Okay, you’ve written a book. Congratulations! I don’t say that lightly either. As an author of two full length novels, I know writing a book can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, especially if you’ve put the dedication into writing a great book and not just a bunch of fluff on pages.
But now what? Have you heard the saying, that writing the book is just half the battle while marketing it is the other half? When I first heard this comment, I was nearly finished writing my first novel. I thought, that’s crazy, because writing this book has taken me years. No way can marketing it be as difficult. Unfortunately I was in for a surprise in the form of a hard lesson, as they usually seem to be in my life. Advice like this came to me and I thought, yeah, maybe for someone else, but I’ll be a success right out of the gates because my book is pure genius. It has to work!
And I still believe success is coming, it’s just the “right out of the gates” part that I’ve come to realize was painfully inaccurate. We all like to think our words are golden and when we finish writing our books, our certain best-sellers, that they’re just going to fly right out of our hands and into the eyes of readers around the world. Agents and publishers will beat a path to our door to whisk us off our feet with huge advances, offers for sequels and world tour book signings. Movie producers will fight over the rights to make the next Oscar winning best picture. We may even imagine what we’ll wear on the red carpet at Oscar night and how our speech will go… thanking the little people… the tearful moment… etc.
It’s a great dream. I know because I’ve been dreaming it for several years now. I haven’t given up on the ultimate goals of the dream, but I have altered my timeframe for all of this to happen. It came out of necessity, not by choice.
And please know this; I’m not here to squash anyone’s dream. In fact, just the opposite. I encourage everyone to dream big. Hopefully your book, or books, will be tremendously successful and touch the lives of millions of readers. What I am here to do is help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made after finishing my first novel. Because I found out the hard way that there are dozens of things I could have done FOR FREE that would have been more effective for marketing and selling my books than the things I did.
A little background about my experience;
Back in 1990 I graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in RTVMP (radio, television, motion picture). I moved to Los Angeles and got some entry level jobs at varied companies that were involved with the film industry. Nothing too exciting, as I mostly drove around the highways of LA as a PA (production assistant) and cursed at the congestion of the traffic.
Like so many people in LA, I was also writing a screenplay on the side. I knew my idea was terrific, and if I could just finish my screenplay and get it into the hands of the right person, viola, everything would fall into place.
Of course it didn’t happen that way. After a year of constantly driving my car’s engine died, I lost my job, went broke and left LA for the mountains of Lake Tahoe to become a ski-bum and reevaluate my life mission. When I wasn’t skiing I worked as a snowmaker in the winter and a house painter in the summer. On the side I managed to finish that screenplay but trying to find an agent from Tahoe wasn’t easy, especially before the internet, and the agent I ended up signing with probably had little to no real connections.
Years passed. Nothing happened. I got very good at skiing and painting houses, but my story just existed in some pages on my shelf and in my head.
More years passed. By 2001, some voice from within started screaming, hey, you’ve still got to write this story and get the movie made! Can’t waste your life forever with these other things. I knew it was correct but didn’t know what to do about it. Fortunately, I’d read a few books that had great story lines but were terribly written. The crazy thing was that they were best-sellers. It made me think I could do it too.
So sometime in 2001 I began writing my novel. I worked off and on, sometimes being diligent and sometimes not. It took several years but I did it. I wrote a full length novel and people really liked it. Originally it was called The Big Bang: Notes from Looking Within. Not wanting to go through the hassle of agents and publishers, I self-published it POD style in Sept. 2005. I also began writing the sequel, Jim’s Life.
Looking back on the past 4 years, I basically did two things for my writing career. I wrote my second novel, and I marketed the first one in all the worst ways possible. I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on things that sounded good but just didn’t work.
Recently, after finishing the sequel, I realized there is no way in hell I am going to market my books anymore with expensive ideas when there’s no guarantee they’ll work. I made a firm decision a few months back. This is what I decided;
I will only market my books in ways that are free or extremely cheap!
Guess what? The free stuff works just as well, if not better, than the expensive stuff. Who knew?
The following days/weeks I’ll be posting tips and links to all the free ways/things/methods/services/you name it that will help new authors get their ebooks made without it costing them anything more than their time.
Comments from others can really help as this blog and book are just under construction, so I welcome helpful words from others.