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Discussion in 'Self-Promotion' started by Malik, Feb 18, 2021.

  1. Malik

    Malik Auror

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  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    That's awesome, congrats!
     
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  3. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    Congrats! That's awesome indeed!
     
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  4. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Congrats!
     
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  5. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    We won't tell them what writing really looks like...

    19c989e9788a9eb1a4bfeb07d87b310e.jpg
     
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  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    That pic is a fair representation of my writing workspace....
     
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  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    been thinking about this lately.

    Malik, as I understand it, didn't so much 'self-publish' as found his own 'mini-publishing company,' combined with a substantial promotional campaign.

    Some years back, we had another poster at this site, Michael Sullivan, who did the same (or close to it) with his 'Riariah Revelations' - a six book series published as a trilogy through his wife's 'imprint.' For a time, that series was hailed as the next 'Lord of the Rings' and whatnot. After reading it...well, I had doubts. These days, it's still out there, still getting good reviews (1000+ 4-5 stars for each), and priced in the same range as Malik's books...but, well...the 'luster' is gone, for want of a better term.

    I read a *lot.' Probably more than most of the regulars on this site. Book a day, sometimes more. (A bit less these last few months when work went wonky). I get emails with lists of current bargains from 'Book Bub' and 'Amazon.' My Facebook is inundated with adds for books. I'll flip through horizontal add lists on Amazon for other books, check elsewhere. I jot down the titles of the ones that intrigue me, and maybe buy them at a later date. I can't keep up with even a tiny fraction of the newer releases even with as much as I read.

    One thing I've noticed is that no small number of the books repeatedly turning up have maybe ten or twenty reviews, often in the four star range. Sometimes these books are pretty good, other times they're horrible. Many could stand a good edit. Still, they keep turning up in the adds.

    Another thing I've noticed is the 'return of the classics' - the best books from decades past (thing is, I read most of these ages ago, but don't always remember straight off.) What intrigues me here is the *durability* of these books - no few of them were written back when I was a teenager, or before that. Yet, here they are, still selling, and going from the reviews attracting newer readers. That durability is *rare.* I don't know about Malik's books (they're on the too be read list) but I doubt Sullivan's series will be 'durable.'

    Then there are the 'boxed sets' (odd term for digital books). Three, four, five, or more books bundled together and offered at a low, low price. Currently, I'm working my way through two of these, about eight books into the one (Gilia Chronicles) and five or six into the other (Blue Moon Investigations). These series both have issues...but they have held my interest - which is not so easy anymore. (I seldom get past book 2 in a series these days.)

    More and more, I wonder about this situation.

    More to the point: I do see adds and mentions of books by current and prior posters on this site on Amazon, Facebook, and elsewhere. Thus far, though, Malik's books are not among them. (though given sheer volume, it's quite possible I missed them). Were I not a regular visitor here, I likely would not know of his books.
     
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  8. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    This is awesome, because I didn't know Michael Sullivan had been on this site. He was one of the influences for my business model, at least as far as the quality of his covers and editing. For my money, he's arguably the most successful indie fantasy author in history, and the guy doesn't cut corners. I figured those two things had to be related.

    I think the durability is there. His writing is solid, clean, professional prose, simple, yet evocative, with broad appeal. I expect his books will be around for a long while. I leaned on thriller authors, particularly Clancy, Crichton, and Lustbader, when writing Dragon's Trail and looked to editors with thriller creds instead of fantasy creds, trying to capture some of that same ease without stepping directly into Sullivan's lane. I also assessed there would be a market for fantasy written like a modern thriller. (For The New Magic, I leaned into Eco, Pynchon, Gass, Vollman, Gaddis, all the master stylists I love to read and reread. It produced a beautifully written book which is the best writing I've ever done and ever may, but it sold a fifth as many copies and fans hated it. The finale to this series will be in the same style, but I'm going back to commercial-fiction voicing on the next series and everything to follow.)
     
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  9. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    That's bullshit.
    And I don't mean that in the "you're wrong" kind of way.

    Sorry to hear about that. I wouldn't have guessed. :/
     
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  10. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Thanks. And hey, it happens. I should have saved the stylism for another series. It very likely killed this one (granted, it had a lot of help; The New Magic came out on a wave of "Most Anticipated" lists next to household names, and as such, it was heavily pirated from the day it came out). I don't even think a third book would make any kind of financial sense. Frankly, when I finish it in a few months, I may hold off on release until I have a few grand I know I can lose, or maybe coordinate it with the release of the first book in the next series in 2023 or something.

    OTOH, Dragon's Trail is still selling.
     
  11. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Michael Sullivan posted here for a few months years ago, focusing mostly on marketing.

    Get right down to it, while we have probably two dozen plus published and self published authors on this site, I normally see just two in the various adverts:

    Rice, for 'Eve of Snows'

    and

    Bevan, for 'Critical Failures' (and it's been ages since Bevan posted here).

    Again, though, it is very possible I missed adverts for other works by authors on this site.

    That tells me something about the degree of saturation out there. I'm under no illusions; yes I plan to advertise via Facebook and whatever deal Amazon has going...but I'll be flabbergasted if any book of mine sells even a hundred copies in the first year. Half that many is probably a stretch.
     
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  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I think there is little to no difference between self-publishing and founding your own publishing company and publishing. Or rather, it's not black or white, but rather a continuum in how focussed on quality you are as an indie-author. Creating a publishing company is as simple as going to your local ISBN vendor and typing in a name when you buy the ISBN's. That's all there is to it.

    Self publishing a book goes from "finish your manuscript, draw up a cover in paint and put it on amazon" to "hire professional editors for all steps of the process, get a professional cover made and the interior formatted, and put thousands into marketing the book". Success can be found at all ends of that spectrum, but it's perhaps a different kind of succes. If you are on the cheaper end of the scale, chances are that your story will have less staying power. Which means that to be a succesful author you will need to write high volume fiction. The modern day equivalent of the 70's pulp. If you're on the higher end of the scale you can become Malik. Both are paths to succes, they're just different.

    With the novel I'm publishing in april I decided to go for the more professional route. I got a developmental edit, then a content edit and a final proofread. And I think the book is much better for it. There were a few structural changes which greatly improved the flow of the story, the prose was greatly improved. It was perfectly readable without it, but it's a clear step up. We'll see how it sells (part of that will be down to advertising etc), but I'm happy with the quality of the work. Of course, it will take a while to make its money back, but I think it has a higher chance of turning readers into fans.
    Very true. It's a crowded market out there. I'll see if at some point I can get my ads in front of you ;) As for selling them, get your parents to buy a ton, that helps reaching 50 sales ;)
     
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  13. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I also haven't bought an Amazon ad since January 2019. Everything for me at this point is the Also-Bought algorithm, word of mouth, or someone picking it up in a bookstore because (Thank You, Jesus), "Malik" is right next to "Martin" in the SF/F section.

    Amazon ads are literally a sucker's bet; the payoff is almost always less than the wager. I discussed this in another thread: Screwing yourself by charging too little?

    I make far more now by moving fewer copies per day at a higher price point with no ad costs than I would by moving more copies at, say, $3.99 while hemorrhaging money on Kindle ads. The hard part was swallowing my pride and accepting that my rankings would tank.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
  14. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I advertised a fair bit on Amazon in the first year after LD#1 was released, but in the end it wound up costing me a lot more than I made back in sales.
    Partly, it's due to the book, and partly, it's due to marketing. I never really got my head around it, never figured out what my target audience is, and I still don't really have a plan.

    For now, I've gone back to writing-as-a-hobby, and not as a potential way of creating an extra income. The piece of advice I'm going with is that the best way to sell a book is to write another book.
    The only marketing I do these days is through online interactions. When it makes sense to mention my books, I do, and otherwise, well, I don't.
    What I also do is try to be active in reader communities. It's not advertising/marketing as such, but it's fun, and it's usually where the opportunities to talk about my books appear. I feel like people are more interested in what I have to say if I'm someone they know, than if I'm someone who drops by with a link to an amazon page and tell them to buy my book.
     
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  15. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I think pretty much everyone here is right, or at least dancing to the same reel. If anyone looks at either of our books at Amazon or Goodreads, we're published through Phoenix Quill Books. Obviously, that's us, and one day (*crosses fingers*) we'll be able to offer a hand up to other authors and give them an umbrella to hold back some of the rain. But for now, it's just us slogging our way through a genre (urban fantasy) that's notoriously slow to find its feet.

    Nobody knows this because I only talk about this stuff here, with our closest compatriots, but I had a MAJOR breakdown this week. I haven't been able to write hardly anything since my parents died and Book 3 is two years late. I'm 15 chapters from the end and... nothing. I know what's going to happen, and I know its going to be epic, but all I have in my head are goblins and ogres saying I should have taken us trad. Which would have ended up getting the series cancelled because writing while mentally ill is challenging. And we're back on the merry-go-round again,

    Writing is hard. Indie is harder. There is no one way to succeed at it and I drink a coffee for everyone who finds their path (which explains the hyperactivity). You guys are our friends and we have boundless respect and affection for each and every one of you (and coffee).

    And by the way, I also liked The New Magic. I'm a very, very slow reader when I'm like this, but I also think I'll love everyone else's books, too, because I know you. You don't cut corners, you strive for excellence, and you are just as psycho-perfectionist as we are.

    You are our tribe, and we will all find our way together.
     
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  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    For what it's worth, you're not alone. When work went wonky back in October, my writing output plummeted. Stuck at it mostly through sheer determination to write something each night, even if it was just a couple hundred words of crap. Three months to do 11,000 words. I'd thought to have the current WIP wrapped up prior to this April's NaNo...but that's not going to happen. One big key chapter to finish, two more critical chapters to write, plus assorted events and scenes that'll make for probably four or five more chapters plus a prologue. Two ways to do the last scene of the last chapter, and I'm not sure about either one. (I find myself looking forward to shorter tales this summer, such as 'Mirage') and others set on the 'Eldritch World'
     
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  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I talked to JV about this thread yesterday and she also says, "Bullsh*t." She says The New Magic left her "emotionally compromised." Yay!.

    69890474_2292619397504022_7915352597400125440_n.jpg
     
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  18. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Also, JV, who is smarter than I am, points out that The New Magic is a better book than Dragon's Trail, which given sequel-itis is no mean feat. It might not have been the book that a lot of your fans were expecting, but it's stronger, it's more complex, and it's deeper. You can't control how readers, especially the sort of readers who only like reading the same book over and over, will respond to your work, but I do know that you can control your growth as a writer, and at that you're excelling. Keep it up! I want to read your Book 3 before ours releases. :D
     
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  19. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    There is heavy truth in this.

    My thinking from here is to keep writing stuff in the vein of The New Magic for independent release, but use the mass-appeal style of Dragon's Trail and now Stonelands for the manuscripts we shop to traditional publishers.

    For what it's worth, Coin of the Realm is coming out artsy AF:


    COTR Chp II Intro.PNG

    It's also the touchstone that sets up the entire saga, so, you know, no pressure or anything.

    By the time I get into the series that follows Stonelands, readers may not grasp the full importance of some of the key plot points if they didn't read Coin of the Realm. I'll write each series to stand on its own, but each will carry far more weight if you know the history. (Stonelands has a couple of in-jokes and a cameo from Dragon's Trail, which made it immensely fun to write.)

    I have to get Coin of the Realm exactly right, because not only is it a series finale, but it tees off seven more books. However, it's looking like the book that the fewest people are going to read, at least at release. So, that'll be fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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