Take your time. Publish only your best stories. Keep going.
Introverts and the dreaded self-promotion
To some degree, the tortoise analogy applies to the fact that promoting oneself is so difficult. Difficult not only because of the constant din of self-promotion that makes up most of the internet — also because most writers are shy, nerdy, and otherwise socially awkward.
The internet has already been a tremendous boon to us because it removed the physical requirements of social interaction. But if you’re like me, you’re not any more talkative online than you are in real life. (Blogging does not count, stop snickering.)
At a convention panel about self-promotion that I recently attended, writer Allen Wold pointed at himself and said: “This is not me.” He trained himself, over many years, to wear a (metaphorical) mask when he’s at conventions. An alternate, more outgoing personality. This enabled him to talk to strangers — because he needed to, as a writer.
Take your time. Create a mask and learn to wear it. Mine is named “L. Blankenship.”
Cream rises to the top
Despite all the noise lately about paid reviews and gaming the Amazon rankings, I still believe that cream will rise to the top. All the data I’ve seen on advertising and promotions for self-publishers proves that word of mouth is your best strategy. It’s also tough to get because it requires you to write a story that people like. A story that they get excited about and recommend to their friends.
I don’t have a recipe for a good story, but I know it includes these ingredients: interesting characters, a compelling plot, realistic dialogue, interesting world-building, emotions, voice, heart, and luck.
Yeah, luck wasn’t in any of my how-to-write books, either. Focus on what you can control, which is everything else on the list. In the series of posts I wrote about self-publishing over at Unicorn Bell, I tried to tackle the dreaded question: am I ready? (The index of all those posts is here.) Ultimately, it’s a question you have to answer for yourself, but I hope that post helps.
Take the time to write and revise until your story gleams. And then publish only your best work.
Just keep writing… just keep writing…
There’s good evidence that having a backlist helps self-published writers sell. When readers find an author they like, they want to buy more from them — it helps to have more on hand to sell them. The promotion you do for each additional story will give a little boost to your backlist too. It also proves that you’re serious about this and you’re in it for the long haul.
As scary as self-publishing is, it’s also a very potent distraction as I am currently finding out. My book Disciple is now on sale in a few places, soon to be deployed to more places, and now I need to tortoise up inside my shell and just keep writing. Promotion is important, but it won’t work if I don’t have anything new to promote.
Keep going. I’ll see you on the road to success (since there’s no finish line, really.)