Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Self-Publishing and Self-Promoting

I self-published my debut collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, using Create Space. I selected nineteen previously-published stories. I felt hesitant about publishing any stories that weren't reprints. Why? I think I lacked the confidence to know which stories were "good enough". If a magazine or anthology editor selected it for publication, I felt better about including it. Even then, however, I revised, polished and made minor corrections to every story. For many, I benefited from the expertise and input of members from my local critique group. After nearly two years of editing the stories included (and dropping a few weak links along the way), I felt I had a quality product that I wouldn't be embarrassed by a stranger (or, for that matter, a friend, family member, acquaintance or coworker!) reading my stories.

My sister, Heidi, took the cover photo. My stepdaughter, Ashley, took the author photo. My writer friend, Karen, helped me set up a couple book signings and printed business cards for me. Hopefully everyone is getting a clear picture that this was "homemade" all the way.

More good news: As of this writing, six readers have posted reviews on Amazon. They're all five-star reviews. I greatly appreciate it when a reader takes the time to give feedback. I received a nice review on the horror web site Hellnotes from K. H. Vaughan. I received something like 34 'likes' for the review, which far surpassed 'likes' for other reviews posted. Again, greatly appreciated!

Now for the challenge of Self-Promotion: Last month, I conducted a contest and gave away a free book and a free exclusive story. This month I've been giving some behind-the-scenes author notes on all the stories collected in Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. I sent out fifteen query letters, asking potential reviewers if they would like a copy of my book to read and review.

I humbly note that I got two new subscribers to my blog, got one response to my query letters, and have sold a total of three books in the last six weeks.

That doesn't sound like a lot. It doesn't feel like a lot. Turns out promoting one's work is harder (and less fun) than simply writing!

So here's what I decided: I'll keep promoting myself and my work, but not at the expense of my writing. After not being very productive for the last several months, I have completed TWO brand-new stories, and am about half-way done with the first draft of a third.

That, to me, is time well spent.

Here's a link to order my collection, if you feel so inclined.

This is a link to the Hellnotes review of my collection.