Monday, April 19, 2010

Just a couple of things...

...Lurking, peering up out of the swamp.
That's things for you. You never know when one of 'em is going to leave a trail of wet footprints, a bit of duckweed, and a complete absence of Rover.

(It's not easy living with my mind) Now, to resume normal programming, I've had a few things on my mind lately (some with duckweed) and I was trying to decide just which to write about. Decisively, I have gone for both!

Firstly: http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=2&categoryID=12

Which is the 35% offer from Amazon. The higher one... is reputed to have more than just duckweed. It's lawyerese, a language which fills me with a (totally irrational I am sure) desire to attach the speaker/writer to a slab of wood (by means of six inch nails through the feet) and to suspend the same slab over a crocodile pond, until they learn to speak straight non-evasive English. The Baen contract, and the Tekno contracts should be used as standards - if it's more complicated (in Flesch terms if nothing else) it's over the crocodile pond with you. Still, there are a lot of you reading this blog, so if you want to have a look and leave comments about death-traps and nasty sneaky servitude for your children clauses that I might have missed I'd be grateful.

Secondly, the perennial issue of how the hades you get your work noticed. Let's face it: unless your publisher paid through the nose for your book (An advance of at least 25K but realistically closer to 100K - in which case they'll work hard to get their money back) you're effectively the only person who will market and push your book. You can argue about how right or wrong this is, or how wise or stupid, or if it actually works at all in anyone's favor, but that is the status quo. Whether you sign up to lawyerese above, go your own way, or get a publisher... your new book is one among tens of thousands. It's probably not even on display in 9/10 of bookstores, and it probably won't be re-ordered unless customers ask for it. That's the reality for 98% of us. You can either sit and whine about it... or at least work on it to the best of your ability. I've chosen the latter, in my best ineffectual style, and, of course perpetual ragged edge of disaster finances. I'm not much good at it, but hell, I try. So what possible ways are there?
Well... there is the I think DD prescript of forget about it and work on getting a lot of books on the shelf. People do notice that.
Then there is CV altnernative of everything from live shows to poetry. How she finds time to write I don't know, but I admire the effort. I am not sure about dividends or just how long haul practical this is. (and of course my famous Vogon poetry skillz do limit this option.)
There are cons and give-aways. which is very nice if you can get to cons, get anyone to come to your readings who isn't a reader already, and um... the cost and effectiveness of giveaways. I did what I could afford (which was VERY little) but if it had any effect, I am yet to hear of it.
Then there is our own Rowena's trailer - which is good but how could I get many people to see it, assuming I could do one?
Charlie Stross held forth a while ago about the only answer was blogging... which is all very well if you got in early and got a blog audience before there were 10 zillion to trawl through. Still, I am persuing this as best I can. I suspect I am nearly as naturally good at it as I am at childbirth. I'd noticed Ilona Gordon (who is good at it) mixes giveaways with hers, and guest blogs. I'm up for more ideas... besides persistance, that one I have got.

So there we are, friends, ladies, gentlemen, mantlepieces and others. In my inimitable style I now await your brickbats and comments on the Kindle thing and of course, how to get your book noticed. I'd prefer ideas that involve staying out of jail and alive, if it is all the same to you. And no duckweed.

22 comments:

Rita de Heer said...

Hi Dave, I've been worrying about that and I don't even have a book out yet.

I heard recently that persistence at whatever you/I/the writer next door are doing will put us in the way of serendipity.

Could work, you know.

Dave Freer said...

Rita - if persistance was ALL it took, I'd outsell Rowlings 16 ways to breakfast... Sadly, it's persistance at the right things and places that I think is called for. I'm beginning to think I need a strategy map for this.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave, I think it is largely a matter of luck. Being in the right place at the right time, with the right book.

Amanda Green said...

Dave, great post. I wish persistence was all it took. But there is a great deal of luck and, as Rowena said, being in the right place at the right time with the right book plays a role as well. As does being there with the right way of promoting yourself. I know Sarah's blog tours -- first for Darkship Thieves and now for No Will But His -- helped increase her Amazon numbers. But that took a lot of work on her part and even better luck of getting onto blogs with not only a regular readership but a readership that buys books. Without that latter factor, her hard work wouldn't have meant all that much.

Right now, regarding e-book sales, an author willing to put the time into not only writing the book but making sure the e-text looks good on the screen, has a decent cover and clickable table of contents can grab a number of readers simply by putting his book up on Amazon for a cost of $5.00 or less and then posting on the kindle boards that the book is there. Price the book for a limited time at $1.99 and announce it and that author has an even better chance of grabbing new readers. This is because of the fall-out of the agency model and pricing increases and/or delay in e-books. But that means searching for books that have reverted back to the author or writing a new book and risking pissing off your editor by publishing it yourself instead of letting them have a crack at it. So it can be a double-edged sword. But it is a sword more and more authors are starting to take.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I'm definitely taking the later route, Amanda, after I'm done killing the virus trying to kill me. I'm using books THEY rejected "too weird, too much like what's out there, too purple, too blue, too red, too pink -- whatever the excuse of the month" so editors/publishers can't exactly complain.
And I need to get cranking on those giveaway short stories.

Ori Pomerantz said...

To get noticed, you need to make noise. Given that shouting from Flinders Island is really hard, this means finding something else that is loud and riding its coat tails. I assume that's one of the reasons so many of your books are collaborations with Eric Flint. He's well known, so you get readers who want an Eric Flint book. You then keep them by being a good author.

I wonder if you could pull a Heinlein and use the Boy Scouts too. You're an expert in living off the land, which should be interesting to the same kind of boy who likes camping. Maybe a fantasy young adult that includes a lot of lessons on the subject?

Dave Freer said...

Rowena, I am one of nature's worst players of games of chance. If it is possible to lose, I will. Therefore I don't gamble unless I can... um... sufficiently influence the odds (ie. if I offered to bet you on something, don't ;-)). I'm not prepared to chuck and chance, and I believe strongly in the Gary Player maxim about him being lucky. "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

Kate said...

So far the only thing I've seen that's worked for anyone (short of major $$$ to get book EVERYWHERE) has been Sarah's blog tour.

For someone who's not prepared or able to sell themselves endlessly, that seems to be the best option.

Mike said...

Psst? Keep your eyes open, Jo Walton over on Tor.com just started walking through an introduction to authors and where should I start reading -- starting with the As. So when she hits the Fs, be prepared to join in?

Rita de Heer said...

I must be reading all the wrong blogs. Dave is not wrong, there are millions out there. I've never seen evidence of a "tour". Does it mean what I think ... Sarah writing book blurbs and submitting them on every blog she can?

Kate said...

Hi, Rita,

A blog tour is something relatively new - what Sarah did was to arrange with a number of blogs - not all of them strictly writing blogs, either - to do a guest post there.

She did guest posts on author blogs, fan blogs, genre blogs (several romance and SF/F blogs), general interest blogs, political blogs... Effectively touring the blogosphere - and every guest post was different, which I think is a first.

Does anyone have the list of Sarah's blog appearances? I know she guested at SFSignal and Scalzi's Whatever, but I honestly don't remember the rest of them.

Dave Freer said...

Amanda, blog tours are pretty good things - A guest post on Ilona Gordon's boosted save the dragons nicely. But they do rely on contacts with popular blogs.
The one thing I do like about facebook - I never know if my writing is just bad or I fail to entertain :-) It has the like button. Talking of which, its something no one has mentioned. I really think some authors are trying too hard there, and coming over as span (present company not included, but I have come across a few.

Dave Freer said...

Ori, yes, collaborations are a big help. I'm honestly not sure how to sell the idea to the boy scouts :-)

Dave Freer said...

Sarah - free stories are a good move. I've been wodering about something like a kindle freebie - with a for pay sequel.

Dave Freer said...

Mike -that seems pretty mercenary to me... I don't honestly know if I can do it.

Dave Freer said...

Rita, yeah, it's something that relies heavily on networking - And it is easier when you can recipriocate.

matapam said...

The Boy Scouts have a magazine. I wonder if they'd like a story about moving to a new place and learning to fish in a whole different way?

Being a mag they'd print all the pictures of your fish. Might need a picture of nighttime waders with spears.;)

Mike said...

Hum... you could enter the WorldCon short story contest? Only open to people from Oz...

http://www.aussiecon4.org.au/index.php?page=78

But Flinder's Island prolly qualifies?

Mike said...

Promoting your own work might be a bit cheesy, but watching it and perhaps contributing when the rest of us bring up that Freer guy... which of your books would you recommend people start with? Interesting question for any author, and interesting to see what the readers think is the best starting point, too.

Dave Freer said...

Lol -Mike Flinders possibly qualifies...

Dave Freer said...

Mike- that would be fair enough. It would depend on the reader - I'd probably say Pyramid Scheme or Dragons Ring (although RBV is IMO better than PS, it's less easy to relate to)

Mike said...

Hum... I know nothing about this, but Coyote Con is apparently going to be month long digital conference? This one talks about it...

http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/2010/04/coming-soon-coyote-con-virtual-digital.html

and here's the con link

http://coyotecon.com/