are in their teens.  They will be the ones supporting writers in years to come.  There is a huge market out there that is pretty much untapped at the moment, all things considered.  In fact, I'm thinking why wouldn't you get an ebook out there right now when we're on the brink of something huge?

But, not everything I write is aimed at such a large number of people and I would like to keep it that way.  The only way I can is by doing everything myself.  I love the control - probably says more about me than anything else.  I love writing for the readers rather than an editor or a publisher or a publicist.  I love that I can get feedback from anyone who has read my work and make changes any time I like based on this.  I love how interactive it all is and how much I've learned from trying every aspect of what is entailed in self publishing ebooks.  Which is more fun than you would expect.  Except for promoting and marketing your work which leads me on to that second question.  What do you have to do to get noticed around here?

Okay, I'm not as serious about it as other people.  I will never make money from this.  I'm like the little old woman in the shoe with all the smallies I have running around so I don't have the time or money to invest in promoting myself properly.  I know that and I'm happy enough with it.  But for a lot of people, they only feel like they are a real writer if they are selling a lot of books.  And how are they doing this?  By making sure that their work is seen, for the most part.  Don't expect to upload your manuscript and that hundreds of people will automatically find you.  How on earth are they supposed to get to your book?  And if they do find, why should they buy it?

There are lots and lots of communities for ebook writers.  The idea is for the writer to involve themselves in the forum and get a chance to read people who might actually be interested in their work.  Let's face it, if someone who has amusing things to say on a regular basis tells you they have written a book then you are going to be a lot more curious about it than if a writer burst in, posts about their book once and is never seen or heard from again.  The internet is a rare opportunity to really reach people and I've seen people take new writers and books under their wings and really promote those writers and books even though they have nothing to gain from it.  Sometimes people invest a real interest in a book and want the writer to succeed.  You can't fake this kind of thing.  It has to occur naturally.  And it can take people years to be really, truly noticed and valued. 

There are lots of other things you can do like join Authonomy or Inkpop or do a big press release or purchase advertising, do blog tours and the whole deal.  But there are lots of smaller things you can do to.  Like blog.  Such a useful thing to do.  But again, with a blog, you need to put the time in and you need to promote that blog.  You need to visit other blogs and establish relationships with people.  Trust me, it works but it takes time and effort and cuts into your writing time.  But it gets your name out there which ultimately is something you want to do.  There are also those places like Feedbooks that enable you to upload free stories.  These places get a huge amount of downloads so you are reaching a larger audience and if your work is good, they are more likely to look for more.  You can upload free stories on Smashwords and Wattpad and probably lots of other places too but Wattpad is for a certain type of story and Smashwords are bringing out ISBNs as a requirement to be eligbile for the Premium Catalog which might change the whole game over there.

The nicest places for authors that I use are Kindle Boards - who freely allow you to advertise within reason - and the Amazon Communities who now have a dedicated Kindle Author Community which is really nice.  There is also MobileRead, Author's Den and probably half a million other places that are brilliant, I just don't have time for them all!  And don't forget about Twitter.  Although it doesn't really feel me with joy, I have clicked on a lot of links to blog posts and short stories and even author interviews over there.  Every little helps.  Also potentially useful are social networking sites like Facebook and I think writing groups are often excellent although I'm not part of one at the moment.

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