A year and a half ago, I published my first book, the first in a now-six-strong series of comedic mysteries, and nothing happened. No one bought it. My funny-as-balls book didn’t fly up the Amazon rankings. And I wasn’t able to write my resignation letter with Mickey Mouse-shaped crayons and tell my boss to go fuck himself in the three primary colors.
Fast forward a year and a half, I now realize I’m not a beautiful snowflake whose books will go viral with little-to-no effort. I’ve got to earn that shit, and I’ve figured out a few ways to promote my work that are effective, resulting in my earning a coveted orange Amazon bestseller tag for one of my books (albeit briefly), and having amassed a modest readership.
I’m also about to write the end for the first installment in a new series, before starting work on the seventh installment in my Jake Hancock series. But I’m still an indie author minnow, who shits my big boy pants while bigger fish go swimming past me. My earnings as an author would struggle to pay for my bus fares to work, let alone my apartment in Oslo.
Clearly, I need to up my promotional game. But I’ve been dragging my feet. Why? That photo of me in the profile section, that’s not a photo of a handsome, mustachioed, will-die-trying indie author warrior, but a photo of a mustachioed, handsome, timid little mouse who’s identified other ways he can get out there, but who’s been content to sit around in his pajamas on an evening, watching Netflix, only moving to grab his next handful of generic cheese-flavored puffed corn snack.
Those days are behind me, and my sustained, day-by-day effort to gain the readership that will allow me to do this shit full-time have just begun. I’ve just got to muster up the balls to:
- Giveaway the other books in my series for free
The little success I’ve had has come from giving away the first book in my Jake Hancock series for free, using that promotional bonus I get from having my books enrolled in KDP Select. I set the date on my Kindle dashboard, pay for advertising, and then get thousands of downloads, resulting in my gaining a few handfuls of hardcore fans.
I could’ve done this for other installments, but I’ve been hesitant. Why? I don’t feel they standalone as strongly as the first book, so aren’t the ideal introduction into the series, which could result in them attracting more than their fair share of negative reviews.
I wanted the rest of the series, barring the first book, to have at least a 4.1 average star rating, and was using the first book as a filter, to reduce the number of people who haven’t read the first book from reviewing the subsequent books. It’s time to think long-term and sacrifice the star ratings of those books, so I can gain a couple handfuls of hardcore new fans five times every three months, instead of once every three months.
2. Use my Facebook page more often
I don’t write posts on my page as often as I should out of laziness. But other features, such as the ‘Go Live’ feature, haven’t been used out of fear. It’s time to suck it up and start broadcasting my stupid face live to my Facebook fans as my mouth moves from the silly words coming out of it… Live! Shit, I’m shaking in my boots already, but those Mickey Mouse-shaped crayons I’ve found on eBay won’t pay for themselves.
3. Start producing a weekly podcast
I like the sound of my voice enough to endlessly riff comedic about the dumb shit I’ve observed during the day to my girlfriend, so why not note down all that stuff, put a microphone attached to a digital recorder in front of my face on a Saturday morning, and produce a podcast, at the end of which I’ll plug the shit out of my books? I can’t think of a reason not to… apart from what about if no one listens? And will I be able to stand the sound of my voice while editing? And what about if my girlfriend just laughs out of sympathy, not because I’m funny? Fuck it, that’s the thinking of the old me.
4. Write more books
I started writing in December 2014, and have written seven novels in that time. While that might sound prolific, you’d think twice after reading one of them. That isn’t to say they’re bad. They’re just light reads, with shitloads of jokes and dialog, and very little beautiful prose and epic descriptions. None, in fact. If I could say fuck you to my fear of writing every morning and mean it, I could crap out five or six novels a year. And surely new books are my strongest promotional tool… as long as they don’t suck, and as long as I don’t ‘lose it.’
5. Write blog posts more often
There’s around a six-month gap between the publishing of this post and the publishing of the previous one, and it isn’t because I’ve been using the time I spent blogging to volunteer as a steel-roof-hut builder for the indigenous people of Zambia. It’s because I’m scared that I suck. That this post sucks. And the one I’ll write next week will suck. But what’s the worst that can happen from you, my potential customer, not liking the shit I write? You’ll move on and like some other author’s shit, which is what would’ve happened anyway.
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