PERHAPS the biggest challenge for an author like me, publishing literary fiction under my own imprint, is to get the word out. One has to work mainly with the kindness of strangers, which means getting books to reviewers and hoping that among the 200,000 books published from companies each year that my book will be reviewed. Mine has, and well.
One of the absolute mandates if you do this is you have to get books to reviewers at least three months before publication. That means you need to resist the urge to publish right away. Imagine Peter Jackson making The Hobbit but having no advertising, publicity, or reviews before it showed up in theatres. People would find it, though the opening weekend, critical for sales, would be highly weakened.
Now imagine opening a movie you made without any advertising, publicity, or reviews. It's just there and THEN you start promoting it. This is what most self-published authors do. Most reviewers will not review a book that's already published. You'll be able to find a few if you have a great book, but you won't get a lot. If you think your book is strong, don’t miss getting reviews. Why not take marketing seriously?
For The Brightest Moon of the Century, I sent out sixty copies for review, and I had over three dozen respond with a review--both online reviewers and print reviewers. You can read my book’s reviews in full if you scroll for the list at the bottom of my Red Room screen. Most of the reviews are fabulous. Some reviewers, like Grady Harp, are masterful. I’m pleased with them all and have started some friendships, too.
I've learned reviews alone don't sell a book, but they make for a good foundation. When Henry Baum, my colleague at Backword Books and a fellow literary writer, told me that his new novel, The American Book of the Dead, was getting huge sales on the Kindle market, I asked him did he know why? He said, “I sponsored a day at Kindle Nation Daily.” I looked into that. It cost $65 then, two months ago, and now it’s $79.95. I was willing to try. Once I paid for a day, I was given a spot on the calendar two months down the road. Today is that day.
Amazon's Kindle is starting to shape the way people read, and Kindle Nation Daily is the #1 blog for Kindle readers. Steve Windwalker, who writes the blog, didn't have to write anything about my book. He could have simply put up the cover and the blurbs I sent him and called it a day. However, he enthusiastically discusses my book.
In fact, Windwalker opens by saying, “Talk about serendipity. I received an email from an author just last night in which she mentioned that she had written a ‘literary fiction’ novel, and wondered how that would go over with the citizens of Kindle Nation. I told her that my own tastes are pretty ecumenical, and that the same was true for many readers here, and that the same readers who have sent romances and hard-boiled suspense novels soaring into the Kindle Store Movers and Shakers' list have done the same for great literary fiction like Tonya Plank's Swallow and even for literary erotica like Rena Walmsley's Girl on Fire .
“The truth is that Kindle owners are the greatest readers in the world, and that Kindle Nation readers are the crème de la crème among all Kindle owners, and many of us, frankly, do not pay much attention to genre. “I for one am able to be fully entertained by the work of Joe Konrath , Robert Parker , Stieg Larsson , and Suzanne Collins and then turn without missing a beat to enjoy Emma Donoghue , Richard Ford, Francine Prose , or Jonathan Franzen , and there are plenty of other Kindle Nation citizens whose tastes run even wider. Fans of DeLillo , Joyce , Lawrence , Sue Miller , William H. Gass , Toni Morrison , and other authors from around the world? We're all here!
“The funny thing is that as I was responding to that author's email, I hadn't checked the calendar to see who today's sponsor would be, and it had been a couple of weeks since I had read The Brightest Moon of the Century , the enchanting literary novel that serves as today's sponsor. Here, among the greatest readers in the world, a great read is a great read and genre is secondary. And if you miss The Brightest Moon of the Century , you'll be missing a great read and an introduction to a master story teller.”
And so my hopes are high that I may get sales today. You can see the full entry of my book here: http://bit.ly/9L1M6q. He includes my bio and more.
In fact, Red Room might benefit from this approach—an inexpensive daily sponsorship by authors.
UPDATE: My book on Amazon started the morning out at #148,843 and now, before noon on the West Coast, it's gone up in ranking to #8,787.
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