Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Experiment in Hackery

I tried a little experiment this last week or so by NOT promoting any of my own work on the social media sites. And what were the results?

Well, the Hawthorne stories did fairly well. That is, four or five sold every day. Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound like much, but honestly, it's about the same number that would move if I was pushing them. Your Loyal and Dedicated Hack isn't exactly burning up any best-seller charts, man.

THE BASTARD HAND had a couple of good days for some reason, before dropping into the nether-regions.

CITY OF HERETICS is doing okay.

My FIGHT CARD novella, "Bluff City Brawler", has been consigned to the lowest regions of Obscure Hell.

In other words, it's all over the board. Just like it would be if I was out there being obnoxious.

It occurs to me, then, that aside from an initial push (say maybe a week or two long) when I have a new release, promoting my work on social media doesn't have too much effect. By that time, I'm preaching to the choir. Everyone who is going to buy it has bought it.

And if I want to reach a bigger audience, I need to either (1) find a new marketing platform, (2) hire a damn publicist, or (3) SELL OUT and write like James Patterson.

Currently considering all three options...

But no, I kid. Decision made: I won't be doing any serious promotion of my work on social media anymore, aside from that initial week-long push when something new comes out. I throw myself on the mercy of readers and reviewers.

Update: Crazy timing here, but only minutes after I posted this, I saw this essay over at HuffPost that really nails the whole thing.


  1. Do not promote your work. Write the next one.
    The only people who can promote your work are your readers, and if they follow you they will get tired of self-promotion and not bother talking about your stories themselves.

  2. Alas, I fear it's true.

  3. I hate to break it to you, but Option #3 might be out. I tried that and my sales are still all over the place.

    Just kidding, by the way.

    Sort of.

  4. "Write the next one" may well be the best piece of advice I've ever come across. I have a friend who wrote one novel and has obsessed for twenty years about selling it, rewriting it endlessly instead of putting it aside and writing something else. Writers are like sharks: we have to keep moving forward in order to eat.

  5. Your friend sounds like George Lucas, James! Definitely gotta keep moving on - the old is the old. I reckon give it a good month of promo, then back away. Just in case some tardy types missed the initial blurbs... ;)

  6. I came to similar conclusion as you not so long ago, Heath. Outside of an initial push for new work I don't think I'm going to bother with all that braying for attention from now on. Unless you have a budget you just end up shouting at the same folks again and again. I only wish I was selling five copies a day of my stuff! Hell, five copies a week would be something.

  7. Yeah. At some point you just have to stop and let the work stand on its own merits. Sometimes it'll take, sometimes it won't.

  8. That's interesting...and a bit surprising. I've already told you that I admired your marketing strategies and always meant to try and emulate you a little bit more in that regard. I'm curious if that's a fair test. I mean, I'm interested in your work and always buy stuff when you put it out. Your posts remind me when that happens and BAMBIDA...I buy. That being said, you're only getting any result out of your first post with me (or the first post I see) so any additional posts are of no marketing usefulness for me. I think your strategy of having a website with interesting content that people want to read (Noir recommendations and such) pays off huge. But Facebook posts after the first...probably not so much. Probably not more than 1 or two a month pays off, I'd guess. Just my random thoughts.