To be honest, I started this blog because I want your money. That’s not the only reason, but it’s definitely in the mix.
As a writer, I want people (i.e., you) to read my books. I’ve worked hard writing them, I’m proud of them, and I want folks to read them and enjoy them. I think my books are worth something, though, so I (generally) don’t give them away for free, which means readers must part with some of their money.
Ergo, I want your money.
To increase the working probability of this scheme, I began this blog. The theory was that, the more people who read about my books, about me, the greater the probability that some of you will decide to take a chance and spend $5 on a book that took me a year to create.
$5…for a year’s work.
Some of you have taken a chance on my books, and that pleases me, not because I’ve got your money, but because you’ve got my book, but this blog, as a form of self-promotion, well, it’s a bit of a bust, and that salient fact was clear pretty early on in the process. It’s proved to be better than a Facebook page, better than Twitter, better than every other venue, but still, I’m not getting rich. I could do more–conventions, speaking engagements, mass-marketing emails, repeated BuyMyBook bombs on social media–but experience, observation, and written opinion from writers like Delilah Dawson over at whimsydark concur:
Self-promotion is a trap.
It’s a trap because it encourages magical thinking. It encourages us to believe that, if we only did this thing or that, in exactly the right way at exactly the right time, we could “break out” of the pack. We read the stories of authors selling tens of thousands of copies of their self-published book, and we think: I just need to do what that author is doing.
It’s a trap because it creates a time-intensive death-vortex of diminishing returns. You can spend hours and hours on promotional activities, but at a certain point, each hour spent provides smaller and smaller benefit until you become “That Guy” and it actually starts working against you. Social media are fickle, that way.
And it’s a trap because it feels like progress. In a business where, as I said, it can take a year’s work to go from Page One to hitting the shelves, the busy-work of self-promotion feels like you’re actually accomplishing something. You make a post, get a few “likes,” or see a tweet re-tweeted and it’s instant feedback. You get a new follower on Instagram or Tumblr and you think, “A new reader!” These are illusions, built of mist and dream-smoke. And we know it. We just don’t admit it to ourselves.
Ms. Dawson states it perfectly with her formula for a bestseller:
GREAT BOOK + HARD WORK + TIME + LUCK
At best, a full-time writer can only control three of those items. As a part-time (at best) writer, I can usually only control two of them.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do any self-promotion. I’m saying we need to be realistic about it, and weigh the time spent against the proven results. It’s a simple ROI calculation: is the time I’m spending on this doing anything for my books, or for me as a writer?
This blog, nearly three years old, now, long ago proved that it was not cost-effective as a way of separating you from your money. I’ve kept it up, though, because it has kept me writing during these difficult years of death and family turmoil. I’ve also learned a ton while writing it, and that has made me a better writer, overall.
So don’t worry. Your wallet is safe.
Of course, if you’re interested, for under $25 you can get the entire Fallen Cloud Saga (five volumes!) for your Kindle.