Self-Publishing And Twitter - Early Days

About a month ago, I made a decision to up my Twitter usage, to see what happened. (Yeah, bit late, get with it, blah, blah, I know).

I wanted to see if Twitter could get my name out there and maybe boost sales of my books on Kindle or Smashwords.

I had a whole three followers before I started this, and was following about 10 people, mainly famous folk – Stephen Fry of course, Simon Pegg, some other amusing folk. 

So, without further ado, even though there hasn't been a single ado in this post yet, here’s what’s happened since:

I’m now hovering around the 100 followers mark. Mostly fellow self-published authors. But also the occasional Russian lady.

I’m already conscious that repetitive promotional tweets of my books may be putting off some followers and tempting them to click that dreaded unfollow button. So I keep them to a minimum and make sure they’re bloody interesting.

I’ve clicked on plenty of links suggested by tweets from some of the 130 odd people I’m now following. Usually useful tips and advice about self-publishing.

I haven’t bought any of the books some of the people I’m following have tweeted about. But I have clicked on a fair few links. (With all this writing and working to be done, I don’t get to read much.)

Some authors constantly retweet the same tweets selling their books. At the moment, that’s fine with me. Probably because I’m doing the same sort of thing.

The number of followers I’ve had fluctuates. I expect some people get pissed off with any kind of book promotion and just, well piss off and unfollow me. Fair enough.

I've turned into a Follower Hunter. I started off with a Tweet and Wait policy. Put something witty out there and wait for the followers to flood in. They trickled. So I had to get all proactive.

Of the 100 odd Tweets I’ve twittered on about over the past month, 1 has been retweeted.

But here’s the bottom line, which is why I’ve put it at the bottom and made it look like a line:

I haven’t sold any extra books. 

Is Writing Killing You?

According to this article on BBC News, it could be.

I don't know many (if any) people who write while standing up or doing anything other than sitting down.

And we all know how engrossing this business can be. You can really get into what you're writing and before you know it, it's dark outside, the dogs are whimpering for water and you've completely forgotten to do that other thing you were meant to be doing (whatever it was).

The article offers no solutions other than don't sit down so much, which surely translates to don't write so much. And let's face it, that's not an option.

So are we all prepared to die for our art?

One In A Million, Yeah, That's What You Are

Ahhh, it's great being referred to as 'one in a million' isn't it? Proves you're a rare gem. Someone who stands out by being different.

However, take the phrase at face value and things take a nasty turn. Because being just one among a million makes standing out nigh on impossible. You're just part of the crowd.

But, my fellow self-pubbers, that's the situation each of us faces. Our name is but one among a million wannabe authors. Our latest book but one among a million wannabe bestsellers. Our blog just one among a million wannabe favourites.

Would you back a million to one shot? That'd be the equivalent of putting your money on a one-legged elderly mare in a horse race brimming with shiny Grand National or Kentucky Derby winning specimens.

You'd have to be seriously deluded to think you could win.

Just as us unknown writers have to be suffering serious delusions to think we can overcome those odds and make our name and our work stand out from the rest.

Blatant Self Promotion

What the hell, this is my blog and this is the blurb for my one (and so far only) work of non-fiction.

Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes is the ideal read for grumblers, gripers, moaners and whiners.

And the Second Edition now has a whopping 80 things to moan about. That’s more than the last version, but less than the next, making it the ideal reference book for moaners looking for fresh ammunition with which to reload their moanchine guns or rediscover their moanjo.

There’s even a special reader offer at the end, which isn’t that special, but makes up for the lack of an index.

With so much value, insight and humor packed in, you would have thought there’d be nothing to moan about. But, unfortunately (for the author) there is. The price. Dirt and cheap spring to mind.

As you've made the effort to read this blog, you can get the book for FREE here, just by entering the code UH58G.

A Deluge Of Delusion

That’s what every self-publishing author is up against.

Because every day, hundreds, thousands of people are uploading their novels, truly believing their work is better than everyone else’s out there.

These are books that, but for the advent of e-publishing, would have remained in bottom drawers, under beds or just as computer files in 99.9% of cases.

But now they are all out there, some with half decent covers to dress them up. Some written by people who’ve never studied their craft, never trawled through twelve drafts, nor agonized over the wording of every sentence before inflicting their work on the public.

The challenge is how to get noticed amid this deluge. How to elevate your work above the tat.

I haven’t worked it out yet.

And I may be deluding myself by thinking it’s even possible.

Like most writers, I'm a shit at sales

I wanna write, not sell. Selling’s for salespeople, who wear ties and drive around all day and pull over into laybys for polystyrene and paper-packed lunches.

That life’s not for me. I wanna write write write until the sun goes down, the cows come home and other such cliches.

Recipe for anonymity that.

Who’s going to raise awareness of my books? Who’s going to tell people they’re out there and that they’re worth taking a look at? Not the guy in the layby. He’s too busy tucking into his cheese and tomato sandwich, figuring out a way to sell double glazed windows to people who just ain't interested. 

If he ain't doing my selling, and if I ain’t doing my selling, Mr Fucking Nobody is doing my selling.

I’ve got to dirty my hands. Spend time I’d rather be writing, on looking for ways to get people to read, review, and rate my shit. (These are the new 3R’s by the way. I just invented them, there and then. But that’s another post.)

The only person who can get my name out there, is me. Me, me, me. It really is all about me, me, me.

Thinking anything else would make me more deluded than I already am. Which, for the record, is very very deluded indeed.

Fellow self publishers: it's us against them.

Fellow self-publishers generating but a handful of sales. You are not my enemy. And I am not yours.

It is those who populate the top tens and top hundreds of the sales charts that we must aim for. It is their readership we want. Authors with agents fighting their corner. And hardbacks bearing their name. Authors with readers in their thousands who default to their titles because they’ve heard of them, or they've read something by them before, or a friend has said 'you should check them out', or they've got more five star ratings than a Michelin hotel guide.

These are the authors we want to become. These are the readers we must tempt with our words and our stories.

And we must feel no bitterness, only joy when one of our number breaks through. Hits the big time. For they are blazing a trail. Showing us it can be done. Giving us hope that it is we who will be next.

Proof: The truth isn't stranger than my fiction.

I’ve adopted this as my tagline for the next few days, or until I find a newer, and better one. Which could take months/years/never happen.

I’m currently embroiled in writing novel number three and needed a scene where an elderly farmer is eaten by his farm animals.

Frankly, the idea sounded ridiculous. Farm animals don’t eat humans do they? I risked losing my audience right at the start, which is where I needed this scene to go. No one would buy/believe such foolery.

But having criticized them earlier in the week for blatantly promotingJK Rowling’s new book on their news bulletin, I now find myself having to thank the BBC for drawing my attention to this story, straight out of Oregon, USA.

Still Deluded.

How many new books get uploaded to Amazon or Smashwords every day?
Every single day of every single week. Thousands of books by unknowns, wannabe's, those on the road from anonymity.
And every single author reckons their work has the chance of becoming the next big thing, the next number one seller.
Yet 99.9% of these will sell nothing, or next to nothing, which is, like, 1, isn't it?
Insurmountable odds. Ridiculous in fact.
You have to be deluded to think you are going to get anywhere with so much opposition.
There are only X amount of book readers in the world. Y should any of them bother with a book by a Z-lister when there are hundreds being released through proper publishers every year, written by authors at least a few people have heard of?
Might as well give up now.
And some will.
Some will say fuck that, what's the point, can't be arsed.
And I totally understand that point of view. I've even thought it myself.
But I can't bring myself to jack it in.
Not yet.

Createspace. Any point?

Now, much as I'd like to say I write to be read, and want as many people as possible to read my stuff, there's no doubt that it'd be nice to make a little bit of pocket money out of this business.

And that's what the digital versions of my books are currently doing, with the emphasis very much on 'little'. At the moment.

But what about good old print? It's still the most popular medium for the vast majority of readers, I suspect, though I have no evidence to support this. So it figures that it's a good idea to give your readers format options, right? No access to Kindles or Nobos or iPads or whatever? Nobo problem. Just look me up on Createspace and there's a good old paper version for you.

Trouble is, it works out very expensive. To make even a few pence profit out of it,  an author has to price their books upwards of $6. And given punters can get books by established authors for around that, or even less, who the hell is going to shell out that much for a book by an unknown? I've even seen some books going for upwards of $16.

That hasn't stopped me from producing a createspace version of The Money Star, of course (remember, I AM DELUDED). But it does stop me bothering to check my sales figures. Because unless I catch someone crazily drunk, or in an insanely generous mood, I'm not going to shift shit.

Which is why I haven't even bothered putting a link to my createspace page here.