Outlooks and Expectations

I’m not sure what I expected when I first put my books up for sale. I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to quit my day job and spend my mornings hanging upside down from a pair of gravity boots to jumpstart a days’ worth of creativity and more writing. Nor did I picture myself spreading out a tarp in the middle of a busy pedestrian area hawking extra copies to strangers. Or even walking into a bookstore and surreptitiously sliding a few copies onto the shelves between James Joyce and J.K. Rowling. I guess I thought people would stumble across them by chance: a mix of happy accidents and unhappy disappointments no doubt.

Looking back on that, my lack of a marketing plan was certainly a recipe for something other than success. I don’t think I had many more ideas than simply getting reviewed and trying to half-heartedly build a web presence via writing chat rooms and whatnot. This was largely due to my disinterest in sales, marketing, and business generally. A disinterest, incidentally, that I now feel stronger than I did then.

Nevertheless, this issue of visibility for one’s work is an important one for new and budding writers. There are quite a number of very reputable reviewers that you can pitch your book to (in fact, POD People just weighed in on “Randolph’s One Bedroom”, check it out here ), and getting involved in chat rooms and writers’ forums is a great way to get your name out there. For those of you living in English-speaking countries, I’d also suggest meeting with bookstore owners or managers to try and arrange signings and to get your book on their shelves. I know that Mark Porter has made some great inroads along these lines, and he’s also lined up a number of interviews.

Whatever your marketing plan may be though, I think it’s wise to sit down and think about what your goals and expectations are well before you go to press, as it were. Consider what you want to get out of selling your book before you start selling it. If you’re basically just in it for a bit of fun, then you’ll obviously be in a different situation from someone who’s wanting to make a living out of writing. I don’t mean to say that one particular mindset is any better than another, or that someone with an MBA will make a better author than someone with a background in physics, but the fact of the matter is that as PODers we are all wearing quite a few more hats than just that of a writer. And to be successful, in whatever sense that term may mean to you, we need to look at ourselves and our work from every possible angle.

Or you could be stupid like me and just throw something out there to see what happens.

Next week, Paul j Rogers takes a look at submitting to agents.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    “Or even walking into a bookstore and surreptitiously sliding a few copies onto the shelves between James Joyce and J.K. Rowling.”

    Yep.

    Although, good news today. ‘News From Nowhere’ in Bold Street, Liverpool and ‘The Runaway Mule’, Nacogdoches, Texas are both going to be carrying paperback editions of Dogs from mid March, in additon to those suppliers picking up through Amazon.

    I know I would like my writing to speak for itself but I also know there is an awful lot of noise to compete with. You are asolutely right, Andrew. It takes almost as much energy to promote as it does to get the book written. For all that, it is a great feeling when feedback is positive. Having read ‘Randolph’s One Bedroom’ more than once, I often think a TV version would do very well.

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