On Amazon, Promotions, and Other Self-Publishing Horrors

February 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm
filed under random novel-related blather

Hi! Some more of my infrequent and cynical thoughts on self-publishing:

The other day, I received an e-mail from some (as far as I know) random stranger, who’d read the preview of Mendacities and had purchased a paperback copy on Amazon. I’m always pleased to hear from random readers, happy or otherwise, and I’m of course happy when someone actually buys a copy of the book. I was trebly pleased that day, however, because that one purchase vaulted my Amazon sales rank from four million-something up to 266,000 or so.

Amazon rankings are a kind of meaningless statistic, I know. But it’s terribly depressing to languish not just outside the first million most popular books (though that’s terrible enough; I mean, think about it—a million books currently in print more popular than yours? Yikes…) but (well) outside the four million most popular titles. So, it’s nice to occasionally rank up among books by people that other people have actually heard of, if only for a day or two.

It also offers an interesting insight into Amazon and “the long tail”. Mendacities just missed—just!—being in the top 250,000 books on Amazon, however fleetingly… by selling copy number two in six months. Obviously, Amazon’s ranking is based on more than just raw sales numbers, but it still provides a startling insight into just how “long” the “long tail” really is.

Late last year, I ran a promotion on this site and Entropic Memes, wherein I gave away three paperback copies of Mendacities, for free. It was not the most astonishingly successful promotion ever (everyone who entered won), and while I made it clear from the outset that there was no expectation that people review it, comment on it, or even read it, I am just a bit bummed that I’ve heard back from none of the winners of the giveaway. Ah well, easy come, easy go.

In other news, I’ve written a deconstruction of amateur erotica (no, really) which I did not only to be amusing, but to sort of help promote Mendacities. Never mind that my novel has nothing whatsoever to do with erotica; I want to move some e-book copies of Mendacities, and thought that “connecting” with people who read online could be a good way of doing so. (There’s even a reading group guide. For a piece of erotica. Yes. Really.)

Self-promotion is one of the many, many, many skills I am not blessed in the slightest with.

Anyway, apparently a lot of people quite enjoy “The Nurse’s Dirty Secret”—to such an extent that in two weeks it’s been read by more people than, in all likelihood, Mendacities ever will be. Alas. A goodly number of people who read it rated it highly on Erotica Republic (.com)… which closed its doors nine days later. (See what I mean about being unencumbered with self-promotional skills?)

Erotica, as a promotional tool for self-published authors: Probably not a long-term success.

In case I didn’t mention it, I’m late to the game, but you can “follow” me on Twitter, where I post odd brief things that you’ll probably find interesting.

Oh,and lastly, I’m entering Mendacities in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest this year, and could use your help coming up with a promotional “pitch” for the book, as that, rather than the actual book itself, is what the first round of the contest is judged on, sigh.

I have absolutely no hopes of winning – I just hope to gain a little bit of exposure, and maybe a little boost to the self esteem, which has been lagging a bit as Mendacities otherwise flounders helpless in the Sea of Failure.

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