It is currently -13 Celsius in Oak Ridges, Ontario and the snow has been falling since early morning. Forecasters estimate 15 - 20 centimeters will accumulate before the storm ends in the morning. We are pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas in this part of the world this year, which makes me happy. Here's some music made for a snowy night. For those of you living in warmer climates, just close your eyes and imagine going on a sleigh ride . . .
The more time passes, the more I realize how fortunate I am to have once called this magnificent city my home. Video courtesy of Norbert Nemeth.
For the past year or so I've been picking away at various marketing and self-promotion strategies for The City Of Earthly Desire. I participated in a blog tour, offered giveaways on Goodreads, submitted free copies to a few book bloggers and readers, and offered free e-books through Amazon. I very much doubt I will do anymore of these kinds of promotional activities in the future. Why? The answer is simple - none of them really worked in terms of building any kind of audience for the novel. To be honest, I was neither surprised nor disappointed by this. Deep-down I knew these strategies would lead to little, but I gave them a try all the same simply because I was curious.
Now, before I go any further I must stress that the amount of energy and money I've invested in marketing and promoting The City Of Earthly Desire has been tepid at best, so I never expected to build much of an audience in the first place. The promotional activities in which I did participate were positive overall in terms reviewer responses. Perhaps, some might say, if I were to invest more time, money, and energy into promotion I would succeed in building up a "platform." (I really despise that term whenever it used). Perhaps. But I doubt it.
At the risk of sounding cynical, part of the reason I won't do any more of the suggested strategies for self-published writers is this: The marketing and promotion of self-published books is a mini-industry of its own full of opportunists who claim to be in the business of getting writers noticed. They deliver on their promises of featuring writers, writing reviews, and issuing press releases on blogs all over the web, but more often than not, these strategies utterly fail to achieve what they are set out to do - build an audience for a book.
The purpose of this post is not slag the marketers and bloggers who turn a few bucks trying to help writers get noticed. It is true that there are many writers out there who became successful through the means I described above. I am not envious of the writers who have found success through these means. I am truly happy for them and I wish I could be more tenacious when it comes to marketing and self-promotion, but I can't.
The truth of the matter is this: I learned that I hate, I mean really hate, marketing and promoting. Period. End of story. Even the little time I spent trying to get the word out seems like a waste; it took away precious time from what I really love to do, which is write. If I do any promoting from here on, it will be aimed at people or services who really can help build an audience for the novel, not simply offer pointless web-presence and empty reviews to hopeful writers trying to build a name for themselves in an utterly oversaturated market. I will keep my book out there on Goodreads and the rest of it, and I will continue to plug away at this blog, but I very much doubt I will offer anymore mass freebies or go on any future blog tours. From here onwards, I'll look for more meaningful ways to get the word out.
I am not usually one for giving advice, especially to fellow independent writers, aspiring or otherwise, but if I were to make one recommendation to any author contemplating self-publishing a manuscript it would be this: if you can afford it, hire a professional proofreader or editor.
If you can't afford or choose not to pay for the services of a professional, get as many people to proofread your manuscript as possible. The reason? Having others read over your manuscript will reveal the blind spots you are oblivious to in your own self-editing.
How do these blind spots develop? It's very simple. Writers work with their manuscripts so intimately and intensely that, after a while, they read the text in their heads rather than the text on the page. To this day, I am blind to some of the of the errors in my manuscript and only become aware of them when someone else points them out. They are usually small errors and typos like missing or repeated words, but they are errors all the same.
Don't deny the existence of blind spots - get as many proofreaders as you can before you place your book on the market.
Blog and Comments
Blog posts tend to be spontaneous, unpolished, first draft entries ranging from the insightful and periodically profound to the poorly-argued and occasionally disparaging.
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Blogs/Sites I Read
Bruce Charlton's Notions
Meeting the Masters
From The Narrow Desert
The Postil Magazine
William Arkle Blog
Twisting the Tail of the Cosmos