Today I’d like to talk about easily the most difficult and most important part of writing your book: Promoting your work.
Rabbit in the Road will have been out for six months as of March 14th, in digital format, and has been out for 3 months in paperback format. During that time, we have had some amazing things happen that most other independents rarely are fortunate enough to get.
- We’ve had pretty much unprecedented customer reviews for the book for debut authors.
- Even noted game developers have read and enjoyed the book.
- People in film also happen to love the book.
- Even our first professional review was INCREDIBLY positive.
So, with all of those positive marks, you’d think we were rolling in the Scrooge McDuck dollars and having a wonderful time, right?
The truth of the matter is, we’re not. In fact, actual SALES have been pretty much abysmal, if we’re just talking numbers here. Customer satisfaction and retention rate has been amazing, but we can’t get in the front door to get to an even bigger reader base, so to speak. Why?
We don’t have an agent. We don’t have a publisher. We’ve got a couple of twitter accounts, a blog right here on WordPress, a few facebook pages, and good ol’ fashioned MOXIE. But sometimes, moxie is not enough.
So what’s happening? Why isn’t the book moving? It’s quite simple, really.
Lack of EXPOSURE. But where does that lack of exposure come from? I’ll tell you, because it’s quite interesting.
Coming from a game journalism background, I can tell you what it’s like on the opposite end. What normally happens in gaming is that you’ve got other press and reviewers climbing over each other, trying to get into a publishers or developers good graces in order to get their hands on a product before anyone else. Being able to get your hands on beta and/or review code is a PRETTY BIG DEAL, namely because it means that you’ve done enough work and you’re generally respected enough in your circles that your opinion actually matters, particularly to the publisher.
Oddly enough, the exact OPPOSITE is true in the literary world.
Here, you’ve got authors who are climbing all over each other, trying to get to reviewers to sit down and read their books so they get exposed to a larger audience. Interesting enough, book reviewers tend to carry a similar type of “snooty” attitude like game publishers do, seeing who is “worth their time” or not. Which is pretty damn odd, if you ask me.
Personal efforts can only go so far in the exposure game. Sure, you’re going to have family and friends who are going to throw you a basic bone here and there, but they’re not as invested in your work as you are, obviously. Needless to say, you have to learn how to get creative in your approach to moving product.
You already have a strike against you because you’re an unknown author. You’ve got a second strike against you because you’re independent. And chances are, if your work sucks and sucks hard, you’ll never get another shot again.
Currently, we have two strikes against us, being both unknowns as well as independents. Thankfully, at least according to our reader base, we don’t suck. So we’re still up at bat… I think. That doesn’t solve anything though when you can’t find anyone willing to give your book the time of day in the first place. It’s already a proven product, so you would think that that would give us an edge. But it doesn’t, at least not by any of my accounts.
Honestly though, I’m starting to run out of ideas, and I don’t know what to do. If I were a game developer though… this wouldn’t be much of a problem. And I guess that’s the Big Joke.