I’ve been doing some experimenting with my writing the past while. Not the mad scientist experimenting (that happened when Jeff Hite and I brought out A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil), but trying out new things to see what might work out for me.
In this case, the experimenting has been around marketing and promotion, two things I tend to be very bad at for my own work. I can talk up other people and their work until the cows come home, but I always seem to have difficulty talking myself up.
But I digress.
Lately I have been reaching out more to agencies that can shelve my books (the latest was the local public library), going to gatherings I wouldn’t normally attend and using new technologies I haven’t tried before. So what have my results been?
When Mik Murdoch first came out, I tried contacting the local public library. My results were, to put it mildly, less than stellar. I don’t know if it was the timing, budgetary or simply that I was too new a face, but I got nowhere slowly. It was a shock, to be honest. Here I was, a local author offering to do readings and workshops for FREE and the library didn’t seem to want me or my book. My feelings were a tiny bit hurt (I know, poor me, right?) and I crept away with my tail between my legs. I didn’t approach the library again for months.
Then, a couple weeks ago I decided I had pouted enough and contacted the library again. Surely they would be interested in me now that I had a Prix Aurora short-listed book?
Long story short, they have (they tell me) ordered copies of my book to put into circulation. In the words of the Commander, “Never give up, never surrender!”
I’m trying a couple non-literary gatherings/conventions to see if I can improve my profile a little.
The first was a comic expo. I won’t say it was an epic failure because it truly wasn’t. I got to speak to some people and increase the interest in my books. It wasn’t an epic success either because there were so many people, it was difficult to attract any sort of attention. I’m going to rate this one a tie.
The second, which is coming up, is a Fall Community Arts and Crafts show (in my community). It hasn’t happened yet, but I have some hope that I will get good exposure in my own community and perhaps sell a few (LOTS!) books. I’m also hoping it might result in the invitation to do a school visit or two.
The third is to meet with youth groups. I’ve been reading (and telling) my stories with my Scouting organization for years now. I have offered to come in to speak to a Cub group about being an author. They have a badge that requires they talk to a writer, artist or some other creative and I know I can give good value. If it works with this group, I’m going to our area commissioner and offer to do the same for all local Scouting groups.
I have talked about two of the new technologies in past posts. The first is Wattpad. I’m having a lot of fun putting my story, Boyscouts of the Apocalypse up on Wattpad. It will be complete in the next week-and-a-half so have a read if you’re interested. I haven’t yet seen the kind of numbers friends of mine have managed, but there is still time. I’m about 80% sure I will be self-publishing the story as a future experiment. I know I’ve been asked about the book enough times to know there is interest in it.
The second if eBook cards. This one will truly be trialed at the craft show. I didn’t really have a good chance to show the cards off at the comic expo. I love that I can now carry an electronic copy of my book everywhere I go (for sale). It adds virtually no bulk to my wallet either.
The last technology I’m going to talk about is new to me. I’m sure some of you have heard of it though. I am referring to The Square. The Square is a nifty little device that you can plug into your iPad or iPhone to perform credit card transactions. It is really slick and I can see it helping me when I am at conventions because one question I often get is, can I pay with credit card. Today, that answer is YES!
So there you have it. Several forays into the unknown for me that I hope will improve my author profile (and consequently, sales of my books). As I have alluded, there are other experiments on the horizon. Some I know about (like self-publishing) and others I haven’t really considered or that are too early in development to really consider yet.
I think the constant activity of trying new things is crutial to success. For example, once upon a time, podcasting was an experiment for me. That experiment (in the form of Get Published) got me my first publishing contracts. That experiment has also gotten me many MANY great friends. Some are listeners, some artists, some authors. In every case, those meetings have made my personal and professional life richer.
What will be the next big thing? Who knows. All I can do is try new things and keep moving that bar forward.