Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chapter Two: The Troubles Begin

Bottom Line It For Me, Baby Version (200 Words Or Less):
Promotion is a bi*ch, and so's her sister, Marketing.

Go On An' Run Yo Mouth, I Got Nuthin' But Time Version (can't promise it won't go on forever):

I've got two Kindle-edition novels up for sale in the Kindle store at Amazon, and the trade paperback editions of those novels will go on sale in the 'regular' Amazon bookstore shortly. When they do, I can get some free review copies out to local newspapers and magazines to try and drum up some coverage. In the meantime, I'm having a great deal of difficulty finding legitimate, socially acceptable ways to promote my work.

I originally generated some interest in the Kindle editions by posting to some Kindle discussion groups on Amazon and elsewhere, but you can only do that once without risking the label of 'spammer' and the ire of the group. When a new book comes out the publisher generally tries to get some quality editorial reviews, i.e., in Publishers Weekly or the Times Book Review, but those types of publications are too busy pointedly ignoring self-published authors to give us the time of day.

So I thought, "Hey, enthusiastic readers enjoy discovering new voices, just like film and music fans. I should approach one of these enthusiastic reader groups to see if any of them might be interested in forming an editorial review body specifically for independent books!" What a lovely, simple idea it seemed at the time. Now that the smoke has cleared, the bodies have been removed from the field of battle and we're free to sift through the rubble, let's see if we can piece together what happened.

I located an ebook reader group that described itself as interested in new technology and the lively discussion of books both old and new. I politely asked this group if any of their members might be willing to form an editorial review circle for books from self-published authors, whereby they would get free review copies of the books and have their reviews posted in the Editorial Review box on Amazon book pages. I'm still not sure precisely what part of this idea inspired such irritation in them: the free books, the prestige of becoming a recognized editorial reviewing body, the opportunity to be a driving and influential force behind the indie author movement, or the idea of all the free promotion their group would get as a result.

Whatever it was, what I thought had been a nice, friendly and productive discussion between me and a few other, interested group members was soon characterized as some kind of attempt to take over and subvert the group---though why anyone thought I could have possibly accomplished such a coup with my one thread out of over 30, I can't say. Then I noticed a thread in which one of the objectors posted about celebrating the sense of friendship and community in the group, and just about got whiplash. That's when I decided that maybe my definition of friendship and community is quite different than the standard for this group, and perhaps it would be best for all involved if I left them.

One member emailed to tell me she'd also decided to quit the group as a result of what was said to and about me there, and another posted to say he wished I'd return because he was also interested in my idea. But I'm afraid I've soured on the whole thing; I'm fiercely protective of my positive attitude, which has been absent all day on account of this fracas, and I'd prefer not to delay its return any further. I'm gonna need all the willfull-idealism-in-the-face-of-hopeless-odds I can muster in the coming weeks, as I begin soliciting for editorial reviews on my trade paperback editions. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...


Unknown said...

You're doing something very interesting here and you should certainly keep it up.

One hope I have is that you'll eventually sell these on your site in a Mobipocket format or even HTML or such. The Kindle is too closed a format to be the only publishing medium for this. I'm getting a new Cybook and I hope I can eventually read your books without buying paper.

And I loved the interview you did on WritingCast. Good stuff.

April L. Hamilton said...

Joe Erickson - Your wish is my I'll think about it. ;')

Seriously, I *do* want to do this, but the first web widget I bought to add instant-fulfillment capability to another of my websites has never worked properly. I've emailed an acquaintance who's already got this type of thing up and running on his site, so hopefully he can point me in the right direction. Check back next week; hopefully I'll have some .pdfs or .rtfs (or both!) available then.

Most importantly, thanks for your support of the indie author movement. By definition, indie movements are grass-roots efforts and need all the help they can get from interested members of the general public, like you.

Richard Herley said...

April, you're invited to advertise yourself here, and so are any other independents you know.