The Myth of Promoting

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The Myth of Promoting

Postby izanobu » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:10 pm

Something that came up in another post got me thinking about this. So here is my work flow as both writer and publisher. Notice that promotion is nowhere in it.

For any who care, I spend about 0 time promoting. Writing the next book is the best promotion there is. At the moment my self-publishing work line looks like this:
1) choose cover artist, have them make cover (maybe 2 hours of my time spread over weeks as I answer email and approve final designs)
2) choose editor, line up editing dates with finishing dates (again maybe an hour of my time spread over a week or so)
3) write (the bulk of my time spent doing this since the bulk of my time should be spent on the WRITER side of the equation anyway)
4) fix what editor points out (most time I've spent doing this was 14 hours, and that was for an early novel, none of my later stuff has taken this much time to fix. Maybe 3 hours max these days, done in an afternoon or late at night)
5) Format (takes about an hour) and send off copy for print formatting (I don't do this myself, it's too time-consuming)
6) write the description (THIS is the worst part of self-publishing, frankly. If I could find someone to do it for me, I would, but I find that it gets slightly easier with practice. Still, putting a novel into a paragraph in an interesting way sucks)
7) publish (about 15 minutes to upload to various sites)
Every time I do this, sales go up. It's like magic. (Actually, around here we joke that writing is basically printing money, only the machine read-out is broken so you don't know if you are printing pennies or hundreds, but money always comes from the writing these days)

(Bonus money is had by going to ACX and getting a narrator and making an audio version, which right now is about 30% of my take-home money in sales. Audio takes me a few hours to find a narrator and approve the final product. That's the only time investment from me.)

At this point, I hire a lot of help because I want 90% of my job to be writing and not that other stuff. My business pays for itself with some left over to help with household bills, which I think is pretty good for being less than 2 years old (many small businesses run at a loss for their first 3-5 years).

The only time promoting I spend is if I'm making a book free (about two minutes to change the price and notify Amazon of the change so they can price-match it) or if someone wants a review copy of the book (this is how I got reviewed on and Black Gate, for example). None of that takes more than a few spare minutes of my time.

Early on I tried a few things, because I like to experiment. I did a blog tour. 0 sales results. I recently did a Kindle Fire give-away with some other authors (all more known than I am), we all saw pretty much no sales bump from that (but this also didn't take any of my time, someone else did all the work, thank god). I've done give-aways for reviews, which result in few reviews and pretty much no sales. I've done a couple promotions through paid sites, again, very little sales movement.

The single thing I've found that RELIABLY increases income is to write more books. Every single time I publish something new, my sales and income go up. Every time.

So yeah. I know what my time is better spent doing. Printing money, one fictional word at a time.

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Re: The Myth of Promoting

Postby Strycher » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:18 pm

Thanks for sharing this! How many books do you have available right now? You use pen-names for different genres, right?

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Re: The Myth of Promoting

Postby izanobu » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:25 pm

Yeah, I use pen names a lot. I have 27 titles out (I think?), but only 3 of those are novels. Most are short stories and collections. I'm aiming to get more novels and novellas out, since they sell better. The bonus of short stories is that I can often sell them to magazines first, so they have already earned a few hundred before they go up. But novels definitely earn more money over all.

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Re: The Myth of Promoting

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:01 pm

I approve this message.

I'm in the near-zero promotion camp myself. I'd rather be writing.
Thomas K Carpenter
SFx2, SHMx1, HMx12 (Pro'd Out - Q4 2016)
EQMM - Feb 2015 / Abyss & Apex - Issue 50

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Re: The Myth of Promoting

Postby LDWriter2 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:31 pm

Dean Wesley Smith pretty much says the same thing. Putting up more of your novels is the best promotion.

Someone buys the new one, likes it, looks for more by you and/or tells their friends.

Something I very much like to try. Hopefully I can get the three sets of stories up these next two weeks and do some significant more work on revising the first novel to be put up. That last is taking a very long time but it's my fault, I keep getting distracted with other writing.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM

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