Monday, December 13, 2010

Adventures in Book Promotion

My writing life is one grand experiment, and like an good science project, complete and utter failure is always an option. You all know Belfire Press recently released my first novel: Loathsome, Dark and Deep.

I have to tell the truth: it's pretty exciting to receive a box of books with my name on them. Exciting and frightening. I've come to realize with any creative endeavor there comes a time to promote (unless said endeavor is strictly for personal enjoyment). Promotion doesn't come naturally to many writers, especially those of us who hide in dark places and punch out stories about even darker places. But if I don't talk about my book and do my damnedest to promote it, it might as well stay in the box and go under the bed in the Man Cave.

Well shit. I guess I have to come out of the dark then. Again, I see writing as an experiment. Some of the things I do, whether in a story or in "promotion," will fail. Hopefully, I can learn from failure, just as I can learn when a story "fails" (and doesn't sell).

So along with the grand experiment of writing a book and seeing it published, I'm stuffing envelopes with letters and bookmarks bound for independent bookstores which specialize in dark fiction and libraries. I'm gearing up to shake some hands with area booksellers. In addition, I'm running a second contest to promote Loathsome. Will the cash I've sunk into these endeavors pay off? I don't know, but not doing anything is the quickest path to failure.

So enough about failure. What would success look like, realistically? I'm not sure I have a clear picture, but I want people to read my book (and maybe even enjoy it). I want as many people to read and enjoy it as possible.

Some of you know I've taken a leap into another experiment. I'm offering Rock Gods and Scary Monsters on Kindle. (I have been for over a month, but you know how things are if you don't promote them at all.) It's a YA book (some of you "veterans" might remember my rambles about it a few years ago). It's not perfect. It's an experiment. But I'll tell you something--if I don't talk about it no one else will. Self-promotion is a necessary evil. Hell, I don't even know that I'd call it evil. It just is. Jeremy D. Brooks (author of Amity--read it) calls this thing we do "literary buskering". Yeah. That feels about right.


Writing a good story is important. It's the most important thing. But promotion--buskering--needs to happen, too. My comfort and skill telling stories has outpaced my comfort and skill in promotion. I feel it's such a fine line to walk between hubris/self-aggrandizing and genuine love for storytelling.

It's an experiment.

I'll fail. I'll learn from my failures (I hope).

And I'll tell you all about it when it happens. There are no secrets among inmates.

16 comments:

Barry Napier said...

You are quite the busy man. And I am right there with you on not liking the promotion side of this. I suck so bad at it.

Also, awesome news on Rock Gods and Scary Monsters. This is news to me. Best of luck with it. I am still teetering on the edge about whether or not to do the same with The Masks of Our Fathers...

Aaron Polson said...

Barry - There reaches a point where a guy just has to say f**k it and do what feels right. Letting the book "go away" because I was tired of the query carnival wasn't the right thing to do.

Michael Stone said...

Those boxes of books are both uplifting and scary, aren't they?! I'll relieve you of one of them when Stitches 2 comes up for ordering, if that's ok with you?

Michael Stone said...

Um, one of the books, not the boxes. :)

Cate Gardner said...

I caved in to my to read 'file' and started reading Rock Gods at the weekend.

Love those pictures. There's nothing quite like a box of your books.

L.R. Bonehill said...

Serious congrats, Aaron – that’s one nice looking box. Long may the grand experiment continue.

Daniel W. Powell said...

It's awesome to see those books, Aaron. They look great. I'll get a review up online after I finish with my copy.

Keep beating the bushes. Keep getting content in the hands of your readers and you'll see a moment when the inertia just becomes self sustaining.

Rabid Fox said...

Best of luck with the promotion. Should I ever find myself staring at a box of my own books someday, I know getting out there to gladhand the masses will be the most daunting task.

Aaron Polson said...

Of course, Mike. (that would have doubled my sales - ha!)

Cate - Let me know what you think (about Rock Gods). The joy of self/independent publishing, especially electronically, is that you can yank the file and fix it if you want.

L.R. - Thanks! I hope to experiment for the rest of my life.

Daniel - I've seen little tipping points along the way. Thanks for your support.

Gef - You'd think a HS teacher wouldn't have so much "promotion anxiety"...I blab in front of a crowd of teenagers every day...

K.C. Shaw said...

Those books look awfully cool in that box! I hope the promotions effort pays off--it's something I'm absolutely horrible at myself.

Are you going to offer Rock Gods & Scary Monsters on any other ebook platforms? I'd love to read it on my Sony reader or my mom's Nook!

Katey said...

What KC said--even a pdf and I'd be in heaven. Might be a pain in the ass, and I know I'll read it anyhow, but hey, it's a thought.

It's always an experiment. Honestly, the promo stuff can be kinda fun too. It's frustrating when you're testing the waters, and god knows if we wanted to get out there and entertain people to their faces we'd be in bands or Hollywood (waiting tables). But it's amazing what we can do when we have to.

Looks to me like a brilliant start!

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. (& Katey) - Getting Rock Gods on Smashwords is on my "to do" list.

Thanks, Katey. I'm trying. I spent study hall stuffing envelopes to send to libraries. Will I get a nibble? Who knows. Have to try, though. And you might get your PDF wish...

Danielle Ferries said...

Waiting impatiently for my copy to arrive so I can give it another plug :) Promote the hell out of it I say.

Ricky Bush said...

S-W-E-E-T box of books you have their Aaron. Just think how sweeter it'll be once that same box is empty and the books have found their readers. Just think of yourself as a small business.

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, Danielle

Ricky - I'm starting to understand the small business side of things.

Simon Kewin said...

Aaron,

Great work - your promotional efforts are inspiring. I've put a few short stories and novelettes out electronically in a similar spirit of experimentation. It's interesting to see where things sell and where they don't. Ny experience has basically been that things sell on the Kindle store but not a whole load of other places! It'll be interesting to see how you fare.