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Monday, September 24, 2012

Where Are The Readers?

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I come before you this week a bit perplexed. I didn't scramble to get my debut vampire novel listed on Amazon this summer - after losing my small publisher - with the thought that once it was accomplished that I could sit back, sip Brandy and puff cigars as I awaited money to come flooding in. For the record, I don’t smoke. Nor did I start writing books as some get rich quick scheme. However, I had hoped that I would sell some books…

I have been on the social networks now since early 2010. I started in Blogger and then created a Facebook page. From there I soon joined Goodreads, Twitter and then Google Plus, with several other sites and groups spread amongst them. I have a good number of followers on every site which is very nice, but what does that really tell me? My hope is this is the calm before the storm. After all, I currently only list one book on Amazon and am exclusive with them. You might suggest that I discontinue KDP select and get back on all of those other outlets, but I was there before for a couple of years and it wasn’t "all that" either. Again, I only had the one book…

Why I have had but one book is a long story. I will be rectifying this in the coming weeks when I release Dance on Fire: Flash Point. When that has been completed in both ebook and paperback, I will immediately turn my attention toward a paranormal romance novel that I began writing this past spring. My aim is to have three books listed on Amazon by next spring. But what then? Will they sell?

I have spent a lot of time working to increase my reach and my numbers; however, I have come to realize as many of you have as well that all we are doing is networking with other writers. I have spent the time in those Facebook groups where we like each other’s pages, etc., but to what end? Those writers are just like me with limited time and money to be buying the works of other writers, and spending most of their non-writing time trying to extend their reach.

I have enjoyed my time reaching out to other writers and watching my numbers climb, but I am no longer going to spend chunks of my week or weekend just accruing more numbers or followers who really aren’t my fans or even friends for that matter. Do you know what I mean? Does that make me sound callous? I want to help other writers and make friends - and will continue to nurture any and all relationships that I establish along the way - but if all we're doing is knocking on doors and saying hello to people that we'll never see again, then no thank you.

I love dropping in periodically on blog posts, catching up on Facebook feeds, and having conversations on Twitter. That won’t change. I adore the friendships that I have in this community of writers and want to not only continue to nurture those, but discover new ones. However, I need to spend time reaching out to the readers. Otherwise all of this time that I have spent married to my trusty laptop and away from my family will have been for naught.

So, I ask you, have you managed to find the readers? Where are they? Is my problem that I am marketing to the Horror Community while the big market is the Paranormal Community? Those of you who have multiple books listed, did you find it slow going until you released more books? I have tried very hard not to let myself become negative in this thing, but I would be lying to you now if I didn’t say that I have already wondered whether I might need to prepare myself for shutting this down at some point next year.

I did not pen this post this week because I wanted to hold a pity-party or because I knew a post like this one might garner multiple comments from encouraging writers. Do I need some encouragement? Absolutely. I really think that things are going to improve this fall once I get that second book out and begin to promote it both in the shops and on the web. But what if it doesn’t? I really hope it doesn’t come to that eventuality.
So, I ask again: Where are the readers? I have done interviews and been profiled and reviewed. My novel is getting very good reviews, and has been for two years, but very few seem to know it exists. What have you guys found to work? I appreciate any and all advice. Thanks for your time and assistance. 

We’ll talk soon.


  1. For me, my sales increased when I had two books up and one permanently free. Yes, in some peoples eyes those are lost sales, but in my eyes they are gained sales as it sells my second book (and third once I release it in December). I think the absolute hardest thing to accept as a writer (once you've made the decision to self-publish) is that you MUST continue to write what YOU love. The readers may or may not follow, but at the very least you will love your work. As hard as it is to acknowledge, many a good writer didn't become popular till long after they published... Good luck my friend :)

  2. Hey, Jimmy. I too have asked this very same question: Where's all the readers. I love my writing buds (you among them), but like you I don't have the resorces to buy everyone's book (plus I don't buy on line--it's a rule of our house), so I can merely cheer other writers on, and help when I can.

    Where are the writers? I think I need to write a poem...
    But I've been pinning up both my business cards and I've made my own bookmarks and have pinned those up wherever there's aplace to do this. I'm thinking of placing ads in newspapers but haven't got the $ to do so at this time.

    And yes. Once you get the second book out, people discover it--maybe you have a launch and a giveaway--and people will get this free one and want to buy the first one. That's what usually happens.

    Also, if you can, write short stories and sell on Amazon for .99. I've just put up my second book over the weekend. My first one has been selling moderately. I don't expect to see a check for a while, which is why I'm going to put up more of these and a novellette and also put out my 1st book as an ebook (re-introduce it).

    Readers are out there, they just need to discover us. How? When you don't have the resoruces it's difficult. But it is a gradual climb for us Indies.

    Good luck, Jimmy!

  3. This is why I blog about many different things and not just writing. I also visit forums and groups that are interest-focused.

    For example, you'd want to mingle with forums that like to talk about all things vampire and spooky. Or groups about your location. Choose any one item in your book and find groups that talk about it.

    This isn't where you push your book, but rather where you interact on the subject. Many times I've picked up new readers simply because they saw my comment somewhere and followed me back to my blog.

    Perhaps the most important thing though is having a back list. When I started, the prevailing wisdom said you needed seven books to become relatively known. Nowadays, perhaps thanks to self-publishing, the average author needs ten books to his name.

    Keep writing, buddy. There's still a long road ahead.

  4. Don't give up, Jimmy! Never, ever give in to that evil voice that whispers defeat. It's a long and arduous uphill climb for so many writers, but that is why we need to cling to that passion and keep striving for what we believe in.
    I've always heard that the real money and sales don't come in until you start building a backlist. The more stuff you have out there, the better things will be. I've often read that this process can take up to 4 years after your first book. You're doing all you can to help this along. Just give it time and have that all so important faith in yourself, and faith in your book.
    Just a quick question here, but have you considered maybe giving your book a fresh new cover to go with it's fresh new start? It's often our first impression and in so many cases, the only one we are going to get. (Not that DOF cover is bad! But maybe something new and revitalized is in order)
    Keep your chin up, my friend. Wishing you all the best.

  5. First, I just read that traditionally June through September is the worst time for book sales, so take heart.

    I, too, came to the conclusion that a large number of followers does not translate to a large number of sales and backed off on most social media.

    I agree with Maria that you need to put your energy in forums and groups where your "target readers" hang out. Relate to them as a person first, author second. I've discovered many new readers by playing games on Facebook where you have to add "neighbors".

    Also, another writer friend and I have a new blog in the works, one on natural living, nothing about writing. Women will be our target readers for this blog -- and our books. So we hope to gain some new readers through that association.

    As you know, I'll be publishing my second novel soon, so I hope that will put me back on the radar.

    Good luck to both of us.

  6. *a huge pile of books quivers in the middle of the floor. First one hand, then another reaches out of the pile, and finally a head pokes out*

    Oh, hi there - well, if other readers are like me, we're buried in our piles of books, only occasionally poking our heads out to see that the world is the same as it ever was, and then we go back to reading... :-)

    You can find a lot of us on places like Goodreads (if you are brave and careful), Shelfari, and even Librarything with their ridiculous "only 200 books in a free membership" shelving system *ptoi ptoi* I spit on Librarything! Some of us even blog - I have a lot of readers that follow my blog, over at Now is Gone.

    Of the authors I work with, the ones that are doing the best are the ones with more books out there. People feel reassured when they see multiple books by an author: "Well, look at all those books, he/she must be okay!" and feel more confident buying your books.

    There is starting to be a backlash against Amazon and it's exclusivity. More people are going to other places to buy their ebooks.

    I dunno if any of that really helps, but ... *shrug*

    *sinks back into the pile of books and is gone*

  7. I agree with Adriana about a new cover, and I know it's something to you I've said before. You should go and look at books in the same genre as DoF and get an idea for what is selling and what looks commercial.
    I also agree that back list is hugely important. Not many authors make huge sales from only one novel. Write the short stories and increase your virtual shelf space. Contact some of the great ebook websites that are out there and try to get featured. Run a sale for 48 hrs! There are plenty of opportunities, you just need to be proactive (though I know it's time consuming and you already work a ridiculous number of hours). My point is that you have options so don't give up - don't ever give up. You have the talent. If you want to email me, you know where I am!

  8. My experience mirrors what pretty much everyone else is saying... I started to gain traction in my sales when I released my second novel in the same series. (I also had a couple of novelettes in the same series at the time.) Now my third novel has come out, and all of the titles in the series are selling at the same rate as the new one. I've also made Book 1 in my series free, which I think has helped.

    Other stuff that's worked for me:

    Setting up a regular newsletter to send updates to my readers and coming up with cool stuff to share with them (I mention my newsletter at the end of each of my ebooks with a link to subscribe.)

    Hosting Goodreads Giveaways (This helps to get the word out to people who love to read, and gets them to add your book to their to-read list, or even review/rate it.)

    In my opinion, the best thing you can do is keep writing. Successful authors are usually prolific ones. I spend just enough time on social networking to get by, and the majority of my time working on writing projects, or connecting with readers through my newsletter, giveaways, etc.

    Hope this helps... Good luck! :)

  9. I've been buying books from my writer friends - lots of freebies I might add - but I rarely have time anymore to read. And there are so many bloggers with books to sell.

    I've been writing short stories, had a few published, but I'm wondering where readers are too. I think authors may need to do the traditional thing and actually attend meet-n-greets and other stuff off-line. Scary thought that :(

    Anyway, maybe I better check into the shelfari thing, and get better at showing up on Goodreads. Ya know, just in case I ever get an actual book published :)

    You're probably doing all the right things James. Keep up the good writing and the readers will find you. It just takes time. And possibly a blog tour. Think about it for the upcoming novel.


  10. I don't know how any of this works. I haven't even checked how many of my books have sold. I am kind of assuming that my mom has bought all of the ones that have. But you sound discouraged, and I don't like to hear you discouraged. If I figure anything out, I will let you know.

  11. Hey, Jimmy. Diana told me she was experiencing a similar problem and heard, just as Linda did, that sales pick back up in the winter time.

    I consider myself first a reader, then a writer. I, for the record, purchased your book on Amazon before you offered it for free. I try to get the free downloads or at least the cheaper rates when offered because I can't afford to get all my writing friends books, nor have the time to read all of them if I want to get my own work finished.

    There are online book review places that help get the word out or local book clubs you can offer your book to in order to gain more interest. I notice some authors have sent me invitations to book signings in my area where they are promoting their books. There are ways of reaching out to the readers, but it does take more time and money with some traditional methods and just finding the right resources online for the less costly methods.

    I hope you find the right media to promote your book, Jimmy.

    As always, your friend,

  12. Hi,James. I agree with what's been said. I, too, have noticed authors who succeed are those with multiple books for sale. Which means you have to keep on writing! I know you can do it, my friend. :) It may be uphill for now, I can testify to that myself, but the important thing is to keep thinking positive. :)

  13. Aloha Jimmy,

    Your thoughts (and fears) scare the crap out of me, and I'm still a few months from finishing WIP #1.

    I worry about all the time spent away from family, too, but the only advice I can offer is what else can *you* do?

    For me, as a 43-year-old, writing is my dream career and I'm treating these last three years as an internship and paying my dues...

    Will it work out? I don't know, but I *have* to keep trying and slogging it out. You've already got a great head start, so don't quit now, pal... Think about Uncle Stevie (King) he didn't get off to a great start either...

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm following you (so don't roll your eyes :)

    Cheers :)

  14. Excellent advice here. I think series are terrific. One book helps to sell another.
    I turned my sequel into a series of three more novels, Jimmy.
    I agree with the advice given here. The sales will come. Marissa has some fantastic suggestions as do the other writers here.
    Social networks are good when used sparingly. I'd say to maintain a presence, and spend the rest of your time (the time you'd spend 'networking') on writing.
    You're an excellent writer. Your fiction is tops. The readers will find you. Just keep writing and get more work out there!
    One more thing, the more you write, the less time you spend worrying about sales!

  15. Hi James,

    A very honest post and one that echoes what many of us feel during these early years. At the moment, it's all about extending your reach. You are a great writer; your reviews speak for themselves. These are slow steps, but I'm sure as you develop your series sales will soar and the sky will be your limit. And when you are famous, I will be able to say - awww, he's so lovely, he used to stand on tippeetoes and wave at me across the pond! Keep going, my friend. Sometimes the road feels tough and steep, but it will prove fruitful in the end.
    All Best,

  16. I wish I had answers for you, but I have not taken the step of publishing, yet. I am sure I'll be asking the same questions some day, too.

  17. I don't know precisely what you're doing, but I know that the cover of your first book didn't grab my attention, which also detracted from the second.

    As for readers (and this is from my position as a never-been-published wannabe) I'd suggest you set up an authors page on facebook, conveniently drop business cards at every library and school, and keep writing. Put in every book blurbs to your other books, and preferably a link to them. Get other authors to put your book blurb in their books.

    A published author once told me that as part of her book launch she does a book bomb--contact everyone she knows and try to get them all to buy the book at exactly the same time, so her ranking gets pushed up on Amazon, if only for a few minutes. *Shrug* She said it works.

    In other words, get the word out. Can you tell I've been brainstorming?

    As far as getting more books out, I think it's more than just "he must be good," but a confidence in the reader that if they like this one there are others they can read after.

    Take this for what it's worth.



Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate you taking the time. I'll get back to you here or on one of the other social networks. It's not like we're not on all of them, right? ;) Also, if you're here to give me an award - bless you. However, your friendship and visits are more than enough. Thanks and blessings.