Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm So Confused

Everyone is talking about books, reading books, mentioning books, advertising books and yet it's nearly impossible through social networking, hobnobbing, commenting, posting and talking about my own book to get anyone's attention. Must be information overload or I just don't know the right people.

It seems like the publishing industry is finally taking notes. Agents aren't as reluctant to sign a self-published author, although I suspect trying to tune up the work, get better cover art and guide the writer through the morass of punctuation, grammar and spelling (Spell Check doesn't get everything, especially when writing in the vernacular and what looks like vernacular but is just bad spelling). According to one publishing insider, publishers are willing to admit (after the flogging they endured at BEA in New York) that they don't know what sells and what people are reading. That came as no surprise to me as I have watched publishers put out dog after dog with huge advances and very little return. In fact, according that the publishing insider, 80-90% of all books published by the big guys fail to earn out advances or make them any money, and that's with 52.5% of the profit pie. I guess when there's nothing left but crumbs, 52.5% does not amount to much.

My task as been to maximize my income by choosing (and paying for) the best advertising. I had a brief and noticeable surge in sales when I advertised my novel in Kindle Nation for a day. It was not enough. The sales continue on a trickling basis, but I need a major gush that turns into a sustained and continuing spring runoff the likes of which will sweep away the southwestern part of the U.S., at least figuratively. Add in sales from the UK and Denmark (Amazon added those two venues to my ebook market) and I could just about make enough to pay for the advertising I need. Yes, it still takes advertising. After all, how am I going to find out the names and addresses and information on thousands of librarians, booksellers and book clubs without advertising?

It's all so confusing. It seems as though no one wants to buy and read a book about a young woman who is taken in by a con man, cast homeless onto the streets of New Orleans without friends and, just when things are looking up, is arrested and forced into close contact with (gasp!) criminals. What is a girl to do? She can hide in her cell, except that is not allowed. She can find a corner she can defend with a plastic fork that will likely break at a crucial moment. Or she can listen to the criminals and find out what really brought them to this low pass -- and then write about it. Well, I thought it was a good idea when I lived wrote about it. Now, I'm not so sure.

How does a writer get noticed without someone trumpeting from the rooftops? Read this book. It will expose the dark underbelly of New Orleans. Where is a town cryer for the thousands of towns all across the nation when I need one?

On a limited budget, the only thing is left is Twitter and Facebook, and I'm not good at the whole being a sparkling wit while dropping bits of wisdom, wry commentary and magnetizing the iron filings that are people to hover around my personal space panting for my next words. I write. I don't do socializing. I have no time. I have to earn the money to pay for the advertising.

AuthorBuzz costs between $1250 and $1850 for the cream of the advertising campaigns offered. Kirkus wanted my book three months before it was to debut in stores, except I decided to self-publish about two weeks before I actually self-published, having worked on the novel, refining, polishing, and tarting it up for two years. Every avenue I explore has a caveat and each caveat says, not here and not now. We needed your information six months ago. The gatekeepers are still keeping the gates shut, no matter what that publishing insider says.

So, until the gatekeepers review and change their policies to include intrepid authors jumping the queue and self-publishing, and until I can afford the kind of advertising campaign that will get my novel noticed, I'll have to wallow in the Horse Latitudes of self-publishing, commenting on well known blogs, writing posts like this, and saving up the money for advertising campaigns to promote my book.

In the meantime, I am writing another book. Anyone interested in a story about the woman who Dr. Jekyll tried to erase from his life through chemical ingestion onto create Edward Hyde and begin the most famous (and infamous) murder spree in Victorian English history?

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