So, while I've been putting the finishing touches on Zamani, I've been considering marketing tactics and doing a lot of things *new* for me. Here are my thoughts on GoorReads, classes that promise to show you the secrets to selling more books, and general shady behavior.
One of the things that I decided to give a try this time around is better participation in GoodReads. I joined several groups dedicated to beta reading (seeking for readers and offering to read for others). I've done some beta reading for actual writer friends, so I thought it might be good to branch out. First, I picked a couple of projects that looked interesting to me. One person was asking for a reader for a YA novel that focuses on a trans character. Because the novel was also set in a non US setting and cultural issues were part of the plot, it looked interesting. I contacted the person on GR and gave them my web address, asking them to check out my credentials and email me if they thought we would be a good fit.
I did get some messages from two individuals who were looking for readers. Neither was really in my genre areas (those I write in or that I read) but both folks were earnest and the story pitches were intriguing, at least.
I gave pretty extensive feedback and then when one of them offered to read for me in return, I said sure.
Overall, I enjoyed the book by the person who was reading for me (although I felt it was a bit bloated and one of the characters came across as incredibly sexist and a bit like a male character who had just been turned into a lesbian for shock value). The other person told me that she didn't have a day job, so she really liked doing reading for other people.
In the end, though, I got back comments that all of my characters stink, that there were "errors on every page" and that this person got off their writing schedule because they devoted so much time to my book.
My book was roughly 1/2 the length of the one I read for this person. I do have a day job. And while I have done some editing on the manuscript since that person read it, there were not "errors on every page." In addition, I had a paid reader who gave feedback on an earlier draft (much earlier). That reader actually works for a publishing house. In addition, my regular betas read an early version and didn't find the *problems* this person did. Basically, the feedback was a long *I hate this genre and therefore your writing is bad.* I think the feedback was also geared at "I got a free read from you but I don't want to return the favor."
All she had to do was email me early on and say, "Hey, I am not feeling the MS so maybe I'm not your best option as a reader." It's not like I asked her to eat a dog turd on film (those of you who recognize Divine above will know what I'm talking about).
So, I was left at the end of that experiment feeling like I had just crapped over a bunch of pages and was probably insane because I thought it was ok. The first printed proof came in and I started leafing through it, though, and started finding my way back out of the slump. I started reading other indie novels again (I'm just about done with The Devil in Canaan Parish and will post a review of it soon). I started thinking about my goals in the books I've published in the series so far and my current project.
I'm not trying to write high art here. I'm writing genre fiction that at best will be entertaining. If people find the connections to Stoker's work intriguing and they go back and read (or reread) Dracula, great. My number one fan, Stacy, once told me that she thought the idea of writing a book and having one person read it and find it enjoyable was a wonderful one. I agree. And, so, I press on.
The problem, though, is I don't want to come off like this guy. The other thing I've been doing over the last year or so is listening to podcasts and even attending a webinar or two about book marketing. In a recent one, I did get some good ideas for writing fuller, more "sales-friendly" book blurbs, but I kept peeking behind the green curtain. The example of the writer who cleared $7K in a month? I couldn't find any proof the person even has a book out. Their author site is nonfunctional, and the FB page I found for them makes vague references to the book (not titled) and series (not named) and how they are using a pen name. The webinar host has books out, yes, but his fiction titles don't have a whole lot of reviews.