I promised to be completely transparent about my self-publishing process, so I must truthfully report that my novel, my sixth, Wives of the Saints, which I released a little over a month ago, is tanking, big time. However, I have not done one whit of marketing or promotion for it, so it’s a little miraculous that I’ve managed to sell 10 copies of it—yes, that’s it, one paperback (which my sister bought) and nine Kindle versions. So everyone who’s been telling me that they bought my book…well, some of you are fibbing. And one thing I’ve learned from being involved in a number of writer’s groups, is that other writers will not buy your book, even if you buy theirs. So I’m going to stop doing that. Marketing to other writers is just dumb, anyway.
So I botched my book launch, but partly on purpose, because I was genuinely curious to see what would happen if I did absolutely nothing to promote it in a meaningful way. I guess I was hoping the book might miraculously take flight on its own. Ha! But I was also hamstrung by Amazon’s lordly insistence on absolute fealty and fidelity before I could take advantage of their damnably effective advertising and marketing programs. They are demanding I renounce my alliance with the kingdom of NetGalley. I wanted to run it through NG for at least six weeks because I’ve had good experience with that program, and it always results in quality reviews. And I have been receiving very good reviews, only a small portion of which have been posted publicly on Amazon and Goodreads. But if you were hoping to score a free copy off NetGalley…Too late. I’m already in the process of having it taken down. You win, Amazon.
But regarding those promotions…There will be NO freebie copies of this book available again—ever. I decided to take a stand with this one, and refuse to give it away. This book was art, it was a pleasure to write, but it was also work. Does a serious artist give away his canvases, in order to sell more canvases? Does a streetwalker give out free blow jobs? So if you’re waiting for the giveaway promotion…Not happening, though I will do my usual St. Patrick’s Day giveaway for my Irish history titles, The Raven Girl, et al. And I’m not completely inflexible. I will stoop to doing a few discount promotions for Wives, maybe later this year, as if a four-dollar e-book would break anyone’s budget. I’m going to start with some full-blown advertising, and am looking forward to experimenting with key words. Next time you turn on your Kindle, my book may be staring you in the face.
So I’m not too broken up about the lack of sales, because it was inevitable and at this point, I realize most of it is beyond my control. Plenty of other authors in the same boat, both traditional and independent. Did you notice there was no ‘breakout’ novel in 2016? It’s all about seasons and market saturation and reader fatigue, and only so many people willing to read so many books, and no really good way for the cream to rise to the top. I’ve also learned that having a blog that gets lots of hits and occasionally goes viral doesn’t really seem to help either: Comments and ‘likes’ are nice, but I really want you to check out my books.
So to all you marketing and promotion gurus clogging my electronic in-box, you smug mediocre ‘NY Times Bestselling List’ authors, when it comes right down to it, there really is very little most independent authors can do to make their book sell. Especially if they did not write the best book they could in the first place. And hence the nonsense about publishing book after book, three, four, five books a year, in an effort to magnify those minuscule sales of five to ten per month into something only slightly more substantial. All you’re doing is making things worse, clogging up the system. Yeah, I don’t think I want to play this game much longer.
The other reason I’ve been ignoring ‘Wives’ is because I’m so caught up in my current non-fiction writing project. More on that later. This is going to be a completely different type of literary adventure, one with a far satisfying ending, I hope. In any event, I plan not to be flogging it on Amazon…