Wisdom for Debut Authors from a Second Timer

So like every good aspiring novelist on the fast track to instant success, I did my research before jumping into the world of self-publishing. I read blogs, listened to what the people who make money said... all that business. I was a sponge, eager to absorb the ocean of knowledge into my body.

It wasn't all good or relevant.

The field of dreams is a lie. Like the literal movie premise ("build it and they will come") is a lie. If I built a baseball diamond in some cornfield the likelihood of being visited by a team of ghostly baseball players is only slightly less likely than hitting the NYT best seller list. In real life you've just fucked up a cornfield for baseball, the least interesting American sport.

No one will discover you if you don't put yourself out there. Amazon is very good at selling shit. They collect tons of data on everything. Based on my purchases they probably know who my soulmate is... But they don't share or use that for anyone's benefit. You will not get algorithm mojo until you awaken the beast with some sustained sales.

Family and friends are not an audience. Most of my friends don't read epic fantasy and the ones that do don't use social media. When I started out I thought small and focused on my social acquaintances. Now if someone seems excited about my book I give it to them if they mention cost as an issue.

I'd give a free ebook to anyone who asked me if I knew they'd tell their friends and give an honest review on Amazon. Honestly at this point in my career the review and sales rank is a better investment. In fact... if you want a copy here it is.

I love that a few of my friends have gone above and beyond to support me, (Thanks Michael and Lindy!)  but in the business world we call that scalability. I can't make a million friends and pressure them to buy my book... at least not without being a hot nerdy Asian girl with a million + viewer you tube channel. (And given the level of sexism and racial fetishization Asian women experience in white geek culture I'm not sure that popularity is entirely positive. YMMV-- you do you for the fans that matter, ladies.)

Behind every bestseller is a marketing engine. Sometimes it's the author (E.L. James) and sometimes it's the publisher (Suzanne Collins) but the bottom line is that if no one knows who you are, you have some work to do. It does not just happen. You have to know somebody important.

You need to be prepared to lose money on your first book. New big 5 ebooks are now around $11. It's the same rate for established and debut authors. It's tempting to hike prices but you will never make money as an unknown debut indie author at those rates.

The only way you have to draw attention is to make your book free and publicize. Unless you're a marketing genius or you know someone influential. Chances are you're not and you don't.

It's a small consolation that at 3.99 I'm probably making equal royalties to a debut big 5 author after publisher and agent expenses.


 

Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies Opens in a new window, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info.

You can find him on FacebookOpens in a new window, TwitterOpens in a new window and Pinterest Opens in a new window. (You can also follow him on GoodreadsOpens in a new window and even AmazonOpens in a new window)

 


Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)

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