Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Selling Your Book in This Vast, Seemingly Endless Sea of Available Fiction

With my first YA book, End of Normal, coming out next month, I realized that as a new and unknown writer, I had to do something to make my book stand out amongst the zillions of books out there. This whole publicity thing got me thinking about the difficulties all unestablished writers face from the first word written on the blank computer screen (or big chief tablet like Laura Ingalls Wilder used), to either self-publishing or finding a publisher willing to take a chance, and finally, to the task of getting people to actually buy and read your book.

Despite the daunting months, years, or decades of the hard work of writing and selling yourself, there seems to be (to me at least) more books out in the ether than ever. This is both good and bad. Good because everyone that has a book inside of them yearning to be set free is able to get it in front of readers. Bad because everyone that has a book inside of them yearning to be set free is able to get it in front of readers. Don't rush to comment that I'm repeating myself, I did that on purpose so sit back, take a deep breath and let me continue. With every single person on the planet capable of publishing a book, readers have become awash in books, all kinds of books, many of them for free.

Do I think that's wonderful? Yes I do, the problem is that readers (of which I am one) have to sort through a jungle of junk to find the gem. Many readers (including myself) have tried the free books, been disappointed and now, instead of wading among a lot of stinky seaweed, they simply stick with the authors they know and love. (Sorry about all the sea references, I live minutes from the coast and water is often on my mind.)
Helpful hints on how to wade through the sea of books. 
As my beloved Shakespeare would say, "Aye, there's the rub," which according to Webster's, is what you say when  you are explaining what the difficulty is in a particular situation , i.e. You can't get readers to read you unless they know who you are so how do you get readers to know you if their focus is mainly on writers they know? I wish I had the answer.

In this instance, knowing only too well how inept I am at all things dealing with self-promotion, I've decided to hire a publicist for the launching of my book. The cost was less than a lot of advertisements, so I'll see if it helps at all. One thing they are doing is sending my ARC to scores of reviewers, something I would never have done on my own. Fingers crossed some of those sent an advance copy will not only read my words, but also like them, and comment on the book positively in print. I'll let you know how it plays out.

In closing, I have to give you the Hamlet monologue with the "rub" line. Yes, I know, I'm obsessed with Will, I can't help it. Everything he writes is a soothing balm to my soul.

I know shame on me, right? This is an atrocity, still it's kind of funny.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

And if I'm anything, it is that I'm beyond obsessive so here's a link to Kenneth Branagh's beautiful version. Oh Kenneth, you make me weak at the knees.


Big Mike said...

Here's another side of the same coin. The advent of turn key self publishing permits anyone to toss books into the market without quality control. Frankly, when I look back over my twenty releases I'm not the writer I was, due to the sweat and blood letting of talented editors from the publishers staff. The market is so flooded, and the pool of available readers so limited, sells per average book had to go down as stats reflect. It's another reason why so many indie publishers bit the dust in the last five years, the market's become too diluted, IMO.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

True, Mike; it a literary quagmire.

The more reasonably priced, experienced publicist may be a good way to go nowadays. Good luck, and keep us informed.

My husband's suggestion for promoting each of my books is always the same: "Streak the Today Show!"

Carmen Fox said...

Yes, please let us know. My book is due early 2015, and it's freaking me out. I wasn't sure about letting my friends and family know, because the few I told have been less than supportive. To save myself more disappointment, I've now decided against telling them, so I must rely entirely on my writer friends to help me spread the world, but if a publicist helps, I might go that way.

I was under the impression the publisher will send a few ARCs to select reviewers, but if a publicist can send out many more on your behalf, I'm sure you'll get plenty of good reviews.

In any event, best of luck.



Gabriella Austen said...

Streaking the Today Show is always an option, I suppose Julie, but not one I'm too anxious to do. I agree with you Mike about the market being overwhelmed with fiction. I get free book offers almost daily and the ones I've loaded onto my Kindle were not worth the trouble. How sad is that? Thanks for your support Carmen, although I'm not so sure the reviews I get, if any, will be positive, nothing is positive in the book world.