The self-publishing conundrum

I released Bone Breakers with a bit of fanfare at the beginning of this week and hoped that it would do well in terms of first week sales (maybe a small progression on The Hunters, definitely a progression on The Greatest Show), something to show that I’m moving forward as a writer, collecting a few more new readers along the way. It has a decent cover, is well laid-out as an e-book, has been thoroughly vetted and edited, and I’d like to think it has been well planned and written. All the things the e-book experts tell us are key to an initial burst of sales.

So how did it do in the first week?

Well… the fanfare mostly fell on deaf ears. It was a definite regression on sales of The Hunters and a mild regression over The Greatest Show. A huge disappointment, in so many words.

I realise that I’ve mostly been preaching at the converted, and other writers, and it’s the worst selling tactic in the world – awful, truly awful – but I don’t really know what else to do. The converted are going to buy anyway, some writers might buy, but most probably won’t, because other writers are more concerned at plugging their own work (which is as it should be). But the constant Facebook posts, tweets, Kboard posts, Amazon DOA (sorry MOA) posts, all whining that you should Buy My Book™, have been a barrage over the last week. I despise the sound of my own voice, so you can rest assured that come this Monday there won’t be any more of that malarkey.

Nor much more of my work, as it happens.

I’m going to finish The Glasgow Grin, because it ties up the story started in The Hunters and I feel I owe my regular readers an end to that particular tale, and I’m also going to finish A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Billingham Forum, because it’s more or less done, but after that I’m taking a long break from self-publishing.

I have several more Stanton tales, in various stages of progress, but they’re not going to receive any attention for a while. After The Glasgow Grin is released I’m going to write something aimed at snagging an agent, something aimed at a wider audience, a detective thriller idea I’ve had, or maybe another thriller idea that has been gestating for a while, a crime thriller set in Amsterdam, because I want to know if my writing chops are good enough to catch an agent’s eye.

The other thing is that I’ve grown to despise the marketing and selling process that comes with self-publishing. Over the last eight months or so (since The Greatest Show), I’ve found it more and more difficult to do. The writing I love; selling, er, not so much…

Some writers are brilliant at playing the game – they’re prolific, they have a great online presence, go on blog tours, they engage readers and other writers, they do things in an entertaining manner, and with great humour – and they rack up decent sales, free downloads in the thousands, and a fair portion of reviews as a result.

And fair play to them. Sooner or later it’s those men and women who get the luck, who break out, who get the success that they most certainly deserve, because most of them write well, too.

I’m not one of these people. So be it.

Every time I check my sales figures I feel a little more dejected. Every time I feel I have to say please buy my book on Twitter or Facebook or Reddit I get the feeling that I sound more and more desperate (nobody respects a beggar). The whole process of trying to force books on people who don’t want them makes me tired and angry and depressed. And why do something that does that kind of damage? Life is hard enough without inflicting extra misery upon myself. I can really do without it.

So, fuck it, I’m not doing it for a while, at least until I’ve written either this detective thriller or the crime novel set in Amsterdam, which at the speed I write will be years, not months.

The next two Stanton’s will get a cursory release. I’ll let you know when, I’ll let you know how much, but that’s about all you’re getting from me. I’m not going to force my wares on the public, because it just doesn’t work (at least, not for me). And it’ll be a relief not to feel obligated to send out tweets, or fret over my sales figures for a long. long while.

I’ll keep writing reviews, I’ll keep this blog as up-to-date as I can, and I will engage with other readers and writers on the usual social media outlets, but as for self-publishing – after the next couple of books are done (and they aren’t far off) I’m taking a long and hopefully fruitful hiatus from it.

7 thoughts on “The self-publishing conundrum

  1. Fair points…all the self publicising is monumentally dull and really doesn’t get people anywhere.
    All those noisy people with the blog tours that nobody reads, the 20-times an hour robo-tweets that get them unfollowed , the “cover reveals”….they don’t seem to rack up any more sales than the rest of us.
    IN THE END THE STATISTIC IS STILL THERE…95% OF AUTHORS MAKE LESS THAN $500 a most of us will never beat those odds….especially if we can’t use the CAPSLOCK key!

    • I feel like I’m regressing in sales terms, and I’ve always been a believer in the notion that if you can’t do something competently then don’t do it at all. I feel that I’m a competent writer, but I’m an awful salesman. And I feel bad about beating the same people around the ears again and again with the same buy my book bleats, which I think is why sales of BB have been so poor. People who might have been interested are now so sick of hearing from me that they have become immune to my tweets, bleats and FB begging posts.

  2. I dunno….I bought it because I like the way you write the Stanton brothers….but most of us are preaching to the choir.Some of the more effective salesmen are rotten writers. Last bloke I saw picked up by a major label appears to have achieved his success from owning photogenic shaggy cows, rather than through his by-the-numbers Scotch serial killer books. Get a farm

    • Haha, brilliant. So if I start building an ark, maybe the major deal will come my way? I’m not shelving the Stantons, but I am going to take a break for a while. I’m going to try and get something written that might have mass audience appeal (which will most likely be my detective thriller or be The Amsterdamned, which features Mark Kandinsky, who appears in Bone Breakers).

  3. just remember, i spent a lot of my own money filming “Liminal States” and the final film, while OK, never earned me any money back. But that being said, I did learn an enormous amount by doing it, so I have no regrets. Every book you write makes you a better writer, so it really should be the same for you!

    • Cheers mate. I think I need to take a break away from self publishing, not writing. In fact, I think I’ll get more done by concentrating solely on writing at least for a while. Anyway I still have The Glasgow Grin to come before I do that. And that is a BIG work (75,000 words, at least)

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