It’s not just proofing and re-proofreading my work–everything from reclaiming the rights to my books to getting them onto as many download sites as possible is taking a lot longer than I ever expected. Not a terrible biggie since I’m not ready to keel over despite what friends say. And, as impatient as I am to be writing new Matt Jacob books, I do accept the importance of all the above.
Still, there is one remaining area that has my stomach in a knot; how to become part of the signal rather than the noise of the Internet. There’s the usual press release to particular blogs, websites, virtual and non-virtual newspapers that deal with books–especially mysteries. There’s the hope of invitations to write guest posts about writing in general, writing a series, writing about my main man Matt himself. And of course I’d love to be interviewed. Plus, I have a friend who is actually good at this, Sherri
Frank Mazzotta who is on the Steering Committee of The Newburyport Literary Festival: http://www.newburyportliteraryfestival.org/ and she has been willing to help more than I could have hoped for.
But my gut tells me that even if everything I just mentioned comes true, it still wouldn’t be enough. Because books sell through word of mouth. That is true of the paper versions in brick and mortar stores and it’s just as true–perhaps even more so–in this virtual world. Frankly, I’ve yet to conceive any strategy that actually creates word of mouth despite reading a fair amount of writers who post about this notion of “branding.” Should I brand my reviews, my character, or myself?
I’ve watched authors plug away on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other sites. Hell, I do the same thing for my Monday posts. I’ve watched as other writers give their books away free, charge 99 cents, have super-sales, and join collectives with the hope that the combined force of their work breaks through and creates that word of mouth.
Maybe some or all of these things actually work. I’m not privy to sales figures. But, at least right now, ninety nine centing, pushing my work everywhere I can, leaves me scratching my head ’cause I find this a really tough do.
I’ve been here before so knew this was coming, and was going to be an issue. When I was publishing through traditional channels, it was the same conundrum. But before was nearly twenty years ago and I found it easier to do that which I found uncomfortable. I humped out whatever speaking gigs I could, though I never read from my books. Even back then that took more hubris than I possessed. But I did find places which wanted me to speak and mostly I worried whether the publishing house actually sent the stores or groups books for me to sell. Often they didn’t. Sometimes they actually did. Usually because the sales rep for New England (with whom I still remain good friends) hammered on their head.
(An aside: Of all the people I met in the world of traditional publishing, I found the reps to be the most knowledgeable, most dedicated, and thoroughly committed to both authors and independent bookstores than anyone else. It was a pleasure to go to their parties and talk books because they actually read ’em and passed them around to each other. No surprise that by the end of my run, reps were being fired by the truckload as the independent bookstores were getting hacked by Borders, Barnes and Noble, and other chains. And here I am writing for the Internet companies. I’ll feel better when I get to Ties that Blind, my fourth book in the original series, and beyond because they will be available as ‘books on demand’ at local bookstores that can print them like The Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Ma. http://harvardbookstore.com/ and other independent stores that I will find and link to.)
Obviously I feel pretty damn uncomfortable pushing my own work–no matter how good I think it is. So part of my new challenges will be to search for ideas to develop a personal method of generating buzz. Ways that are comfortable to create this word of mouth phenomena.
So friends, readers, eventually all my copyediting will be finished and I’ll have to turn my attention to publicity. Get ready ’cause I’m gonna need your help.
But not to worry now–next week I’m back to my opinion posts and will keep the proofing to myself.
“A person is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
– John Barrymore