Promotional Woes 03/05/21

My new novella, Tomahawk, will be out next week. I will post a link to it whenever it launches.

I sent it to my half-dozen friends and readers, people who I knew would give me their honest opinions on it. I made all the changes suggested, gave it another once-over for typos, and sent it on its way.

This process always feels a little scary. I started writing this version in earnest about a month ago. Now it’s going to be out in the world. That seems like too quick of a turnaround time, right?

Well, not really.

The way the publishing industry works is unnecessarily slow. First you have to send the book out to an agent, who then attempts to sell it. That takes about a year at least. From there, it goes to the publisher, who sets their editors on it. Not editors that you get a say in, by the way, but people who have their own tastes, who are largely editing the book to their own tastes. Then there’s another year or so of waiting. Then the book comes out, and it sells or it doesn’t.

Barring the fact that almost no major publisher is going to release a 106-page book, let alone the third in a series of ~100 page books, and it no longer makes any sense to sit on it. It’s good, the focus group likes it, so it might as well exist.

Taking into account the fact that no publisher is going to release a 106-page book, let alone the third in a series of ~100-page books, and it no longer makes any sense to sit on it. The focus group liked it, it’s clean, might as well put it out into circulation.

This kind of freedom does have its drawbacks. I’m no longer on Facebook or Twitter. I post Stories on Instagram, but that’s about it. I have no outlet for the new book, no real way to make people hear about it besides this book, my podcast, and my newsletter. All three of which I’ll utilize to get the word out.

The amount of people who’ve ended up reading my books is pretty small. My first novel sold about 4,000 copies (over the course of ten years), my second sold about 1,500 (not counting the numbers it did in France, which…I don’t think it really sold much), and Black Gum moved 1,273 (plus the 400 or so who downloaded it for free when I released it). I know that number exactly because it’s the first book I completely self-released. A Minor Storm sold a staggeringly low 123 copies so far. Damn. I didn’t realize it was that low. Can that be right? Hm. Kind of a bummer, I suppose.

I can make myself feel better with the knowledge that the books are at least being pirated. Last I checked, BG had about 500 downloads on the one site that actually reports numbers, so all told it’s probably been “acquired” one way or the other between 2,500 and 3,000 times. No idea about Minor Storm, though. Did I put that one out for free for a time? I can’t remember.

Well anyway, I guess that doesn’t bode well for Tomahawk’s numbers, but that’s okay. I’ll get back on the horse eventually. The key is to keep writing, and gradually build my way back up. 2010 was a different time. People were excited about the scene, they talked about books, yadda yadda yadda.

Somewhere along the line though, I realized that I’d never made a good-faith effort to make writing a full-time gig. Not in the place of other full-time gigs, but in addition to them. That’s what I’ll continue to do. Dying World is at ~10k words right now, and it’s just getting started. So that’ll be closer to a proper novel when it’s all said and done.

I don’t know, I’m still a little bummed about those AMS numbers. I’m finding this out in real-time as I’m writing this. If anyone has any good ideas for how to get the word out, outside of social media, I’m listening! Maybe I’ll put out a package of all three books that folks can download for free. Then do the same with the next two books. That might be good. Maybe it’s one of those things where people have to see that it’s an actual series before they commit. I mean, one novella, then a three-year break doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Good thing I’m writing again. Thanks, blog.

The goal, as I see it, is to reach the “1000 True Fans” model. At that point, I can make a decent supplemental income with the books. The publishing strategies I have are rock solid. It’s the promotion bits that I’m struggling with.

It is time to brainstorm…

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