Last night was it. Last night I wasn’t going to take it anymore. Last night Book Rooster told me A Clear and Feathered didn’t have enough appeal to get ten reviews so I’m getting my money back(waiting to hear on Barbarian Girl). What the fuck? That’s why I paid them in the first place, because A Clear and Feather Danger didn’t have built in appeal. But Bookrooster was playing nice, they didn’t shove it down ten members of their community’s throats and say “REVIEW IT OR YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANY MORE BOOKS!”
Then I went on Twitter and said in bold caps and curses “Why are you all following me(all 7971 of you) if you won’t buy my books?” That’s didn’t get the reaction at first, but what I said next did caused a little firestorm: If you don’t have any interest in buying my books, unfollow me, I have no interest in you. P.S. I got your attention didn’t I? 😉
That did it, I got scores of tweets going “You’re the rudest author I’ve ever met.” “You don’t appreciate other people” And I hemorrhaged 75 to 100+ followers. And I didn’t care on single bit. Why? That whole stunt sold four books, putting me(as of this writing) at 25 kindle books sold over 22 days(not counting a book I gifted which I’ll get to in a moment), putting me well ahead of my very modest goal of 30 books over 30 days.
And that is the only metric I live buy, the bottom line; not how many followers you have, or facebook friends or customer reviews or likes on amazon or guest blog posts you have. What I’ve found is they don’t sell me one single book. What has sold my books is doing the hard sell, going on twitter, getting on my soapbox, and going: “You like fantasy? You like cyberpunk? Are you tired of the same old tired slop? Then buy A Clear and Feathered Danger. Come on people, click that link, click buy it now what are you waiting for?” And if that doesn’t work, I get even pushier. It works. While it maybe only one or two sold at a time, its a start.
But what I’m doing is considered taboo in the book industry. Authors aren’t supposed to be pitchmen, we’re supposed to be friends. We have to engage and connect with our readers. We’re not supposed to be pushy. We’re supposed to be nice to people, befriend them, and then hopefully, when do we post a promo, they’ll click and buy our books.
The reason is people are lazy. I know I am. We won’t buy something unless we’re pushed into doing it. See that product on the shelf? We won’t touch it unless someone comes along and pitches it to us, giving us the reasons and keep on giving the reasons until we buy. And if we won’t buy, they’ll move on until find they someone that will, or quit if nobody ultimatly does.
But somehow I’m the villain in all this. I’m the asshole. Yet what I’m doing is simply selling my books how the rest of the world sells their products. Would you condemn a real estate agent for refusing to continue to show homes to people who won’t commit on a house(as my own agent did)? No. So why should I be condemned for refusing to have anything to do with people who won’t ever purchase my books? I shouldn’t.
Authors, its time to wake up and release the way we’ve been conditioned to sell books is retarded. We’re supposed to sell books by doing everything but sell books. We’ve been conditioned to go “Hi, how are you? It’s so nice to meet you, let’s connect up and chat. P.s. here’s my book, check it out 🙂 🙂 :)” Quick poll, how often does that work? I’m betting the answer for most is none. Because even when I connect, I have to bug people to buy. I have to bug people to even read my free stories. I used to complain about this, but then I noticed it worked, and so I embraced it, and viola, finally I’m beginning to sell books.
One woman said to me, “So you’re sacrificing 20+ potential sales for 5+ immediate ones. Good going!” What she didn’t understand, and I do, is that there were never 20+ potential sales, there were 0. The people unfollowing would never buy. No amount of connecting would never result in a sale. I had over seven times the followers she did, so this is a dynamic you only true see you get a ton of followers. When you have very few followers, your followers tend to be the ones that care. But as you gain followers you stop getting people following you simply because they care about what you have to say. You get followers who follow due to your following size and nothing more, spambots, online marketers, #teamfollowback ect
I ended up blocking that woman, but I don’t miss her, I didn’t know who she was until she yelled at me. And guess what, I’ll do just fine without her. It’s a process I call sifting. I sift through my followers, getting the ones who don’t care and won’t buy to unfollow, therefore leaving just ones that will buy. And I engage those who will by on a level few authors seem to. Consider these three points:
A) I’m letting my readers choose what side stories are going in the Side Story Anthology. No other author would let their work be shaped by will of the people. I am. Aside from 36 Hours in Gruck(which is half a story), I have the 4 other short stories I’d put in already picked out. But what my personal favorites may not what others enjoy the most. Hence the poll. K23 is still my world and I’m still the final arbiter of what goes in, but giving others input doesn’t hurt from time to time.
B) I gifted a book to a woman out of the blue for her birthday because I felt like it. She’s not only liking the book, she said she’s going to buy the others. Mission accomplished. Authors give books away all the time, but they have to promo the give away, entice people to get free stuff. I could always make A Clear and Feathered Danger free but not in the near term. Instead, every once in a while, unannounced and unexpected, I’ll gift a book. It makes the reader feel good, and if they like, they’ll buy the sequels. This is the only area where being nice really works, but only if you have a book worth reading, because remember that horrible video game you got last Christmas…
C) With 7900+ followers, there has to be a way to be seperate the wheat from the chaff on twitter. Therefore, I have a list, a list of those people who interact with me on a regular basis. These people are the people I soft sell, these people are the ones I befriend and chat with. But they have to take initiative, they have to show interest. They’ll get rewarded for doing so. I’m being an equal here, not being a doormat, but that’s only if I get something in return(and for a few feeds on my list, its not book sales).
So in conclusion, Its a balancing act, I can’t solely pitch, nor can I solely soft-sell, but my methodology is slowing beginning to get me noticed. I’m impressing people with my methods because I’m an indie who is beginning to move books by trying something different, just like my work is something different.
And I’d love it if more people copied me. It would make twitter a far more interesting place and I’d buy more books if authors gave me a reason to. Because right now, hardly anyone is, and that’s a shame.
Addendum 11/27/11: I meet my 30 book goal on the 23rd. Now up to 34 books sold! So this does work.