Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Book the first. Amazing cover. 
Out of all the hurdles facing authors, discoverability is probably the hardest one to jump over / climb up / crash and burn into.

You can:
Write a great book.
Have a sensational cover.
Have a big publisher making sure your book is
 a) in the stores
 b) going out to reviewers
 c) entering awards
 d) getting great reviews
 e) winning awards
 f) selling copies.

Yet even with all of these elements in your favour, your time as 'next big thing' becomes 'whatever happened to' in the snap of a pencil.

Most paper books published the traditional way spend a month on the shelves in the stores.

A month to get noticed.

Book the second. Stunning cover.
Why a month? Because the publishers have new books to bring out, and they want them in the stores. Your book has had its turn; time for the next author.

Sometimes publishers do the 'double dipping'. They bring the first book out in expensive hardback, in the hope of selling a few thousand copies, mostly to libraries. Then a year later, they bring the same book out as a paperback. This reminds readers about the author, gives them another chance to sell and be in the stores. (My books were not brought out in hardback, by the way, so Ondine didn't get a second shot.)

Reviews, stores, covers, all for one month on the shelves, and if they don't sell, they are usually returned to the publisher and pulped.

Then, if you're lucky enough to have a two book deal, it all happens all over again with the second book. Except it doesn't. You're no longer a 'debut' author, so your book isn't promoted as a 'shiny new thing' and there may not even be advance copies sent out to reviewers . . .

Book the third. Brilliant cover.
All this is not to say publishing is broken. Not at all. But it does seem a bit hit and miss and a bit disorganised. And a bit impossible for any one author to really 'break out' and get known.

Which is why so many authors I know (myself included) are bringing out their new books independently and self-publishing. Our books might not be in the bricks & mortar stores, but they are available on line and once they're up, they're up there forever.

No more returns eating into their royalty statements, no more limited shelf life, more staying power.

Along with 20 million other titles out there.

New books are getting published every day but the old ones are not moving on. This is both a blessing and a curse. Readers can get their hands on 'old' books any time they like, but there are so many new books coming out it's hard to sort through it.

People also want to know if the book is going to be worth their money and their time. Under $5 is considered affordable in most budgets, but you're asking someone to commit a fair amount of time. Older books have already proved this, so there is something of a 'flight to safety' in our choice of reading material. Newer authors are an unknown quantity. As much as people love a little novelty, they also want to know what they're in for.

It's also incredibly difficult for newer books to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Again, they can have beautiful covers (like mine), glowing reviews (like mine) and win awards (oh yeah, like mine) but the author still has plenty of work to do getting the word out.

This is where self-publishing becomes really, really hard. I can see why some would give up after painfully low sales.

Most self-published authors don't have a paid publicist to do the promotions for them.
But they also don't have the one-month on the shelves window slamming shut on them either.

Self-published authors have to be organised. I advertised for a couple of months on a popular romance fiction website. I had some good click-throughs but ultimately, it didn't sell books. The exercise was about being seen and getting some interest. In the end I don't think it was the right website for my books. My books are young adult (see how young Ondine is on the covers?) and there is plenty of whacky magic and comedy. And footnotes. My books didn't fit the demographic of that website.

So I am doing more homework and looking to place adverts on websites that appeal to readers of my kind of book. In a way, I have to narrow it down in order to get the biggest amount of appeal.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

1 comment:

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Good luck to you promoting your novel.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.