successes and failures and promotions

Or: “Things I totally don’t understand”

I have no idea (still) how to do anything in this self-publishing world! Which I suppose, in one way, is good. My focus should be on writing, not selling. And although I’m no expert in that area, either, at least I feel it’s something I can work on, with some reasonable expectation of improvement. As far as marketing and promotion goes? Hopeless.

So, as I’ve said before, I know my earliest books had… some flaws. But I also know the stories themselves were good. And I know that with every book, I got better: as a writer, and as a storyteller. I am still getting better. If there ever comes a time when I can’t say, with total honesty, that every book I put out is better than my last, then I might just give this up. But fortunately, that plateau is a long way off! 🙂

I haven’t had a book “published” since August. And that book did not do very well 😦 Especially compared with my previous books. I was a little disappointed, but it was also a great opportunity for me to learn a little about what works in marketing and promotion. So I tried to analyze the differences, to determine what works and all that. I really tried, and I know I’m not the best at this stuff, but still… I have no clue.

I’ve been in a few conversations lately about what makes a book popular, and how a small-time person (like me) could ever attain even a tiny bit of popularity. Things generally regarded as important (in no particular order): Cover, Blurb, Content/Story, Niche, Advertising.

cover lnd_thb
Pretty romantic.

Comparing my biggest success with my biggest failure, I can say the cover is the main difference. The more successful one had a more “romantic” cover. Blurbs were equally weak. Niche is the same. Advertising was nil for both. Story was different, of course, and so maybe the one story was just more interesting, or better liked? But they were similar in their content and I really thought the less successful one was written better.

But sometimes there is just a “spark” of something that people like, and you can’t really predict what that will be I guess.

I tried to think, why do I buy the books I buy? What is it that for me, as a reader, makes me want to buy a book? And again: I have no idea. I just randomly click around, reading blurbs and samples, and pick things that look good to me on that particular day. If I don’t even know why I pick something, how can I possibly know why my readers do?

OotW
Not very romantic.

I’m also starting to accept the fact that I write for myself, and there are only a small number of people whose tastes overlap mine. So I never expect to be really mainstream. I’m okay with that.

Anyway, to make use of my sweetest failure, I am using that title (Out of the Woods) to try out all my promotions. I’m going to do a “kindle countdown deal” next week, so from Jan 31 to Feb 5, it will be “marked down” to .99 on amazon.

And in the meantime, I am still writing, and still improving. I am almost finished with my longest story yet! It’s about two guys who fall in love as teenagers, are cursed by some wacky Fae, and who have a terrible time dealing with the curse. It’s kind of fun, because I’m following them from age 18 to 38. I’m pretty happy with it so far, and if everything goes to plan I will be ready to release it sometime in April. And you can bet your ass it’s getting a romantic cover.

Updates to follow on how the kindle countdown deal works out!

2 thoughts on “successes and failures and promotions

  1. (I’m just playing Tarzan this morning, swinging through your blog from “Related” link to “Related” link.)

    > I’m also starting to accept the fact that I write for myself, and there are only a small number of people whose tastes overlap mine. So I never expect to be really mainstream. I’m okay with that.

    You know those big decals you can stick on your wall—trees and birds and motivational quotes? I need to get something like the above custom-printed and stick it on the wall behind my computer. It would be even more useful if, sensing I was slipping into a “but if I did ~this~ instead, I could reach a larger audience” mood, it would start tap-dancing and singing to get my attention. I’m happiest (and most productive) when I write the stories I want to read, and at my most irritable and least productive when I’m trying to write what sells.

    • I totally agree. Writing what sells might be smart business-wise, but it sucks the life out of you. I have shifted my focus now to finding that small slice of humanity that is interested in m/m realistic-paranormal romance. (I guess the first step will be for me to come up with a more appropriate genre-name for it, lol) If I can market to those people, my people, I can write what I like, and still be madly successful! (*sarcastic laughter*)

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