I received an interesting piece of mail the other day. An author (who will remain nameless) sent a glossy, two-sided postcard, a glossy 5x7 photograph (signed, no less), a business card, and a "special extra" item related to his/her forthcoming book. A small press (with which I am unfamiliar) is releasing the book.
I was unfamiliar with the author or book before receiving the mailing.
I'm not going to buy it.
Yes, you have to promote your work for people to discover it. Of course. But take this anonymous author's work for example. The glossy, two-sided postcards aren't cheap. Add the photo, business card (glossy and full color), and the bonus item--not to mention the first class postage and envelope... Well, there was probably a good dollar's worth of stuff in that envelope (and that doesn't include the stamp).
Reasonable promotion? Not hardly--I don't know what anonymous author's percentage is, but considering a mass mailing will not have a very high success rate, I can't imagine it paying off.
Promotion should pay off. Writing is a business. Business is about making profit. If expenditures outstrip income, well... Find another business. I mailed a bunch of bookmarks, press releases, and review copies of Loathsome, Dark and Deep when it was released. You know what? With my latest royalty check, I've almost paid for my "promotion". I think the review copies (I mailed about ten), netted three or four reviews. Not good business sense, but I've learned.
Too many self-styled Indie-writers focus too much energy on the promotion of their books. Yes, promotion is necessary, but not as necessary as a good book. Are you getting what you "pay" for in terms of book promotion? Remember, your time has value, too. Time spent promoting is time away from writing. Or hanging out with your family. Or some other worthwhile pastime.
So I'll mention two new releases of mine, collections of stories (reprints from the small press with a few new nuggets tossed in):
The twelve stories in These Darkened Streets play on the foggy boundary between horror and magical realism . You'll find shivers here, dear reader, and other, more thought-provoking flights of imagination all set in small towns with dark, quiet streets...
A Feast of Flesh: Tales of undead fiends, bloodthirsty monsters, and hideous nightmare-ghouls waiting to rend and tear human flesh...
I'll mention them, but for now, that's about all. I have more stories to write.
Have a lovely day.