More thoughts on marketing

So, between Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, there's quite a bit of advice on how to market.

1. They both rely a lot on book bloggers. This is another way to get reviews: You give copies of your book to people who post unpaid reviews on their blogs. They also often post the reviews on Amazon or B& as well, which would be helpful.

The downside? I've read that it's considered a little crass to just jump in and say, "Wanna review my book?" Instead you're supposed to insinuate yourself into the community, commenting on this and that, and then pop the question. Considering how hesitant I was to do that to people I actually know, I don't think I'd be comfortable with that. I think what I'll do is search around until I find someone who seems to enjoy adventure sci-fi, and then just ask in an up-front, I-think-you'll-enjoy-this-book sort of way, not so much in a let's-pretend-I'm-your-friend sort of way.

(I should note that I am a little ambivalent about marketing. Both Hocking and Konrath earn a living from their novels; I don't. That said, I do want to give my book a good shot at finding an audience just on general principle. I don't care about becoming a best-seller or anything, but let's face it, if I didn't care about readers at all, I would just be journaling. And I would be a much crappier writer.)

2. Konrath likes to experiment with pricing. Both Hocking and Konrath think it's important to keep e-book prices low--I tend to agree, because all the e-reader owners I know are like, I just spent $100 on this thing, I'm not going to spend $15 apiece on the books for it! Also, given the royalty structure if you self-publish, you're making as much money off a $3 e-book as you would off a $15-$20 hard copy, so it just seems greedy to make the e-book really expensive.

But how low to go? You can go down to 99 cents, which Konrath is playing with. It's a big step because on Amazon, you get a 70% royalty if it's $2.99, but only a 35% royalty below that, so you have to sell a lot more to compensate for the loss in revenue. I think that's an experiment that might be well worth doing when Trust comes out: Drop the price of the first book in the series to 99 cents and use that as a hook into the rest.

3. Both think the cover is super-important! Yeah, again with the cover. I feel like at this point, my cover is not so bad graphically, but of course the actual cover illustration is worthy of Museum of Bad Art. And by shrinking the illustration down to hide the fact that I draw like a six-year-old with a neuromuscular disorder, the cover winds up looking less like its genre peers.

So I think I am going to hire an artist eventually. Not right now, because that's not going to be cheap, and also it might be good to have the same person do both Trang and Trust so that they look consistent. Also, you could argue that for every hot e-book with a really good cover, there's a hot e-book with a really amateurish cover, so maybe the cover doesn't matter. But maybe it does, and it would just be less embarrassing to have a good cover (although if my cover illustration actually gets inducted into MOBA, I'll be very happy indeed). Since a lot of self-published writers credit their artists, I'm reasonably confident I can find someone with an appropriate style, and I have a general notion at this point of what such an artist might charge.

4. Konrath thinks the book description is super-important. And his examples are really inspiring. One thing it didn't even occur to me to do was to have an "about the author" section in the description. It feels a little weird to me to trot out qualifications when talking about a freaking science fiction book, but on the other hand I think the awards and whatnot will help separate me from the people who don't take writing seriously.

Plus, revising the book description is free. So that's an easy one--I'll do that this week.