“It’s a marathon not a sprint.”
It’s one of those clichés that crop up in sport, and I’m pretty sure that I have used it both to describe an NFL season and writing a book.
In fact it turns out that it’s a pretty good description of not just writing a book, but getting one from draft through editing and design, and out into the market place. However, for an independent author, the process doesn’t stop once you have the agreement with the print on demand companies and digital outlets. No, because after all that comes selling the book.
It’s not a glamourous thing to do, and certainly no one has written films about writers contacting shops about stocking their book. However, that is where I found myself right now, settling down into the hard graft of prep and contacting. A process that is eerily similar to submitting books to agents, only this time it is a little less speculative and involves discussions of percentages and getting copies into the hands of people who make decisions.
The good is news is that where we have been successful in doing this, the book has sold. However, if I am to keep doing this then I need to expand the number of shops that are stocking the book, and magic up a lot more sales through the digital outlets.
I am working on developing a network of contacts to hopefully get the book out into more shops, but the disadvantage of being an independent is that I don’t have people doing this for me. So as we move into the second phase of selling the book I am looking for people’s help, namely you who are reading this.
I strongly believe that the best way to sell a book is through the people loving books and talking to each other.
So if you have read the book and enjoyed it, then recommend it to a friend. Lend your copy, get the word out. Also, if you are lucky enough to have a great local bookshop, talk to them about it or let me know so I can contact them about getting stocked.
On the digital side of things, and if you are so inclined, a good review would be very much appreciated. I’m not going to pretend that I understand the various rankings and algorithms that dominate online stores and review sites, but the bit that is important is that the more people who saying nice things, the better the chances that someone new finds the book.
I am in the home stretch of the opening draft of a sequel, and my experience with A Ghost Called Dog haw certainly wetted my appetite. I have multiple books in the ideas drawer ready to be written, but it is not enough for the book just to exist. I have to establish a solid enough business model to make this an ongoing concern. It is an old business adage that you have to speculate to accumulate, and I certainly don’t mind investing in this up to a point.
There has always been a tension in the creative arts between the art and the business. As an independent writer you have to confront this directly, trying to find a way to make the system work for you within your circumstances. For me, this means writing something that is artistically valid in of itself. The first stage of selling a book is to make the book as good as it can be.
However, once it exists then you have to start having conversations regarding price points and distribution, remembering that at the end of the day, there is a number of books that you have to sell to cover what you put in and beyond. There may be a day when I can get to a point where my books account for a part of my income, but for now I would be happy to make them self-sufficient. A literary ecosystem that is independent on my everyday life.
It’s quite a small dream in the grand scheme of things, but there is still a long way to go before I can make that a reality. So if you are so inclined, spread the word, get in touch about book stores, write a review, or lend it to a friend.
I would be profoundly grateful.