In an interview I recently did with the Creative Penn, Joanna Penn asked how I used the Self-Publishing Review to market myself. Beyond the footer which contains links to my books at the bottom of each post, I haven’t done a lot of plugging my own books in the posts. But it’s my site – I started it and do most of the writing – so here we go. My novel, The American Book of the Dead, is now out.
The reason I started this site in December 2008 was because I knew I’d be releasing a book within the next year. I also knew that I didn’t want to even bother testing the waters with traditional publishing – so I wanted to impart what I’d learned from the release of my first self-published novel, North of Sunset, and learn some new things along the way. And, man, self-publishing has changed a lot, even in the last three months. People may argue about the hybridization of self-publishing and traditional publishing and if it’s a good idea, but simply: things are changing.
When I released my last novel via Lulu, so much didn’t exist yet: Twitter, Scribd, Smashwords, so many new reviewers. You had to dig hard to find a place to review a book. Self-publishing had a much worse stigma. A lot has changed since then, and I hope this site has done something to help that stigma fade.
On a technical level, here’s how I put my book together:
- Book cover design by Cathi Stevenson from Book Cover Express.
- Edited by Erin Stropes from Kallisti.ca – highly, highly recommended. She’s smart and has a great eye. It was fairly painful to see all the mistakes I’d missed, but the book’s far better since she got a hold of it. Her rates are also very reasonable.
- Bought an ISBN via Lulu.
- Printing the book with Lightning Source.
- Offering the book for free download (you set the price) with Smashwords, as well as Scribd. More ebook listings to come, but those are vital. I’m offering it for $1.00 for the Kindle.
- Ebook formatting was done by Moriah Jovan @ B10 Mediaworx, who cut away all the problematic formatting and made a bare-bones RTF.
About offering it for free – people argue that publishing is a business venture and that is how writers should approach it. Right now, at this stage in my writing career, I’d rather find new readers than turn a profit. If I can get the ball rolling with free downloads that in turn leads to increased sales (or even donations) then great, but reading’s more important to me than how much people pay per book. The print copy’s pretty reasonable at $13.95 too.
A bit about the novel – it’s about a writer working on a novel about the end of the world who starts dreaming people who turn out to be real:
“This history of the future covers every conspiracy imaginable: UFOs, secret societies, and World War III, as well as theories on life after death and human evolution by a writer whose last novel was called by Dogmatika, “A page-turner and an example of an effective piece of storytelling that should be envied.” In the tradition of Philip K. Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, The American Book of the Dead explores the nature of reality and the human race’s potential to either disintegrate or evolve.
“If you read Lolita or A Clockwork Orange without drop-kicking the book out into the garden on a rainy day, this novel is for you.” Tessa Dick, author of The Owl in Daylight, and widow of Philip K. Dick
Trailer by RJ Keller:
Another thing I’m doing. One of the things I learned from the last book is that reviews don’t count for a whole lot. Yes, I know I run a review site. They can be very helpful – I got reviewed by the old Poddy Mouth blog. In all honesty, I didn’t get a lot of sales from that review, but it did lead to an Entertainment Weekly piece, which led to a whole lot of sales all at once and the offer from more than one agent. But I’m not going to be too obsessed about getting reviews.
Instead, I’m starting a songwriting project. In the next year, I’ll be recording a song for every chapter in my novel. I’ve always thought of myself as a fiction writer first/songwriter second, but now I’m going to give music all my attention. Think it’s a unique project – if anyone knows of other similar projects let me know. I think this is a more-fun way to get attention for the book than saying over and over again, “My book’s good. Really.” And one thing you have to do with marketing is stand out. A few songs have already been recorded. This song is three in one, so you can get a sense of what I’m after:
Others will be more-typical verse/chorus/verse – origin of the song is explained here:
I’ll also be writing web fiction about the book release – both true and an extension of the novel. So there it is. This novel is the reason this site started – along with wanting to help out the perception of self-publishing. The site has grown a great amount since its inception, as has the attitude towards self-publishing overall, so it’s a pretty exciting time. The stigma about self-publishing is fading, the vindication is growing.