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Using a story as promotional material

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by John Xavier, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. John Xavier

    John Xavier Acolyte

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    First let me say hello and add that my immediate impression of this site is that it's great. Looking forward to posting here.

    Anyways, this is my situation. I just self-published a steampunk-fantasy short story collection on Kobo which I'm trying to develop interest in. I don't have an existing readership to draw on so basically I'm starting from scratch. I do have a wordpress site where I've posted other writing but only a couple of my posts there (academic-ish essays oddly enough) are getting regular views.

    Not being someone naturally inclined to self-promotion, I've been trying to develop a strategy that would suit me. Still in the initial stage of that. One idea I would like some feedback on though is this: the first story in my collection is designed to introduce the reader to the fantasy world I've created and a specific city within it (which will be the primary setting of my stories for the foreseeable future) Will freely sharing this be a viable approach? To my mind the question depends on if there are enough platforms that welcome previously published material - provided it's free. Which of course it will be. Basically I want to use this story as a teaser.

    I feel good about the story itself but I'm not sure how realistic it is for me to expect to be able to disseminate this one story across multiple platforms as a way to generate the awareness I'm looking for. Obviously it won't be the sole thing I do but (and maybe this is naive) I did think it would be a productive approach.

    Let me know what you think or if you have any more general advice regarding my situation. I know I have to look into goodreads for example but I am probably unfamiliar with a lot of major resources self-publishing authors should be aware of so please don't hesitate to steer me towards them.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  2. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    Book marketing is hard and slow, and short stories are among the hardest to market. That said, some people do sell them. If you ever move on to writing novels, and novels in a series, it will be somewhat easier. You have a website. Do you have a mailing list? Or at least a sign-up form on your website and at the back of your book? This is basic, even though it may take years to pay off.

    I think offering one of your stories for free is a good (almost essential) idea. Put links at the back to your mailing list sign up and website of course. Use the Kobo promotions and I'd recommend making your collection free for a week (once you have the mailing list link in your book) to build interest, and hopefully get some reviews. This worked well for me.

    I'm not sure what you mean by multiple platforms? Do you mean online booksellers like Amazon, Apple, B&N etc? If so, then yes, of course you can sell your stories there. I already do this with a free novelette and it slowly brings me readers.

    One of the best writers on book marketing is David Gaughran, and I'd recommend signing up to his mailing list, or at least downloading his free books. You can find him at davidgaughran.com.
     
    skip.knox likes this.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The only thing that really works is reaching out directly to reviewers and asking them to review your book.

    As for the short story, I would be hesitant. An excerpt would probably go farther most of the time. Short stories are a different format, and the impression I'm getting of your suggestion sounds more like an elaborate prologue - and some people hate those.

    Still, it's impossible to say for sure without actually seeing the short story. For all I know it wins a Hugo and rockets your book sales. Or you post it on wattpad and its gets a ton views and drives review-minded people to your book. Things happen.
     
  4. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    As far as marketing goes, make sure you put the focus on what the short story is actually about and downplay the introduction to universe part. As Devor said, lotsa people hate prologues.
     
  5. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    But he's
    selling a collection of short stories, not a novel. A free short story is the perfect choice in this situation because anyone buying a short story collection would already like short stories.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Whoops! I missed that entirely. My apologies.
     
  7. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    As a reader, I'd say a free short story is always welcome. And if I liked it, I might go ahead and buy the entire collection.
     
  8. John Xavier

    John Xavier Acolyte

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    These are excellent replies, thank you very much!


    Ned,

    I do not have a mailing list but I will certainly start one in accordance with your suggestions. And by platforms I literally mean any online service where posting my writing would be acceptable and (hopefully) effective. For example, I joined goodreads and posted the story there in their creative writing section. I even thought about instagram because as someone who writes poetry I've heard that poets use it successfully for self-promotion. And of course I joined a couple forums for feedback on the business and craft of writing. I just know I can't be on every single available platform and divide my time between them all so I'm trying to figure this out strategically and make sure I'm posting content where I can best develop an audience for my work. With this short story specifically, I was looking for places where posting previously published short stories is acceptable, but any content hosting platform steampunk short stories are welcome is something I'd like to know about. And obviously ones that focus on the fantasy reading community or even the steampunk community specifically, are the ones that seem to me the most desirable.

    Also, I'm completely appreciative now of the value of giving the book away for free. I was thinking I'd give it freely primarily to reviewers and other writers more established than myself that I get to know but I'll look into that free-week on Kobo thing.


    Devor,

    Could you give me some advice or suggestions on who specifically I should ask for reviews from. Or where I should be contacting reviewers. Because I was given that advice elsewhere recently and it's one of the reasons I made a goodreads account but I haven't embarked on that stage of my self-promotional odyssey yet. Foisting myself on strangers isn't really my thing but I am comfortable writing to people I don't know so that's not a problem from a personal standpoint. I just want to make sure I'm doing it in a socially acceptable manner.


    Kaspar,

    I will gladly send you your own copy if you like. Or the whole book if you prefer. Free of course. I mean, I have the story posted online at my wordpress site but I'll gladly provide pdf and epub versions of the collection to fellow authors and forum members if they express that interest to me. It's literary fantasy though whose main influences are probably Joyce, Dickens, and William Gibson but I like to think of it as P.G. Wodehouse meets Cormac McCarthy. Consider yourself duly warned. These stories are all what I guess would be called "grimbright" but the series will cover the grimbright-grimdark continuum with a strong emphasis on satirical black comedy, adventure, and plot. Let me know if you're game.
     
  9. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    Oh, I'm absolutely game! (unless you use the term in the meaning "Animals to be hunted down and killed")
     
  10. John Xavier

    John Xavier Acolyte

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    Great! I'll dm you about it.

    And no, I'm not searching for people to hunt in my own private safari... yet.

    When I am though I'll be sure to note your preference for not being included among the other "sport."
     
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