I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving (those of you who celebrate it, that is.) Mine was great (thanks for asking), but I kept chomping at the bit, wanting to write instead of spending time with the family. Not wanting to miss time with them, I found myself in the den, with my better half, friends and family–and my laptop trying to keep up with both, and unsuccessful with either. I finally gave up on trying to get much writing done, but then spent much of the time working with my cover artist trying to come up with some kind of cover that approached the quality of the artwork he had presented in the “young adult, vampire slayer” cover. I still love that cover as artwork, but it’s just not right for Half Past Midnight. We went back and forth on various ideas, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to accept the fact that I’m just not going to be happy with whatever we come up with. The first cover was good enough that anything suffers by comparison. And since I’m not going to find anything that I like as much as the one he already did, it’s time for me to quit stressing over it and just get the thing done with something that is at least acceptable.
So we came up with an idea, and we’re going to push through with it. It may not be great, but the cover is the only thing holding me up on getting the thing published. That means I have to get something done sooner, rather than later. Then, once the cover is done, I hope to have the thing published within the next week or two, which means I now need to think about marketing.
I know it’s likely been said before, but it occurs to me that marketing a novel is analogous to the old “tree falls in the woods” koan. If you write a wonderful novel and no one knows it, did you actually accomplish anything? Sure, there is all the self-satisfaction of having seeing something you created with weeks, months, or even years of work, finally come to fruition, but unless all you want is a one-time bump in your personal pleasure index, you need to shoot for more.
Personally, I want to eventually make a living at this writing stuff. And for that to happen, people have to buy my work, which in turn means that it’s up to me to get their attention somehow – and that’s what they call marketing. So I find myself reading a lot of blog posts to see what other authors recommend. So far, all my reading on the subject has revealed one irrefutable truth; no one has any real, definitive idea of what works, and what doesn’t–at least not as far as I can find.
Actually, scratch that. What I should say is that everyone has their irrefutable truth, but they all contradict one another. One recommends that you schmooze reviewers at all levels (beginning reviewers, and experienced) to get them interested in your work, another says schmoozing is nothing more than pandering to your baser self, and will do nothing more than turn reviewers against you. One recommends immediately buying advertising on various well-known sites to jump-start your sales, another says don’t waste your money, as you’ll only dig yourself into debt, delaying the time before your book actually begins making you any money.
So what else?
Post on writing forums! But what could I possibly have to offer a community of writing professionals who have already trodden the path I am only just beginning? And I already know from reading some of the proposed forums, that asking for advise is going to garner me so many contradictory tidbits of anecdotal wisdom as to be basically pretty useless.
Podcast your work. But… no, podcasting is tantamount to giving your work away for free, and you should never give your work away for free! Oh, and then there are the guys that say you shouldn’t bother with advertising of any sort until you have at least three titles available for sale, so just publish, and let it lie dormant until you have multiple titles ready to go.
So reviews (or not), advertising (or not), podcasting (or not), and what else? Singing and dancing to garner attention? Not likely, you don’t want me singing anywhere near you, and my dancing is to be avoided even more so. So what’s a starting author to do?
Well, once I weigh all the advice and balance the equations, I’m pretty much left with a blank slate. The “do”s and “do not”s cancel one another out and leave me back at the beginning, asking the same question–what do I do about marketing? And viewed through the various contradictory advice offered from so many sources, it’s suddenly quite clear.
I simply do whatever feels right for me.
I have people I’m working with who are willing to help, are in fact eager to help, and that is wonderful advertising in and of itself. I have some ads lined up, and am beginning again on recording the novel for podcast. Reviews will come or not. I have no real control over that, so why worry about it? I can send some advanced copies out to a few folks, and let those particular chips fall where they may. Other than that, it looks like reviews are pretty much a crap shoot.
The singing and dancing are still right out, though. I absolutely, positively refuse to budge on that one.