Updated: May 30
Here's a surprising view: most authors aren't in it for the money. We want our books out there for people to enjoy. But here the problems start...
How do people find out about your book? Well, the most obvious avenue is through friends and family. Trouble is, asking favours of friends or family can be a bit embarassing. Many of them may not be interested in the genre of your book, and what you need as a new author is fanatical advocates who really love your story.
But that's OK, because the publisher will do the publicity right? Sadly not. Just imagine how many books there are out there. A week after launch I was ranked at 32,000 out of more than a million books on Amazon (8 million when it comes to eBooks!). That's likely to be the highest I will ever get and there's still a lot of books above me. Unless you have a sure award-winner on your hands, the publisher is likely to see how it goes first - and so you are back to relying on friends and family, or self-promoting.
For some reason, self-promotion by authors is given a very dim view. If I was selling a trade - say I fixed computers, or built extensions - nobody would bat an eyelid if I started advertising myself. But for an author to self-promote, well the arrogance of it! Daring to suggest you can write! I've been keeping an eye on a new author who is running a big promotion campaign on Twitter - oh boy is that guy getting a lot of abuse. Sure, he has made some misjudged comparisons to big name writers, but how else can he describe his style in a few words?
I think the really important part of getting the ball rolling has to be reviews. Ultimately your book is going to get sold by getting recommended: word of mouth, social media and reviews. All three are important, but of the three the most important has to be reviews, because these stick around long after the latest post on Instagram.