I am not new to writing (13 novels and loads of other stuff over the years) but I am new to self publishing - and, thus, the whole self-promotion process.
At the weekend I did a free download promotion for both the novels I have on Amazon. It was successful far beyond my expections; I just wanted to share some thoughts about it.
I started my novel "You Wish" after a ten year break from writing anything other than amusing little bits and bobs to make my friends laugh. When it was finished, I got out my Writers and Artists Yearbook, selected appropriate agents, checked their websites for submission requirements, and off I went. I had some interest (the full manuscript being requested a couple of times), but no offers of representation. A tad disheartened, I shelved the whole thing, until two people suggested I try it on Amazon's Kindle Store, this being the way forward, etc etc. I didn't really know about Kindles; at the time I had never even heard of John Locke.
I stuck them on there. Various friends (and friends of friends) had read the novel and liked it very much; the ones who didn't were kind enough not to tell me. Those who liked it, I asked to review it for me, which they did. I started to write the next one, and put that on, too. Nothing much happened, apart from a few downloads and a few more very good reviews.
Someone suggested to me that I try Twitter. Best move I've made in years!
It's not only about advertising your stuff, is it? I had no idea. I've 'met' other self-published writers; how wonderful it is to share ideas and thoughts with others who are in the same boat! Not only that, but I've read so many fascinating articles that have really helped me. Previously, I was arrogant enough to think "huh, I don't need to be told how to write!", but I am so glad I re-thought that attitude. I've learned so much about cutting unnecessary descriptive passages, interspersing long passages of text with dialogue, starting the story off with a bang rather than a whimper, not using cliches like the one I just wrote, casting out 90% of adverbs. In particular, the writer and publisher Scott Bury posts some marvellous articles. Look him up!
I've discovered people like Jeff Bennington, whose book The Indie Author's Guide To The Universe is, I think, a MUST HAVE for all self-published authors. Buy it! And Melissa Foster, with her Women's Literary Cafe thingy - look both of them up, too! There's so much real help out there. Best of all, I have 'met' some people I am sure would be real life friends if only we lived near each other. Karen, Kirkus, how I wish we could go out for a beer together! I've discovered new authors, people I wouldn't have known about otherwise, as I don't tend to browse Amazon. I've now got about 20 books on my Kindle that I WILL finish and I WILL review, I promise!
As with people who are trying to make it in the music business - or the would-be Masterchef business, or the world of photography, art, anything - there is a good community out there. We understand how hard it is and help each other, retweeting each other's promotional stuff - I cannot imagine how many people read about my books being free this weekend, but it must have been a lot because I had 17,560 downloads! That's another thing - all those people reading the stories that I wrote in the corner of my living room is so weird I can't quite get my head around it. However, my insecurity is another subject and one I won't explore right now, okay?
.......except to say that I wonder if everyone is the same as me, and occasionally clicks on the 'click to look inside' thing on their own books on Amazon? And thinks, oh no, that bit's crap, I could have written it so much better now, oh shit, it's embarrassing, everyone will think I'm a complete klutz......
I am now steeling myself for a bad review. I know, the more you put your stuff out there, the more likely it is that you will get someone who not only doesn't like it, but also wants to tell you how much they didn't. Now, remember this: in The Indie Author's Guide it estimates that 3% of reviewers are people who just enjoy giving bad reviews. In fact, make a point of doing so. I've realised this to be true; I saw a very damning one on a friend's book, then clicked on 'see all my reviews' - as JB said, the reviewer had been just as crappy to everyone.
I'm trying to make my skin thicker so that my first really bad one won't get to me - any tips on how to do this??!!
In the meantime, I shall carry on writing, and carry on twittering.