Well, the Adopt a werewolf campaign is over, and we found homes for over 500 new copies of There’s no such thing as Werewolves. Hopefully some new readers will discover my writing which, of course, is the reason behind the give away.
This time of year is a time of looking back, and looking ahead. I looked back on my giveaways last year, and at one point I gave away over 5,000 copies in a 5 day promotion. So this promotion hit only about 1/10 of what the same promotion did less than a year ago, and it made me wonder: Is doing everything right, doing everything wrong?
Let me explain. There’s a kind of “Here’s how you do it” list of things you ‘need’ to do if you’re a new author. Have a blog and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and as many other social networking sites as possible. You have to have a PLATFORM. Then, if your query letters to agents and publishers fall on deaf ears, you self-publish, and use free promotions to get your work out there to build a reader base. It worked. It worked for me last year. The 5,000 free books generated sales of my other books. sure, it seems to have worked much better for some of the authors before me, but I got my foot in the door.
On the other side of things, I’ve done my share of picking up and reading promotional (free) books. Some were good, some just okay and many were really bad. The gatekeepers are gone. It’s easy to see that the bar for entry has been lowered to the ground, and the field is overflowing. I hit the point where I just stopped picking up free books, and trying out new authors. I’ve gone back to reading trusted authors, taking suggestions from friends, and buying books from publishers. In short, I’ve gone back to the gatekeepers. My reading time is precious, so I want something good. I think a lot of people are doing the same thing. Thus we see the rise of the boutique publishers, the new gatekeepers.
Having just gone through the editing process on Son of Thunder, I realize that there is a good chance my self-published books are not all that good, they may even be crap, I’m certainly no fair judge of my own work. I like them, and I’m proud of my books, but I avoided the gatekeepers, and jumped into the muddy pool, just to get something ‘out there.’ They’re certainly not as good as they could have been with an professional editor and publisher behind them.
It seems to have worked for me, though. I have an editor and a publisher now. I’ve made it past the gatekeepers. I still have a long way to go. But I wonder about new authors, jumping into that muddy pool. The industry is changing so fast, what worked last year, doesn’t work as well as it used to, and maybe it doesn’t work at all. I think I got in at a good time, maybe hitting the tail end of the big self-publishing boom.
I don’t have much advice for new authors. I wish I did. I wish I could say, just do what I did (not that I’m all that successful). But what worked last year, doesn’t work as well right now, and may be completely worthless in the future. The list of things you need to do as an author grew out of the success stories of such authors as Amanda Hocking and E. L. James, but they broke new ground. Those that followed them, doing all the “right” things, had less success. So doing everything right, may just be doing everything wrong. Then again, who knows. Maybe with luck, skill, persistence, and a bit of crazy, you might find the new right way to do things. I know I’m going to keep my eyes open.
Until next time,