Regulars to this site know that it’s an eclectic mix of Brett J. Talley self-advertisement, humor, music, and chronicle of my own journey into the bizarre world that is publication. And man, do I learn something new every day about it. I think most aspiring authors think if they can just get the book finished and get it published, then they are golden. Fame and fortune await! And that may very well be true if you are published by a major publisher like Random House. (I don’t actually know what that’s like, but in my mind I imagine Random House editors feeding their authors grapes while reading them their latest glowing New York Times review). But if you are an Indie or self-publisher, you know that getting the book on paper is just the first step. Dreaded marketing then awaits.
After all, if nobody knows about your book, how can they decide to read it? Oh but there are pitfalls, my friends. Say, speaking hypothetically of course, you have a really well-reviewed book of Lovecraftian/Gothic horror. Now, there are dozens of sites on the internet where lovers of such things gather. So you show up at one of those sites. “Hey guys!” you say. “Just wanted you to know I wrote this book you might like. Check out some of the reviews and see what you think.” Seems perfectly reasonable, right?
The problem is, people really kind of hate that sort of thing. The wheretos and the whyfors of that are complicated. Part of it is you have to earn your way into the group. You have to build up your credibility. The problem for you, of course, is while you probably want to do that, you don’t have time. And more importantly, the first thing you want to talk about is your book. You may think the group is the greatest thing since chocolate oranges, but your participation starts with your novel, even if it ends with something else.
Perhaps more importantly for the group, there are lots of you out there. Everybody and their mother is writing these days. It’s a great thing; now with self-publishing, writing is democratized. People can do it on the cheap. But that also means there are literally thousands (tens of thousands?) of people out there marketing for themselves. And so for a group that really just wants to focus on whether Azathoth or Nyarlathotep is cooler, when dozens of authors showing up basically shouting “Buy my book! Buy my book!”, it’s rather off-putting.
I think the key is to be respectful of the group and its rules, to try and accommodate yourself to their ways, to be almost apologetic for bothering them at all. The fact is, most people like to hear about new things, especially when it interests them. Two groups that have treated me especially well are the H.P. Lovecraft group on Facebook and the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, also on Facebook. I have to say a special word about the HPHLS. They are the source for everything Lovecraftian from radio plays based on his works, to movies, to clothes, and everything in between. The fact that they are a business makes it even cooler that they have allowed me to sell my own wares via their Facebook page. I hope you will check them out.
This post is getting long, but I do want to share one of my marketing failures, just to show you the pitfalls you might run into. Since I started this thing, I have discovered all sorts of cool stuff on the internet I never knew existed. One of them was Reddit. If you are like me, Reddit is just one of the funny looking buttons at the bottom of this blog post. Apparently some of you have been clicking it, as I began to notice I was getting hits back from that site. So I went to check it out. I still don’t know exactly what it is, but it appears to be some sort of news aggregator (just writing this makes me feel old). People subscribe to certain interests and whenever someone clicks the Reddit button on a blog post and tags it with that interest, it shows up in their feed. If they like it they can give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down if they don’t. They can also comment on it. And there’s even a Lovecraft interest. Yesterday, as you may remember, I posted a good review of That Which Should Not Be. Thinking that this would be something Lovecraftian types would want to read, I sent it to Reddit. Apparently that was a mistake. People said I was a spammer. I didn’t have enough “link karma” (?) and was not engaged with the community (I just thought it was a news aggregator! I didn’t know it was a community 😦 Sadness.) Anger abounded and I was basically banned from Lovecraft Reddit. As an Independent Author, that’s a pretty bad result. I apologized, but I am pretty sure they all hate me at this point. The Reddit experiment was a bust. Yay, the joys of writing!