In this modern situation of book publishing, promotions has pretty much been on the shoulders of the author. Even with a major traditional publisher the home office expects the author to spend a hefty portion of their advance on advertising and promotions for the book they just sold. Fuck that. I would often arrange book signings on my own, but I’d be damned if I was going to spend my advance on expensive advertising (beyond sending out some review copies).
At any rate, in getting my older books back onto the market under the Last Hemlock Press imprint, I have to do my own advertising. So I went to a number of my writer/publisher friends to ask them how to go about it and what were the best venues for doing it. There was some interesting stuff to discover, but most of it seemed on the level and logical.
However, in doing my own investigations into the nature of this business of acting as the creator, the publisher, and the advertiser I quickly found out that a vast industry of ripoff artists has emerged and developed like a skein of pond scum. For instance:
Every book needs a cover. And you need a good cover. Fortunately, the big thing currently is that the most popular covers are created via photo manipulation which only requires some talent with a photoshop-type computer program, and access to various photographic images that can be purchased inexpensively for manipulation and alteration into a work of art that can become a book cover. It’s a fairly cheap process that can be accomplished in quick order.
Except that there are uncounted numbers of outfits charging crazy prices to create covers. In casting about for decent artists to create my covers I talked with folk charging anywhere from $300 to $700 just to make a photo-manipulated cover. Keeping in mind that most books never earn out to the tune of a thousand bucks, paying that kind of cash for a cover is unreasonable. Fortunately, I found talented Photoshop artists willing to create covers for me for a fraction of what I was being quoted by the more vile of the lot.
My advice (which has worked well for me, so far) is to look for photo-manipulation artists who create good work for a tiny portion of what the more well-known are creating. They’re just mucking about with arranging images. It ain’t rocket science.
With advertising and reviews I would bump into requirements from both advertisers and reviewers who refused to look at the manuscripts unless I could prove that they had been professionally edited by one firm or another, needing to produce documentation that this had been done. Since I still had my files from when each of my books had been published previously (with my own revisions, additions, and corrections) this was something that had already been accomplished. But I’m not willing to jump through that kind of hoop, so I pretty much avoided any reviewer or advertiser who made such a stipulation. They remind me of those Komodo dragons who bite prey animals, knowing that most of those creatures will get away, but which will sicken and die from the lizard’s toxic bite and provide meals for the greater Komodo dragon community. I chose to just avoid these drooling creeps.
After weeks at this new game I have educated myself and found some things that work, and some things that do not. I quickly found out that I should avoid the promotions opportunities that are very, very inexpensive. They might seem like a good deal, but they’re really just a mild little scam that some guys have concocted to grab a few bucks from the millions of self-publishers trying to find fame and fortune.
Oh, well. This is a long learning process and I’m basically still a freshman in this. So I’ll cast about as logically as I can until I either find a bit of success, or come to the conclusion that there are just far too many people doing this and that it’s almost impossible to fight through the crowds. People keep telling me that about 6,000 self-published books appear every few days. I’m not sure if that’s true, but for some reason it sounds right and is about as sobering and depressing a number and situation as I have ever encountered.
Keep on keepin’ on, as my dad used to say.
|DEADLOCKED, available in both ebook and paperback.|
|THE EMISSARY, ebook, paperback, and audio coming soon.|
|THE COALITION Zombie Trilogy collected under one cover. Now out in ebook and paperback.|
|Coming soon will be the reintroduction of WORKING CLASS HERO. It’s still available in audio. But the ebook/paperback versions will be out soon, along with the sequel that I want to see in print. With a third book waiting in the wings.|