I have proclaimed this the year of me. I have spent nearly four years building a publishing company, long hours scanning, formatting, copy-editing, marketing, networking, convincing new people to join us, helping people – and now, looking back – I can see where my own career has been on a slow but steady downhill slide. I’ve had some successes, but no time to take advantage of them, and I’m still writing and publishing regularly, but without traction.
This year also marks our discovery of a number of new and very viable promotional vehicles, and, while I will be pushing ALL of my authors through these and doing everything in my power to make each and every one of them a success, I will also be doing a major push on my own work.
All writers go through periods of self-doubt…it’s hard to get credible feedback, it’s even harder to believe positive feedback in the face of a lack of sales success. I’ve had some short bouts with this, but, overall, the awards, the reviews, the connections with fans, authors, and even the narrators who have brought my work to audio, have convinced me that I have more than enough talent to succeed as a writer. What I need, is that break. I’m going to make it happen…this year.
Part of that process will involve a series of posts here on my blog. One book at a time, I’m going to go through my entire library. There will be giveaways. There will be some free days for a few books. There will be copies of some reviews, probably some guest posts…but this year – my blog will be about 3/4 about my writing career…maybe more than that.
I have worked up to over 6,000 “followers” on Twitter. I have nearly 5,000 “fans” on my author’s page on Facebook, and more than 2,000 more on my personal page. Of all those people, I’m willing to bet that less than 1/4 of them have ever read anything that I’ve written except in posts like this, or on one or another social media sites. I know this is normal – it’s the way it all works. No one can read everything, and a lot of those friends and followers are busy pushing their careers, beating the brush for promotions, hustling and whistling from the shadows, opening up long trench coats full of books for the world to peruse … whatever it takes.
Still, I want to catch your attention. All of you – you know who you are, even if you aren’t reading this. You vaguely know me by name, or might even know I’m a writer. Some know I wrote Star Trek, or Stargate, or for the White Wolf Gaming company back in the day. Others know Donovan DeChance, or Cletus…still others have read my short fiction in a lot of anthologies where they liked the story (or didn’t) but forgot the names of all authors not King, Koontz, Barker, etc. shortly after reading and moved on to the next one.
Along the way my peers gave me the Bram Stoker Award twice, once for poetry, and once for my short story “The Gentle Brush of Wings.” I have been nominated for other categories, and never won. That’s not important. What’s important is that i string up the holiday lighting, get my name in neon, and find those boat-loads of readers following the literary powerhouses and steer them my way. I’ve written, very nearly, every kind of book you can imagine, from young adult, to children’s picture books, to cookbooks, science fiction, fanatasy, horror, mystery, thrillers – I write all the time, you see.
Next up, maybe as soon as tomorrow, will be the novel KILLER GREEN – based on the screenplay created on Twitter with a bunch of friends, and written right here on my blog – shared with the world – semi-famous, optioned, never produced – you know the one. KILLER GREEN. The novelization of that screenplay will hit the streets and I will let it lead the way as I push into this year of me. By the time I’m done, those paying attention will know more about my writing than they ever wanted to…OR…I’ll have picked up some new readers and fans. That is the hope.
I this guy, see, who likes to tell stories. I can entertain you – if you let me. I can draw you in, if you step over the threshold. I’m here for you…readers of the world. Let’s party.
There are a lot of similarities between the marketing of an eBook, and the marketing of an audiobook, particularly if that audiobook is done as a digital download. There are also huge differences. Nearly everyone reads. They might not do it by choice, but you just can’t get through life without it. Listening to audiobooks is an acquired taste – an experience many have blockages against – prejudices preventing them from giving it a fair chance. I wrote recently about not making smaller boxes out of those you already have for marketing. Audiobooks are already constrained by their own box. There are fewer listeners than readers, though the audience is growing slowly.
There are fewer large, commercial review outlets for audio. The old-school audiobook community is a very literary community. While there are big markets for genre audio, the real attention goes to celebrity and award-winning narrators, NYC commercial authors, and publishers with deep pockets. Advertising, banquets, even a simple nomination for an award that is supposed to be for the best in the field – cost a lot of money. It’s an infrastructure built through the old publishing industry, where audio was expensive, very few titles were commercial enough to make it through the studio, and for those that were deeply involved, there was money enough to sustain all of the above. There still is – at the top – but the business is expanding, and if those of us doing audio at a lower financial level are going to compete, we’re going to have to have a bigger boat, and we’ll have to build it ourselves. Anyone know how to measure in cubits?
There is good news. New review sites have cropped up. There is a site – The Audiobook Jukebox – that aggregates reviews from other sites, and from blogs, and they index them for easy access. ACX – the program that has made audio possible for so many that it was not possible for before – has made the acquisition of review copies easy, and they actively encourage promotion through social media, blogging, networking, and other means, and they are knowledgeable, incredibly helpful folks.
That said, don’t put down your tools. We still need that boat and it has to be one big mother ICEBREAKER of a boat. We have serious walls to break down, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. I’m going to start with just a couple of points and see if we can work up some discussion.
1) Unless you have Deep pockets, do not concentrate your efforts on the old-school marketing techniques for audio. It’s a tough sell, even if you get yourself involved, and it’s unlikely you will overcome the “editors choices” and sponsored titles unless you are independently wealthy.
2) Do not separate your audiobook marketing from your eBook and print book marketing. Amazon has a new program called whispersync. While there are still pricing issues with this, encourage people to pick up the audio AND the eBook when you can.
3) Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Study your book. Figure out who would sound best doing it. Research voice talent and cast the best possible voice. This is critical. As a publisher, I made a few bad mistakes early on, and those books have suffered. Don’t skimp on editing. Listen to your book if possible yourself, and if not, find someone else with the time to do it. Test your voice talent across the range of characters. When you offer a sample to be auditioned, try to include as much diversity in that sample as possible.
4) Include your audio – and if possible your narrator – in marketing material. Talk about the experience of the audiobook while you are marketing. interview the narrator if you get a chance. In other words, network.
The old world of audio treated narrators the same way tie-in and licensed novel markets treat authors. You do the work, they pat you on the back, and you move on to the next project. The new paradigm calls for teamwork; it’s now possible for authors and narrators to share the risk, and the possible success, of a project. For that to happen, you also have to share the marketing…it’s likely that if they are not a major voice talent, the narrator will have a smaller fan base – but listen up. THEIR fan base all listens to audiobooks. The odds are only a small percentage of an author’s fan base does the same. Work together. Be creative. Try to do interviews, and always – ALWAYS include the synopsis, the audio sample, and (broken record again) one-click-to-buy link.
I open this to the floor but here is what I’m looking for. What are good ways to get more people to listen to audiobooks? Where can we turn to market that is not being covered now? What is the key to building the new audiobook infrastructure – not trying to retool the small, stuffy box that surrounds audio now, but to build something big – new – part of the digital revolution? More to follow shortly, upcoming video marketing tactics from https://themarketingheaven.com/shop/youtube-likes/ will enlighten you on some contemporary means of advertising anything these days with the luxury of video.
Next post will be a report on how some eBook promotions we have tried, and are trying, stack up – and why. You will notice that I have included two one-click-to-buy linked images in this post. The first, Aliens in the Backyard, is currently our best-selling audio title at Crossroad Press. This title will is narrated by Kevin Pierce, and will also be featured in that next post, so stay tuned. Trish & Rob MacGregor have written a number of very cool books, fiction and non fiction, and run a blog where they talk about Synchronicity. The second book – INTERMUSINGS – is a collection of stories that I’ve written over the years in collaboration with others. My co-creators include Brian Hopkins, Patricia Lee Macomber, John B. Rosenman, Rich Rowand, Stephen Mark Rainey & Brett Alexander Savory. The narrator – Mr. John Lee – is a world class talent and one of my all-time favorite narrators. His rendering of the story in this collection “The Purloined Prose” is worth the price of the book.
These stories represent decades of collaboration between author David Niall Wilson and a wide array of talented authors. All have been professionally published – some have been reprinted and collected. All are the result of two muses meeting on paper. Meet a modern day Don Quixote, fighting Y2K bug nightmares, and striving to save the woman of his dreams. Learn how Edgar Allen Poe might have found his tales. Face off on a lonely mountaintop with Lovecraftian nightmares. Join a young man in a ghostly race to save a relative from cancer. Follow a cross-wired detective in his hunt for a lycanthropic killer bent on ending every serial killer she encounters. See what might happen when two minds fall into “balance”.
What if Dr. Watson was the client…and someone who was dead – was not quite there? Visit a science-fiction future where artists capture images in crystals. What if government control over sex and reproduction got out of control? Listen as a piano man drops back into the nightmares of his past. Finally – a sailor on his way home finds a place even farther away than he ever dreamed.
These are the tales of Intermusings – previously published as Joined at the Muse. This new audio edition includes an Introduction by David Niall Wilson on the art of collaboration, and a sneak preview of the first chapter of the collaborative novel Hallowed Ground by Steven Savile & David Niall Wilson.
- Introduction by David Niall Wilson
- “A Poem of Adrian, Gray” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “The Purloined Prose” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “A Wreath of Clouds” – with Stephen Mark Rainey
- “Moon Like a Gambler’s Face” – with Ricard Rowand
- “La Belle Dame, Sans Merci” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “La Belle Dame, Sans Regret” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “Ribbons of Darkness Over Me” – with Brett A. Savory
- “Death Did Not Become Him” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “Within an Image, Dancing” – with John B. Rosenman
- “Virtue’s Mask” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “Sing a Song of Sixth Sense” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “Deliver Us From Meeble” – with Brian Keene
ALIENS IN THE BACKYARD:
In the early morning hours of March 28, 2011, Charles and Helene Fontaine experienced something that shattered their beliefs about the nature of reality.
One evening in 1981, Connie J Cannon was on I-75 with her young son, en route to their new home in Florida, when they suddenly found themselves on a military base, with a man in uniform holding a gun to her head as three Grays stood nearby.
In 1979, Diane Fine was on her way from upstate New York to Vermont to see an obstetrics specialist for her high risk pregnancy, and experienced two hours of missing time. When she was finally examined at the clinic, she was told wasn’t pregnant.
In 1970, pilot Bruce Gernon was chased by something through the Bermuda Triangle and he has been talking about it ever since – to UFO Hunters, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, the Sci-Fi channel, and all their foreign counterparts.
These individuals have never met. But they share something significant. In 2003, a Roper Organization survey revealed that 33 million Americans may be abductees. Aliens in the Backyard is their story.
Let me preface this by saying I’m not a guru. I’m an author with around 30 years experience in and around publishing. I own one of the fastest growing and closest-to-the-cutting-edge publishing houses going. I pay attention, and I have thoughts. I can back my thoughts up with observation, experience, and common sense…but take all that with a grain of salt. What worked yesterday might not today, what works today could shift tomorrow with the release of some new tool…
1. Visibility is the key. By this I do not mean visibility to other authors, to your circle of friends, but visibility to people who have never heard of you and who are actual potential buyers for books. The key to building a readership and expanding it into crazy numbers is finding your way out of all the little ponds that try to entice you in to “share and market” and cutting to the surface of the bigger pond. If your book can be made visible to a very large number of prospective buyers, sales will rise.
2. Marketing services that do not provide hard numbers on what their service has done in the past for actual sales of books are shaky at best, and likely to be avoided. If you are offered marketing that promises more “friends” – “followers” – stat-counter hits on your website, etc., but no evidence of sales, move on. It is now an industry unto itself, this building of inconsequential numbers – half of whom don’t even represent real people, and the other half of whom are others trying to get the same group to buy their book. Invest your time and money wisely when marketing.
3. One-click-to-buy. (You will see clever examples at the top and bottom of this post) This is crucial in today’s market, and particularly for eBooks. There are millions of eBooks out there, many by talented, successful, famous people. You have to win your sales from the same pool of buyers as all the rest. If your book appears anywhere that there are potential buyers, make sure you come as close to one-click-to-buy as is humanly possible. People will not remember and search you later, they will move on. Take them to a product page. If you hand out cards, flyers, take out print magazine ads – include a QR code they can scan with their phone camera and buy. Miss no opportunity for a cover image with a one-click-to-buy link.
4. Do not get caught up in the madness of “shrinking boxes”. Example. You have a personal Facebook account, and a second “Fan” page where you promote your writing. Each of these has a set number of “viewers” – your ‘friends,” and those who ‘like” your fan page. I won’t get into the questionable value of marketing again and again to your friends, but I will say this. The two pages are enough. If you create “events” or ‘groups’ or a new page for every new book you ‘launch’ with a special launch party, those are smaller boxes carved from the same people you are already marketing to. You can ride the shaky ship on your Fan page of paying FB to ‘promote’ it, but experience has shown that mostly this gets you onto pages that are not even real people, or onto the timelines of people who scream “why did you post your spam on my timeline!!!?” when it was actually FB who did it. Promote your books on a single fan page. Announce events there too. Don’t invite your boxes to be annoyed with you or carve their numbers down to smaller, and smaller groups. Announce and promote on your fan page and actively encourage those who see the posts to share them on THEIR timelines, which actually engages their Box of ‘friends’ and legitimizes the contact by becoming more credible. You want to grow the number of people seeing your links, not shrink it.
5. Cover art. It is important that the cover of your eBook look as slick and professional as possible. Never sacrifice cool for efficiency. The title, and your name, should be visible at the size of a postage stamp. Clever fonts, really busy art images, things that a small circle find cool and the rest of the world will be offended by – avoid. At all costs. You want people to see – know what it is – be attracted. Do not buy into the notion that putting a fancy new cover on your book will sell more copies of the book. If your book has no visibility, and you change your cover, but you do nothing to change the visibility – no one is going to see the new cover and it isn’t going to matter at all. It’s important to HAVE a good cover, but as marketing tool cover art is secondary at best.
6. PR Services or “experts” – see tip #2. Do not shovel money into the pockets of self-appointed gurus. If they have built a huge following on Social Media, ask them to give you a percentage of those contacts that are actually readers buying books. Ask for a percentage that is just other authors buying in and hoping for sales. Ask for proof that you at least have real potential, with their help, to sell enough books to cover the cost of their service. The waters are full of sharks, but they are also filled with leeches. In the old publishing model, most of the money went to the publisher, then a percentage went to the agent, and the smallest amount went to the author. In the new model, people are trying to divvy up that old publisher’s cut and leave authors frustrated, poor, and yet hopeful enough to buy into the next scheme. Pick and choose very wisely when determining how to market.
7. Not everyone is a marketer, charismatic, popular, a good editor, etc. Don’t let others, whose skillsets and resources are very different from your own tell you you have to do everything yourself. Writers should be writing. If you spend more time fretting over and trying to push your books than you do writing the next one, then you are in danger of not being a writer at all, but being swept up in the new sea of people who want desperately to be writers but have no time to create anything. Publishers like mine are out there – places where a lot of the burden can be shared – where things like formatting, cover art, etc. are not words to tear your hear out over…and where all your money doesn’t funnel into other people’s pockets.
8. If you publish first in print-particularly with a smaller publisher – and that publisher does not a: do their own eBooks – b: distribute those eBooks widely – c: offer you the lion’s share of the royalties on those eBooks, don’t let them have the rights. If they farm it out to yet another publisher, and then split that diminished return with you – also not a great idea. Not every publisher is experienced enough to do anything useful with your digital rights. It’s not the same game – don’t let the fact a publisher has been making pretty books for years fool you into thinking that means they automatically know how to handle your eBook, or that you should let them. Ask questions. Get a good royalty rate. Check your options. Chances are if you have the skills and resources, you can make more headway controlling your own eBooks. There are levels of distribution, levels of compensation – and levels of professionalism. Just be careful. I’m an author – I built my company to be one I wouldn’t mind working with. I hate all the same things you do. (Yep, that’s a small plug – sue me, my blog).
9. Don’t rush out to give your books away. Yes, there are huge success stories for people who have done this. There are programs, like Amazon’s KDP program, that when used correctly and with a little luck can spur real success. For every book given away that actually improves an author’s situation, there are 10,000 given away that don’t matter a hoot. The pyramid is always there. Famous or highly visible people giving something away will give more than the next tier. Moderately successful people giving something away can make a splash and occasionally even launch into that upper tier. A book from someone no one has ever heard of, not promoted ahead of time properly, won’t give away many copies – and of those it does, won’t help spur sales. The thing that makes free books work the BEST is quality. If you can give away 10,000 books – and the book is read by 2k of those and not forgotten, and it’s really good – and those 2k people mention this, or even 100 of them stop by to review it- you might have something. If it’s riddled with typos, dashed off and forgettable – it will be forgotten. Not everything that has worked for others is going to work for you – same goes for your books themselves. Copy-catting is never-even on the best day-going to give you anything but a shadow of the success of the person you are copy-catting. Write your best book, and if an opportunity to give copies of it away smartly presents – go for it. Don’t make this you marketing “rule” though, or even if you do get fans, they’ll wait for all the books to go free.
10. Write. You have to keep writing. You have to provide new things, and keep the words flowing. If you market the same book for a year, people are going to be so tired of it they will phase you out, and you’ll never even get them to look when you finally have something new. Write what matters to YOU – and not what you think you can make a quick buck off of because someone else did. Whoever that is – you aren’t them, and the situation that sold their book is not your situation. It’s a losing battle for a crown of mediocrity. If you have something to say – write. And read – buy books – keep your head in the game. Writing is both craft, and art. At the craft level it can make a living – at the art level it can make memories. I think you all know what is more important to you, personally – pursue it.
I hope – in some way – this has helped. If you made it to here – the first five who leave a comment will receive an Amazon.com gifted copy of my novel THE PARTING. I hope you win. I hope you read and like it. I hope you review it.
Find all 650 plus titles from Crossroad Press at http://store.crossroadpress.com or wherever eBooks are sold.
I mentioned previously that I was going to revitalize my series, The DeChance Chronicles, in 2013. These are the amazing cover images that will help me do that, the first four courtesy of the uber-talented Mr. Bob Eggleton – and the last the creation of the sublime Ms. Lisa Snellings – that being for the as-yet unpublished tie-in novel to the series, NEVERMORE. All four books will see print this year, hardcover and trade paperback. Signed copies will be available through the Crossroad Press store – the books will be on sale everywhere (and hopefully in a lot of libraries) and this year the audio for Kali’s Tale will complete the audio set of the first four, and production will begin on Nevermore : A Tale of Love, Loss, and Edgar Allen Poe.
I saved, and I scrimped, and I got the covers I wanted… I am VERY grateful to the artists for working with me.
THE NEXT BIG THING
Last week Steven Savile tagged me on his blog as part on an ongoing chain of book/author recommendations called The Next Big Thing. Today I will take a crack at the ten questions originated by Paul Magrs, then send them on to five more authors to post answers to them in their various blogs – one week from today. I will be discussing the latest (and currently in progress) addition to The DeChance Chronicles :
1. What is the working title of your next book?
Nevermore – Book V of The DeChance Chronicles
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The series, obviously, has been in the works for a while. The idea for this particular story, however, comes from several sources, bits and pieces of things I’ve been wanting to work on but never got around to. I’ve been playing for a while with the notion that my protagonist, Donovan DeChance, has been alive for a long time, and has witnessed some things – from a very different perspective than the rest of the world – and might tell some of those stories.
While researching the fourth book in the series, Kali’s Tale, I found a couple of interesting sites about a roadhouse that rested on the border of North Carolina and Virginia back in the day. The laws of both states were different, as were the laws about things like dueling – if one party was on either side of the line.
One of the rumors about the roadhouse, which I call simply the Halfway House, was that Edgar Allen Poe stayed there, and that he wrote the first draft of his poem The Raven while in residence. Just one of many rumors surrounding that work, but I held onto it.
The sub-plot comes from a practice I share with my youngest daughter – picking out faces, animals, and images in things like trees, floor tiles, stones, bushes – clouds. I wrote a story a while back titled The Fruit of a Different Vine, involving a pole near our home that grows thick every year with vines until it resembles a woman pointing a gun into the woods over the top of a small home. In Nevermore, we meet Lenore, who is an artist. She sees those same types of things, and she draws them, paints them – and tries to set them free.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
That’s a good question. It’s dark fantasy, to be sure, with elements of horror and urban fantasy as well. This particular book also falls under historical fantasy, I suppose. Donovan DeChance is a magician, of a sort – a book collector bound on gathering the dangerous books and spells of the world, scanning them into a new computerized repository, and most importantly, sealing them away from the hands of those who would misuse them. You can read his origin story in the third book of the series, My Soul to Keep, which has him 16 years old in the mid-1800s.
There are vampires in these books, and dragons, rifts between worlds, werewolves – voodoo houngans and new-ageish crystal-toting witches.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a little hard for me. The perfect Donovan DeChance would be somewhat of a hybrid. He’s originally born of the old west, so I can see some Sam Elliott, but Sam is far too old – If you mixed in some Jason Momoa for the swagger and a bit of humor, and some Robert Downey Jr. for the culture it would be close. I’d love to hear thoughts on this from readers of the series. Donovan is a lot like Harry Dresden, except, Harry gets beaten up all the time, and seems more “rumpled”. Donovan wears long dark coats, has long hair in a day when it’s not really fashionable, but pulls it off.
Definitely Felicia Day for Amethyst, his love interest, who is adept at Earth and crystal magic.
For Poe? Someone tragic. In this story, both Poe and Lenore would be slightly older…Maybe Amanda Tapping for Lenore, and Grimm’s David Giuntoli as Poe? Is he too young to fall for Tapping?
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Donovan DeChances shares a memory from his past, dragging his companions into the world of Poe’s The Raven, and then bringing that world back to the present – and to the secrets of The Great Dismal Swamp.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is an odd question in that a: it only gives a small fraction of the possible answers, and b: I’m in a rather unique position. I am the founder of Crossroad Press –and since the creation of the company, all of my books have come out as Crossroad Press titles. In a sense, it is self-published, but Crossroad Press is a growing force in digital, print, and audio publishing. The only thing certain is – no agents will be involved.
7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I am writing it now, during Nanowrimo 2012. I suspect I will finish the full novel by the beginning of December…and I am scheduled to hit the 50,000 word mark (if I retain my rate of speed) around the 23rd of the month as things stand.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’ve made the comparison before to my early work for White Wolf Publishing and their “World of Darkness”. I originally created Donovan because I wanted to try writing similar stories, but without the restrictions of their game, their world, and their creative vision. I also believe fans of The Dresden Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grimm, Angel, etc. will find this a perfect match. Heck, I even named the crow that hangs out with Poe … Grimm.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This seems like a very similar question to the one above asking where the idea for the book came from. I’ve been inspired to write since I was very young. I’ve got over 30 books out now, with more in the works – I can’t imagine NOT writing – so it’s not so much what inspired me to write this book – but what inspires me to write.
My family – the way they support my stories, put up with my endless “what ifs” and dig in to help any time I need it. My co-workers, who have been the first group I’ve worked with in all my days as a writer, with the exception of a few small groups on US Navy ships, who paid attention when I said I was a writer – read the books – and seem genuinely interested.
This book is partly inspired by fans. There are thousands of folks out there now who have dipped into the world of San Valencez, California, and Donovan DeChance. I don’t want to disappoint them, or let them down. The magic continues.
Final nod on this question to my son Bill Macomber. He went in just before midnight and bumped the poll I was conducing to choose which of three possible projects I’d complete this November to the DeChance win. I’m now going to make him read them all.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think the growing dynamics of how “magic” operates in Donovan’s world is fascinating. The idea that time is more of a static plane one can move across – even influencing events in odd, temporal glitches. The story of Poe, and Lenore should be of interest to many. I’d like to think I’ll do him justice, and that my tale will become part of the fictional canon surrounding his life and work. He’s been a huge inspiration in my own work.
One thing of note – this will be a print book as well as eBook and audio – and we hope to get all of the previous books into print as well, both hardcover and trade paperback. Heart of a Dragon is already available in trade paperback – we are expanding our print line significantly, and one thing we’d like to see is an attractive, hard cover set for collectors and fans.
Ten tips for using Facebook as an author:
1) Have a personal profile AND an author’s page. This allows you all the perks of both, but gives you a good way to split your personal from professional “imprint” . . . and in case you achieve the fame you crave, you can have more than 500 likes on your author’s page, but not on a personal profile.
2) Do not make a new page for your new book. If you have a series with an actual following, it’s worthwhile to break those fans off with a page of their own, but in general, use your author’s page to build a solid list of readers, and don’t break it into pieces. Most of those who join the new page will just be people from the old page, and it serves no real purpose.
3) If you decided to send a notice to a successful author and they take you up on “liking” your page, or friending you, do not follow up with “Hey! Thanks for that! Here’s the link to my brand new book you might want to buy. As a corrolary, do not post that same link directly onto said successful autors (or anyone’s for that matter) timeline without their permission.
4) Be aware that online “Events” – again – probably only reach the same people as your author’s page, and probably annoy at least half of the people you invite. Just post the information on your author’s page. Concentrate on building the base for that page.
5) Only “sponsor” a post when you REALLY want it to be more visibile. Ther is no solid evidence (none) that promoted posts actually sell anything, but they DO spread the word wider and longer if there is something you are trying to emphasize…as with any Facebook promotion, take anything they say with a grain of salt. FB is a horrible marketing tool.
6) Post regularly and not just links to buy your newest book. Do not post every time you get a new review from a friend on Good Reads or Amazon, people are not stupid. Give them the information on what your book is about, and the information on where to find it. If you have a promotion or contest, post that, and politely request your friends share it.
7) Remember the first rule of Internet Marketing. (My rule) You’ll gather more flies with lolcats than with persistence. You will get more shares, likes, and comments with something entertaining or amusing that you’ve used to draw attention to your work than you will to a review on someone’s blog, or an entire blog tour of places no one was going to go anyway. In fact, my opinion on blog tours is that if you can’t tour on already very popular blogs, they are a waste of time, other than to up your numbers on certain search engines.
8) If you have a blog, and you post regularly there, I recommend Networked Blogs on Facebook. You can post a short note and a link for each post automatically to your various pages and / or personal profile and you you can avoid doubling content while reminding folks about your blog.
9) BE ENGAGING – and this rule applies to Facebook, Twitter, PARTICULARLY Pinterest and other Social Media sites. Nothing irritates me more or faster than a feed full of nothing but links, or a Pinterest page that has one board – My books – or maybe two … My Books and My friend’s Books. Social Media (as everyone knows by now) is supposed to be a converation. If you use it like a virtual mirror and keep TELLING it who the fairest one of all is, you’ll be scratching your head and wondering why no one pays attention. Be yourself – unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.
10) Do not try to fashion yourself after success. Because Anne Rice or Joe Hill or any other person can create a spectacular following on a social media site does not mean that if you a: copy what they do or b: listen to them because they proclaim themselves a guru (NOTE: I am not a guru, all of this is just observations and my own experience) or c: desperately cling to them hoping they will mention you and draw you along in their wake – that it will work. You, and your work, have to stand alone. If you don’t stand out as a memorable, engaging person, or your work does not prove to actually reach the heights you claim it does…no amount of manipulation of social media will make it so. Spend more time writing – less time trying to figure out how to sell it. Engage when you can, be interesting, funny, and real, and trust your talent. USE your talent. Don’t try to be someone else – unless (of course, you can be Batman, or The Fist of Goodness, in which case refer to rule 9)
Since we’ve really kicked Crossroad Press into gear, and I’ve concentrated more of my writing on drawing my big, fictional universe into one entity – and promoting the original series work I’ve created, there has been an interesting shift and upswing. I have consolidated my sales numbers and earnings across all my many books for 2011 and 2012 and can present some findings.
1) So far in 2012 (which means through sales in July) I have already made almost twice what I did in 2011.
2) Series books sell better than stand-alone novels. Collections sell fairly steadily.
3) Attaching a cover by a famous artist can boost sales, but not as much as tying works together and being creative in how you present this in your marketing material.
4) There is absolutely NO WAY to tell what will, and what will not be the big seller – though you can sometimes guess.
One of my focuses this past year has been tying Hallowed Ground, Donovan DeChance, O.C.L.T., and many of my other works that take place in and around the few fictional settings I’ve created into a larger universe. This has helped me lead readers from one book and one series to the next, and has significantly impacted sales.
Tying in with other authors? Same effect. We published the very successful LOST THINGS by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham this year, tied in loosely to the O.C.L.T. series, and I have watched steady sales across the series during this debut.
It cannot be said enough – promotions that reach people who have never heard of you, do not attend conventions – or at least not the same ones you do – who had NO IDEA you existed…those are the promotions that bring big new sales numbers and spread you like a fictional plague. Repeated posts to the same boards, groups, newsletters, etc. can sustain a certain number of sales on new works, but do your already-in-print stuff no good at all.
The goal is to sustain growth. I’ll try to pop back with some figures as things progress and 2013 approaches. In the meantime, follow the link below to find all (or most) of my digital works. See if you don’t find something that appeals to you.
For the record…my top ten bestselling titles over the two year period, in order:
- Vintage Soul – Book 2 of the DeChance Chronicles
- The Parting – A Novel of the O.C.L.T.
- Heart of a Dragon – Book 1 of the DeChance Chronicles
- My Soul to Keep – Book III of the DeChance Chronicles
- Kali’s Tale – Book IV of the DeChance Chronicles
- The Call of Distant Shores – Lovecraftian Collection
- The Second Veil – Book II of the Tales of the Scattered Earth
- On the Third Day
- Ancient Eyes
- Deep Blue
FIND MY DIGITAL WORKS THROUGH THIS POST:
I’ve started (finally) working on the next Donovan DeChance book. This story will follow directly on the tail of the events in Kali’s Tale – still a stand-alone story, and still something you could read without having read the others, though I realize that as time goes on…it’s less and less true that the full experience is there. It’s just not possible to rehash everything properly without detracting from the new story.
Those of you who have been reading along will remember we left Donovan and Amethyst in a bed and breakfast near Old Mill, North Carolina, as well as O.C.L.T. Team member Geoffrey Bullfinch. You’ll also remember that Donovan had decided not to return immediately to California, but to take a break, of sorts.
The whole crew is there, Cleo the oversized Egyptian Mau, Asmodeus the ancient Egyptian crow, and our heroes. In Kali’s Tale, Donovan referenced a place that once existed on the borderline of Virginia and North Carolina – the Halfway House – which was a bar / hotel that existed in both states at once.
People went there to get away with things that they could not on the other side of the border, marriages at a younger age were possible in NC, and the dueling laws were different. A lot of rough characters frequented the place, but a lot of famous “others” were known to stay as well. Among them?
Edgar Allen Poe.
One legend has Poe penning the first draft of THE RAVEN there, and so, I’m riffing on that…and Donovan is going to “tell a story” which will lead to questions – and a quest – taking them into ancient byways, through time and the Great Dismal Swamp, to what I hope will be a satisfying “could-have-been” piece with a twist of history.
If you want to catch up…
The DeChance Chronicles consist of Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (Which is the Donovan origin story) and Kali’s Tale. All are available in a multitude of digital formats (including digital audio for all but Kali’s Tale, and that’s on the way). Heart of a Dragon will be available as a trade paperback later this year.
I have been sadly neglecting both the promotion of my older books, and the creation of new ones. Being a publisher is demanding, and one of the things I now have to do is figure out how to more successfully budget my time. I can’t let the writing suffer too much, or I might wither and blow away…and that would be bad…I’m sure of it.
I have several projects in various stages of completion. I know I owe a new installment for The DeChance Chronicles, and I have two good possibilities. One is that I write “Nevermore” – the continuation of Kali’s Tale, where Donovan tells the tale of how / why Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Raven … Another is that I have Donovan, also in storyteller mode, explain to a group of children who hate The Scarlet Letter – that there is a great deal more to the story, and while Hawthorne gave a brief, boring outline, he wasn’t much of a storyteller… That would be titled The Scarlet Rose.
I am about 2/3 of the way through novelizing KILLER GREEN – the screenplay. That book will need a serious rewrite when it’s done to flesh out characters. It’s fast, fun, and I hope to finish it soon. I also have the novel (or novella, possibly) Tattered Remnants – a very complex pyschological thriller involving book binding and serial murder – which is partially completed, as well as a novella for The Tales of the Scattered Earth.
Then there is my apocalyptic end-of-the-world zombie book – “Run, if You Want to Live,” involving ultra-marathon running and a zombie menace.
I have – in other words – no lack of ideas. It’s time…time is killing me. I must defeat it.
I’d also like to hear from any of you with an opinion on what should be next.
On other notes – American Pies is available now in eBook formats – print soon – and My Soul to Keep, Ancient Eyes, and Maelstrom are recently out in unabridged audio from Audible.com. Upcoming there is Kali’s Tale – book IV of the DeChance Chronicles.
– Off to put words in their proper order….
About six months ago, we began planning what seemed at the time an unlikely vacation. It was to begin the very night of my son Zachary’s high school graduation. The plan? We would hop in the van, drive to New Bern, NC to a hotel, and on Saturday, we would attend the Aurora Fossil Festival. None of us really knew anything about this place except that they HAD a museum, there were giant Megaladon jaws you could get your picture taken in, and there was a pile of dirt – somewhere – you could dig through and find your own fossils.
None of us (at that particular time) was obsessed with fossils. We wanted a break, a getaway, and something different. We found all of that and more.
The trip up was an adventure in itself, as there are a lot of new bypasses and roads in place that were NOT in place when our Tom Tom was last updated. Several times in the middle of long stretches of bridge it suggested we go 80 yards and turn left. We declined. Also, there was a tiny place named Chocowinity along the way…but it passed so quickly I thought maybe I’d hallucinated it. It turns out it’s from a Native American word for “Fish From Many Waters,” but that’s for another story.
We spent a good first night in the Holiday In Express, rose early, ate our continental breakfast, and piled into the van. Along the way we passed interestingly named places, and as we pulled into town, we cut in around to the left and ended up parking two spaces off the main street. Quite by accident.
After hitting the one ATM machine in town, we started back across a big field into the festival. Before we really got in, we were handed a sheet to identify fossils, and a very friendly girl told us that the secret was that the gravel and dirt in the parking lot was fresher than what had been dumped for the festival. She showed us a very nice prehistoric Great White shark’s tooth she’d found. We went back to the parking lot.
We gathered four or five baggies of fossils, and the pride of the lot was Katie’s Great White tooth, about twice the size of a quarter. When we’d finished in the parking lot, we crossed into the field and dug with the rest of the festival guests in a big pile of “reject” from the Phosphate mine, which is the source of all the fossils.
While there we saw some odd species of duck, played with a corn snake, had funnel cake, bought fossils – and hats – and other things – and attended an amazing lecture on how the biggest specimen ever pulled from the mine was preserved, cleaned, and displayed. It’s the skeleton of a juvenile whale, and the care and ingenuity involved in that project was well worth the our we sat listening to the lecture and learning. After that we went out and saw the skeleton itself, as well as the rest of the museum, and took the obligatory photos of people in giant jaws. We also bought raffle tickets for the giant Megaladon tooth, over 6″ – did not win – and enjoyed the parade, including a passably good Jack Sparrow impersonator. Below are some more pictures from the trip.