One of the things I’ve been thinking about during this self-publishing project is that time-honored maxim, ‘You only have one chance to make a first impression.’ Okay, that might be true if you’re trying to, y’know, impress someone on the spot. A potential date, a possible future boss, the audience watching your first stage performance. It also sounds like you need to do it right the first time, or it’s going to be black mark on your cv and you’ll forever be labeled a hack.
I agree with that maxim when it refers to getting your book out there (especially your first one)…to an extent. I agree when it pertains to making sure you’re providing the best work you’ve ever done. No ‘there-I-fixed-it’ kludge editing, no relying blindly on spellcheck, no half-assed cover thrown together in a five minutes, and especially no ‘meh, they won’t notice’ rookie mistakes. On that level, you want your book to be the most professional thing you’ve ever done to that date.
On the other hand, I’ve come to think that, even if my book is the best thing I’ve done, and that I’ve cleaned it up, spitshined it, formatted it, taken the steps to promote it, gave it a fifteen-point inspection and even rotated the tires, and led the call for all and sundry to come and bask in its awesomeness (or at least beg everyone buy the damn thing), I still might hear crickets upon the book’s arrival.
In this case, I still don’t think it’s necessarily true that I’ve spoiled that One Chance.
See, with my music obsession, I have a particular affinity for sleeper hits. The ones that might not be a big hit right out of the gate, but still manage to attract a decent following. The ones that the mainstream might not pay attention to right away, but will eventually. Like Loveless or Fantastic Planet or The La’s or any one of those brilliant albums that took a long time to show up on everyone’s Best Ever lists. They may have been minor hits at the time, but they didn’t get too far, at least not right away. They had to grow on people.
This is how I’ve been looking at getting A Division of Souls out to the masses, really. The most important thing, at least for me, is to get it out there first. I’ve not done too much promotion as of yet, other than tweeting pictures and emailing links whenever I see it in the wild. [The giddiness hasn’t abated, I admit.] Reason being, I’m about sixty pages away from finishing the final edit, plus I’m going to need to format it as well before I can upload. But once it’s up, it’s up and it’s live. And I’m going to need to promote it at that point.
Which begs the question: how to promote it?
Well, that’s the tricky part. And I’ll be going into that in future posts, once I get to that level. I’m still figuring it out right now.
Point being, part of the trick here is to avoid promoting it by making a huge pre-release scene over multiple platforms, like it’s a big Hollywood film. I know from personal experience that no one likes to have a product jammed down their throats, even if it is something they’ve been waiting a long time for. I’m taking the quieter route: magazine reviews, word of mouth, reader contact, freebies, consistent blogging, and so on. And a little further down the line, perhaps sitting in on a panel or two at a convention, limited release of physical copies, and so on. It’ll be a much longer route to take, of course, but in the end it should pay off because I’d be keeping the book visible for a longer amount of time.
At that point I’ll make a good first impression on a new reader, even if it takes a while. I’m in for the long haul.
If you would like to be one of the first to say “I was into his stuff before it was cool,” by all means! Here’s some linkage for you!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
I’ll of course add more as I find them. [Apparently I need to jump a few hurdles in order to have it available on Kindle…more on that when I get to that point.]
2 thoughts on “Adventures in Self-Publishing: The Myth of the One Chance for Success”
I think “one chance” only happens if you make a really, really bad impression, like if the book you put out is just a horrendous pile of garbage. But it’d have to be really, really bad. Otherwise, it’s just a journey where you keep getting better and better. There are a number of authors who self published for awhile, putting out different books until they hit it big.
That’s a very good and valid point! And something I might focus on in a future post…if anything, the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is paying attention to what I’m doing, so the book itself doesn’t end up a hot mess. 😉