Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Sans Spam: But Think Of the Publicity!

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selfpromotionThis post is part of a project tentatively titled Sans Spam: Self Promotion For Authors. I'm releasing this book in sections on my blog, but when it's all finished I will offer the whole thing as a single eBook. Everyone who donates toward its production (use the coffee cups to the right, note that it's because of this effort) will get a free copy of this eBook. You can find all the posts here.

There could be a great big narrative setup for this post, but honestly, the political crap in Washington right now has lowered my patience for beating around the bush. So let's just get to it:

Increasing publicity without having something to sell after you have the public's attention is bloody stupid.


Arundel Publishing has Chasing Eden1 up for US$0.99 on Amazon. The other two books in the series - Beyond Eden and Treasure of Eden are priced at US$2.99. It's pretty straightforward - they want you to try Chasing Eden, and if you like it, buy the rest of the series. All three were released digitally within several weeks of each other.

I like this setup. It makes sense as an author, a publisher, and a consumer. As a consumer, I get to try new books out inexpensively - it's only a buck. Publishers get more exposure - "Hey, why not try the book for a buck?" - and the authors still get paid by getting loyal readers who buy the rest of the series.2 It's a loss leader.3

What continues to puzzle me are the folks who put their only novel up for a dollar - or insist that their books be given away free "to increase publicity". At the last con I attended, I had one author tell me that they didn't make a cent with the sales of their book - but they were selling a whole lot. I really wanted to smack them.

Look, the days of getting a national audience by just giving away content ended shortly after Cory Doctorow did it with Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's not - if you'll excuse the pun - novel to give away a novel. Instead of looking like a sophisticated (or idealistic) publisher/author, you look like a desperate used car salesperson. You look like someone who doesn't believe enough in their own work to demand a fair price.

When you price your books - digital or print - make sure that you are compensated fairly.4 Otherwise, get used to having to work that damn day job forever.


1 I converted this series, by the way.
2 Well, if they're decent writers.
3Amazon's whole business model was set up on being a loss leader for years until people were so accustomed to buying online that they could actually start making money. And it worked. Novels aren't like that... though maybe you could work serial fiction that way.
4 Crowdsourcing and donation models are valid, by the way. But at the same time, you have to make sure you're ready to pull the plug (or change funding models) if the donations don't flood in.

This post was part of Sans Spam: Self Promotion For Authors. I'm releasing this book in sections on my blog, but when it's all finished I will offer the whole thing as a single eBook. Everyone who donates toward its production (use the coffee cups to the right, note that it's because of this effort) will get a free copy of this eBook. You can find all the posts here.

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