I’m probably a bit premature, really, since NIGHT AND CHAOS is still just a baby and hasn’t been out on it’s own long enough for me to make any solid conclusions, but still, that’s never stopped me before.
So I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on the various Amazon forums looking for places to promote NIGHT AND CHAOS, and seen the same situation over and over. There are two types of forums. One – indie threads started by indie authors for promotional purposes that are apparently only frequented by other indie authors there to promote themselves. I’ve seen very little evidence of readers popping in and saying “I will totally buy this book, kthnx!” The other type is where readers have started a topic along the lines of “I’m looking for a book like X, please recommend something,” which is then drive-by spammed by indie authors yelling READ MY BOOK EVEN THOUGH IT’S TOTALLY UNRELATED TO YOUR REQUEST OMG!!! This obviously creates a lot of negative feeling, and plenty of forums which specifically state they’re not interested in what indie authors have to say.
I don’t know how to get around this. I engage in quite a few of these forums (mostly on Amazon UK), and I’m so, so careful to keep Reader Nome separate from Writer Nome. If someone asks for recommendations, I’ll offer them without mentioning my own work. If someone’s looking for indie reads or offering indie promo, I’ll post about NIGHT AND CHAOS there, but I’m convinced only other indie authors are visiting these places, since I’m not seeing a bump in my Amazon rankings that would indicate people are responding to such promo.
It’s frustrating, but I completey get the reader perspective, since some of these indie authors are freaking everywhere and being all, “buy my book about communist gypsy bear-baiters in 1980s Sweden even though you asked for a recommendation on time-travel romances, dammit!” and it is pretty silly.
I’ve sent NIGHT AND CHAOS to a few places requesting reviews, but only heard back from three saying they’ll read it. Whether that’s because it’s indie or because it’s a novella, I don’t know, so I’m not worrying about that too much. Because this is other lesson I’m learning: this is a long game. Quantity counts as much as quality; from what I can see, the indie authors having the most success are the ones with plenty of books available. I’m sure there are exceptions, but this seems to be the rule. Now, I don’t have a massive backlist of novels, so I can’t shove a ton of stuff on the Kindle and make myself more visible this way. Wild will be ready to go up there in a few weeks, but Wild is … contentious, and not everyone is going to fall over themselves to read a YA werewolf urban fantasy where the heroine takes drugs, gets slapped around by her boyfriend, and generally has a miserable time.
Anyway. Where was I? Long game. Yes. Yes! Word of mouth is key too, I think, which is why I’d quite like some more reviews on Amazon. I’m taking a very long view with this game. Although ultimately my aim is be making enough money off Kindle sales to go part-time at the day-job, I don’t want to put out a bunch of crap just because I can. I’d rather take my time and build an audience because I’ve got quality books available than because I spammed the hell out of people and put up 1002 shitty books.
And I don’t plan to self-publish everything I write, either. Obviously my Urban Wolf books will always be with QueeredFiction, not just for contractual reasons, but because I love my publisher and editor there. Despite the fact that my sales with Damnation Books aren’t great, I’d also prefer to keep my Shoregrave/Ethan Banning stuff with them too, because I see it as part of building a brand and a name, and I think DB are a publisher with big plans and sensible methods of putting those plans into action. Anything I write as tessa_morelock , I will try to publish with epubs and small presses, because romance writing is not my strong suit and I don’t trust myself to do a good job without the input of good editors. Not that my urban fantasy is world-beatingly awesome, but I’ve been writing and reading it long enough to feel more confident going it alone there.
Anyway, these are my conclusions thus far.