Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Nine: Would I Self-Publish Again?

That’s a good question.

I’m currently writing my next novel, The Orphans of the Creek, and undecided on what to do. Of course, if I were to self-publish again, iUniverse would be the frontrunner for my business. Yet with what I’ve learned about writing, publishing, networking, and marketing through my experience with Raincloud, I would first try another shot with the traditional publishers.

There are only two major things that could keep me from self-publishing again. The first, of course, is the cash outlay. The second is the “judgement by association” people make of your self-published book. I’ve read some self-published work that should never have been put to paper. On the other hand, there are also lots of great self-published books. Unfortunately in some peoples’ minds the good books get lumped in with the sub-standard, creating a prejudice that a talented writer with the brevity to do things himself must work hard to overcome.

Attitudes are changing though, just as the publishing business itself is. Time will tell if the changes are for the better.

In short, my preference would be to go with a traditonal publisher, if for no other reason than to scale that wall. But if I have to self-publish again to get my voice heard, then so be it.

This week’s poll question:

Me and Raincloud

Richard S. Todd is the author of the critically-praised Raincloud: A Novel and gives talks on self-publishing. He spends his time blogging and writing his next novel, The Orphans of the Creek. Learn more at his website: www.richard-todd.com.

Coming Soon: Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Ten: The Wrap-Up

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Raincloud – June Live Events

With the summer reading season upon us I thought I’d post a couple of events in which I’ll be participating. If you’re in the Toronto, Canada area, be sure to come out and say hi!

Strong Words 4th Anniversary Reading:  Monday, June 1st, 2009, 7PM (my reading time TBD)
The Gladstone Melody Bar, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto
Admission: “Pay What You Can” or donation of new and used books in good condition

Toronto Small Press Book Fair: Saturday, June 13th, 2009, 9AM – 5PM
Toronto Reference, Library, 789 Yonge St. (north of Bloor), Toronto

I’ll be signing and selling copies of Raincloud at both events. Hope to see you there!

RT

This weeks Poll Question:

Me and Raincloud

Richard S. Todd is the author of the critically-praised Raincloud: A Novel and gives talks on self-publishing. He spends his time blogging and writing his next novel, The Orphans of the Creek. Learn more at his website: www.richard-todd.com.

Coming Soon: Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Nine: Would I Self-Publish Again?

Don’t miss another installment. Get a Free Subscription by clicking on the Subscribe widget in the sidebar.

Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Eight: Social Media: The Evolution of Marketing

No big surprise here. Social media is huge now, and as more and more people discover its power the more information is freely exchanged. That’s great because you’re now exposed to a huge audience; the only downside is that your voice can get lost in the crowd.

iUniverse has many high-priced marketing products, ranging from ads in the New York Times to custom email broadcasts. Both of these can raise people’s awareness of your book, but with the current royalty structure it’s not very likely you’ll make your money back. Even advertising in newspapers yourself can raise exposure but will you sell enough books to justify the cost?

Thus the biggest advantage of social media marketing: it’s free.

With the wealth of information already available online I won’t go too deeply into what you can do but will instead introduce you to my setup. Many of my own sites are in various stages of development but you’ll get the idea.

This blog is the centre of everything and one of the main sources of traffic being driven to my website.  To maximize readership I’ve registered this blog on such blog search engines such as Condron.usTechnorati, Networked Blogs(which is connected to Facebook) and MyBlogLog, and it is also an important part of my Amazon profile. Don’t forget about your Canadian audience; create a Chapters-Indigo profile to serve those readers. You can also set up Blog Tours, where you appear on many different blogs over a span of days. I am planning one for this summer. It’ll be like my book tour last fall…but from home!

Of course, there is my Facebook Group and my Twitter profile. Facebook is the biggest social media site out there, so networking there is a must. Twitter is something I haven’t mastered yet, but I keep hearing about how powerful it can really be to get your message to the masses and drive web surfers to your blog.

Check out Authors on the Net. Their site features loads of information on setting up social media campaigns. It’s geared for writers but it looks like anyone can use the tips contained within.

It’s a good amount of work to set up an online campaign but once it’s done maintenance is low so you can concentrate on your live appearances or working on your next writing project.

Tip of the Week: Be bold. Start blog conversations on other blogs that are irresistible to reply to. The more people you meet, the greater the  potential of people hitting your blog. It really is a numbers game where the law of averages can really work for or against you.

The jury is still out on whether or not social media campaigns result in actual sales. Stick to it. You may gain a significant following that could reap rewards for your next book. And speaking of next books (mine in particular), I’ll discuss my thoughts on self-publishing The Orphans of the Creek in my next post.

Me and Raincloud

Richard S. Todd is the author of the critically-praised Raincloud: A Novel and gives talks on self-publishing. He spends his time blogging and writing his next novel, The Orphans of the Creek. Learn more at his website: www.richard-todd.com.

Coming Soon: Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Nine: Would I Self-Publish Again?

Don’t miss another installment. Get a Free Subscription by clicking on the Subscribe widget in the sidebar.

Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Seven: Author, Sell Thyself!

Author, sell thyself!

Truer words were never spoken. Writing is a lonely business, not just because you spent countless hours creating and revising your masterpiece, but the marketing and promoting needed to get the word out there takes up a lot of time and energy. You can’t play hermit anymore, because unless you plan on selling only to family and friends or have representation of some sort, no one is going to it for you.

First, get your book into stores. Fortunately iUniverse sets their authors up with online merchants such as Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds of others. I even found Raincloud available on online bookstores in Sweden, Germany, and India!

Getting into brick-and-mortar stores may prove a little more challenging. If you can’t convince the store owner to buy a few copies of your book, they will usually take it on consignment. Don’t neglect the independent stores; they usually take smaller cuts than the major players and allow you stand out more than in the big boxes, especially if you live in a smaller market.

Next you need to market your most important asset: yourself! Live appearances are a very powerful way to do this, and setting them up is quite a simple process involving research, emailing or telephoning, and following up. Because “sell thyself” really means “sell yourself”as a person…long before you sell your book.

As you research, you’ll find no shortage of places to have book signings. Book festivals, writing groups, retail stores, coffee houses, and so on. The best part about retail is that they may order multiple copies of your book from the publisher. Although your cut will be much smaller than with a consignment arrangement, I was very pleased to see stacks of Raincloud perched upon a table at my first in-store!

Book festivals can be quite effective too. The first such event to cross my path was the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, which I had read about on Facebook. One email, a postage stamp and $15 later, I was booked in. The event was great, very casual and not too competitive.  I had a nice looking booth thanks to the iUniverse posters included with my publishing package. And I sold a good amount of books too, at least for someone just finding his footing.

Another event, Toronto’s Word on the Street, was a much bigger festival held in the fall. As a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, I was able to set up a display at their table. I garnered more readers and had a great time.

The wheels really started churning when I dreamed up the idea of a Fall Book Tour. Picking up the phone I called Chapters/Indigo stores around the GTA, pitching my idea to hold in-store book signings. Some didn’t have the facilities to host an event and others catered only to big name authors. But many satellite stores were quite enthusiastic and excited to have me come in and talk to their customers.

Promotion was a snap. Never mind buying expensive ad space; I created Press Releases to send to local newspaper outlets and copy for posters that the stores could display, both great cost-effective ways to generate a buzz. I also promoted heavily on my Facebook Group as well as at my website

I made seven appearances in six stores, and I have to say that at each stop the Chapters/Indigo staff were all friendly and accommodating, sometimes bringing customers to my table or buying me a beverage from Starbucks. The customers themselves were a pleasure to talk to as well (there were a few exceptions of course, but that’s always the case when dealing with the public) and really showed me respect and support. And as far as sales went, I can tell you that the profits were well worth the time and gas money to travel to the stores and back.

This year I’m setting up a Raincloud Reading Series, where I read passages of Raincloud to local writing groups and sell books. I’ll also be at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair and Word on the Street again, as well as hitting any bookstores I may have missed the first time around. And I’ll do it all over again with my second novel, The Orphans of the Creek.

Just think of how incredible it would be for someone to love your first book so much they picked up your second. That, my friends, would be your first loyal reader.

Tip of the Week: Stick to it. Retailers are busy but if you are organized and well spoken, they’ll listen to you. I learned to be persistent without being annyoying and in the end they welcomed me. They’ll welcome you too.

Okay, you’re reading my blog. I obviously don’t have to tell you about how powerful they can be, providing they are comprised of effective, relevant content. Social Media is fast becoming a powerful way for authors to market their books. Check out the write-up a professional marketer did for me on her blog.  We’ll discuss web stuff in my next installment.

www.richard-todd.com

Coming Soon: Adventures in Self-Publishing Part Eight: Social Media: The Evolution of Marketing

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A Peek at “The Orphans of the Creek”

Hi everyone.
While I’m completing Part Seven of my “Adventures in Self-Publishing” blog series, I thought I would share with you the first-draft prologue of my upcoming novel The Orphans of the Creek. Let me know what you think!

The Orphans of the Creek: Prologue

Dave’s car headlights cut through the fog as I speed up Highway 400. His car isn’t as fast as mine, never was, but at least it’s still in one piece and can take me somewhere. What can you do when your options are so few?

My eyes dart from the windshield, to the speedometer, to the rear-view mirror. Out front the yellow lines come at me like neon darts and fade away under the Cavalier’s groaning engine. The traffic is lighter than I expected for which I am grateful. By now the cops in Scanlon Creek have probably blocked the entrance into town. They won’t be able handle this sort of mess; they’ll call every emergency vehicle from every town they can find, and they’ll all come screaming like some life-saving valkyries. What a goddamn mess. Those cookie-cutters will never be the same.

I keep the car humming between the limit and about seven kilometres over. Not enough to be caught in any speed traps but enough to keep me alert. After all, this is Dave’s car and I didn’t have time to clean it. God knows what he’s got stashed that a cop would be overjoyed to find. But that wouldn’t be the worst thing. I don’t think I could take the sight of the flashing lights in the rear-view mirror right now. That would just about drive me mad with the needles.

I reach beside me for Juniper’s hand but of course it’s not there.

www.richard.todd.com