Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Does anyone actually enjoy ‘Promotion’?

One of the worst things about about being an author is that you have to work hard to promote your work in order for it to reach the readers. Back when I was an ‘amateur’ writer, by which I mean someone who wasn’t paid for what I wrote, it wasn’t such an issue, but now that I’ve turned ‘semi-pro’, by which I mean I do get do get paid but no-where near enough to make a living from writing, it has become very, very important.

In my amateur days I gave away my short stories for free in the UseNet group alt.sex.stories and on the websites StoriesOnline.net and EroticStories.com. Indeed, I still have many stories on both those sites for people to read for ‘free’. I’ve put ‘free’ in quotes because both websites require you to become a member and both offer free and paid for memberships which have certain enhancements over free membership.

When people don’t have to pay to read your work, that work is obviously going to attract more readers. But when your work costs up to six US dollars to buy (and therefore read) as Kissed by a Rose does, people want to know what they are getting before they shell out their hard-earned. But, as a ‘semi-pro’ the amount I get paid is based on the number of people that buy the books – yes, I’m paid on a royalty basis – no whacking great advances for me yet I’m afraid.

Now, Phaze offer me very generous royalties in my opinion, but I still need to shift the books to get paid. And that’s why promotion is so important.

This blog is a form of promotion, as is my presence on twitter and MySpace. My website is nothing more than a shop front aimed at pushing people towards my e-books. Some might find this statement odd given that there are some attractively packaged stories to download from free on the website, but, when you think about it, it actually makes sense to do that. I want people to read my free stories in the hope they will enjoy them enough to consider buying one of my Phaze books.

The other form of promotion that I use is excerpts. I often (but probably not as often or as widely as I should) post excerpts from Kissed by a Rose, Charlotte’s Secret and Lost & Found  in various Yahoo! groups. Targeted Yahoo! groups, obviously – ones where potential readers might be members.

The problem is that I have no idea which of the forms of promotion I’m using is working. I have no way of finding out from a particular reader where they heard about my book and what prompted them to buy it. and while i may see a surge in sales for a given month, I never get to find out if that surge happened all on one day/weekend due to a particularly good piece of promotion.

And this is the reason I really don’t enjoy promotion all that much. It’s so… random. So hit and miss. And I never seem to see any connection between what I do and sales I make.  I’m sure a lot of other authors feel the same way.

Still, it’s something we have to live with. We can’t not promote or readers would never hear of us and we’d never sell anything.

Anyway, since it’s been such a long time since I posted any excerpts from any of my books on this blog, I thought I’d remedy that over the next few days and post a few. I’ll probably post the first later today. I hope you enjoy them and who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy them enough to go out and buy the relevant book if you haven’t already ;-)

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