You're new in the writing business.  Or not new so much as being, worse yet, unknown.  You decide to self publish and go via the epub route.  Bigger audience. Better potential in keeping your work out on the market for longer periods of time.  Maybe eventually a bigger payday all away around.

 

You've read all the accounts of how other writers have done this and the successes they've had.  Not forgetting they are/were a known product . . . and you're an unknown product . . . the decision has been made.  Screw tradtional publishing.  On to that bright, undiscovered country!

 

And then stark reality slaps you in the face.  How do you become known?  Why would anyone want to buy your works over, say, ten million other scribes?  What do you do to separate you from the growing crowd of other struggling writers?

 

Got any ideas?

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Which, in reality, means that talent has very little to do with it.  Success.  There is great talent out there waiting to be discovered.  And never will.  The writer who said "Great writing will eventually find a way to be published," must have been working on a bad migraine that day.

Not sure I can add much to this conversation, since I just self-published my first novel and I'm ... way down there looking up at the mountain top. The only thing that makes sense to me is to spend time doing what I can control. I have no control over whether luck rears its fickled head.

 

Things I can get my hands on: (1) Concentrate on perfecting the craft. (2) Learn ways to connect with other readers. (3) Try to keep up with changing technology. (4) Connect with other great writers like yourselves.

 

The list seems to grow each daily. Who knows whether this will all pay off  in the long run, but we won't know unless we try. I enjoy writing--this is one thing I hope does not get lost on this journey.

Yes.  Absolutely!  Unfortunately the ugly publishing world keeps sticking its nose in all the time.
Absolutely, Mark. For reasons in and out of my control, I'm back to re-re-re-re-re-re-editing my novel. I started the damn thing in 2006. But the length of time sitting on a hard drive doesn't matter so much as how much I've worked on it. The writing only got better, and I'm proud of that fact. I did well at the things I could. That's all I can do.
Rising above the crowd involves timing, luck, public taste, and good writing. The first three are beyond our control; focus on the writing. That's not to say it will work, but it's the only aspect you can control. I've lost count of how many times I've listened to people who spend time trying to get noticed ,when that's the last thing they really need, because they haven't done the writing part well enough to sustain interest is they do stick their head above the crowd for a fleeting second. Waiting for a break is one thing; having wasted the break because the writing was inadequate is far worse, as second chances after a failure are rare as volcanoes in Iowa.

It was I.J. who told me two years ago to forget about making a name for myself. Go home and study the craft and write the best damn book you can possibly write. I choked on it a while, but I decided she was right.

That's my plan now. I just finished the best damn book I ever wrote. I think that's all I can do.

Oh.  I had no idea, Jack, but I'm glad.  You see, with all the disappointments, in the end, one wants to be left at least with self-respect and pride in a job well done.  And the joy of having done it.  As others said above, this is what we can control.
Marketing, marketing, marketing. Wherever, whenever, however. Social networking, media, libraries, book stores, Rotary clubs, colleges. It's hard work and you have to stick with it.

Two years and a couple of thousand books was all I could take. Good luck!

 

As Stephen said, marketing, marketing, marketing.

 

I'll offer some tips/thoughts/direction. At least, in general terms, this is what I'd do. I'll do it from the angle of someone having to do most of the work himself or herself.

 

Digital

  • Make sure you have a web page. Gasp! I know this is a no brainer, but a lot of folks don't do this. Even if you set up the free Wordpress page, you need something. Clean, professional, and easy to read/follow is far more important than bells and whistles.
  • It needs to be easy for you to update, so you can post news, information, short stories, links to your book's listings on Amazon, etc.
  • Cross link all your social media, etc.

Social Media

  • Set up a Facebook "fan" page rather than use your personal page. Why? Fanpages show up more prominently than "regular" Facebook pages in Google search results. Make sure the page contains links to your website and all other social media. Take some time to read what you can do with the page, how to make some minor customizations, etc.
  • Set up a Twitter account.
  • Look into other social media and if you feel it is relevant, set up accounts. Digg, Tumblr, Youtube, Myspace, LinkedIn, and many others all have their place.
  • Make your life easier and set up an account at Hootsuite to monitor and post to all.

Make sure you use your social media. You can link to your stories, link to free stories on your website, link to interesting reviews or short stories you liked written by colleagues of yours, short pieces of writing advice, etc. You have to find a right balance. Use it too much, and you're followers/friends/likes will tune you out. Don't use it enough and they'll forget you.

 

E-mail

  • Set up a free account at Mail Chimp. Start adding addresses, and offer people through your website and social media links to sign up for your e-mail newsletter.
  • Once a month is a good frequency. Of course, you want to include links that promote yourself, but you want to also offer value - free flash fiction, an article on the craft of writing, etc.
  • Keep it short.
  • Harvest those e-mail addresses. Release a new book? Put out a special edition of your newsletter to announce it.

Traditional Media

  • Don't forget it is still alive.
  • Begin creating an e-mail list of reporters and editors to send your press releases too. 
  • Get to know reporters, bloggers, etc. Establishing relationships will absolutely help you in the long run.
  • Don't write too many releases. You don't want to be a nuisance, but definitely tell them of your "news" - you have a new book out, a new short story published, you are going to participate on a panel at a conference, etc.
  • Pitch yourself. Local morning shows and certain local radio shows are always looking for guests.
  • Don't forget trade and hobby/special interest magazines. Are you an architect and have published a new e-book about a crime-fighting architect? The trade magazines just might do a short blurb.

Public Appearance

Conferences comes to everyone's mind (and don't forget to send a press release if you are a speaker/on a panel at a conference!), but there is more.  Book clubs, writing clubs, Rotary/Kiwanis/Lions - all sorts of groups are constantly looking for interesting guest speakers. Don't forget creative writing classes at high schools, colleges, and community education facilities.

 

Create your own content

  • Not getting the traditional media traction you want? Set up your own contact. Film an "interview" with you, and put it on Youtube - with links from all your social media, e-newsletter, and website of course.
  • Record your talks to groups and put them online as webcasts or podcasts. Cross link, cross link, cross link.
  • Write and post on your website or blog, your own stories/news/tips/advice and link, link, link.

A few little tidbits

  • Don't forget your e-mail signature. Set it up so that every e-mail you send has a link to register for your newsletter, like your website, buy your e-book, etc.
  • Have something to give out that has a link on how to buy your book, like you, sign up for your newsletter. This can be as simple as a business card you hand out at a Rotary Club meeting.
  • If you see something an author has done, and it seemed to work, imitate it!
  • Look at promotional ideas in other industries. Can you copy them?
  • If anything is written about you, link it to your website and all your social media.

Finally, make sure to set a budget - for time and money. And as the owner of a newspaper company - the man who gave me my first job as a publisher - said to me: "Plan your work, and work your plan."

 

Excellent!  Many thanks, Clay.  Though it likes absolutely intimidating.  :)
Make that "looks".  Arrgh!

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