The free promotions to mark the Olympics went really well and all of your support is greatly appreciated. I love seeing that people from many different countries are reading this blog and hopefully those same people are amongst those downloading the stories too; just like the many countries are competing in the Olympics. There have already been some fantastic moments and memorable Gold Medals during this London Olympics 2012 and you can't beat a high like that if you are the one achieving (not that I've ever won a Gold Medal mind you!).
Like athletes competing in the Olympics there is much more that goes on before an event to prepare and it takes hard work and dedication, often years of hard work and dedication. Being an independently published author you have to do all the preparation to get the book ready, all the editing, proofreading, formatting, creating covers, etc. and that's the easy bit! Once your book is on Amazon sadly no fairy godmother with a sparkly dress and twinkling wand appears to make sure everyone knows about the book.
The marketing of the book takes a lot of time and research too. Finding the best ways to market your book is not easy and I have mostly used social networking to do this because I don't have a huge, magic pot of money to advertise in any traditional way. I am still a novice in the world of independent publishing though and I'm sure I will discover may new things and pitfalls along the way. This is part of the journey.
I have met some amazing, independently published authors through social networking who have helped to spread the word to bring Anastasia to more people and I happily do the same for them. I am learning though that you can't trust everyone and I have recently realised I have been spreading the word about a couple of fellow authors only to find that they have unfollowed me but still continue to allow me to promote their work for them. I will be much more careful in the future because time is precious and as a full time mum I simply cannot afford to waste my time on unscrupulous people. Live and learn.
I am very passionate about my stories because of the amount of work that goes into the whole process of getting a story on Amazon. I work with Fergus and together we create the stories. It can be daunting to receive his input and I have often thought 'where can I possibly take this?!' but once I start to research and write things just start to happen. It's like magic seeing everything take shape.
The buzz I get from writing the stories, promoting them and running promotions is amazing (even when I got a 1 star review!) but now the promotion is over I am feeling a little flat. I get verbal feedback that people are really enjoying the stories but reviews are so important to balance out any rogue 1 stars! Now the promotion has finished I am sure downloads will continue however watching the word spread about a promotion is a true credit to social networking and I salute those hard working writers out there that give up so much of their time to help others.
There are many that say social networking doesn't sell books but I am inclined to disagree. For one thing I know for a fact that I have reached a larger audience already than if I hadn't bothered using social networking; the number of downloads support this. New books on Amazon aren't as easy to come across as you'd think so you need the reviews and for people to click 'like' on your book for it to be more visible. Obviously increased sales are very important too!
I am followed on Twitter by teenage girls and young people from different countries and that in itself is proof that I am starting to reach the correct audience for my stories. As people continue to talk about Anastasia then I will no doubt get more young people following Anastasia through me and hopefully it will encourage more young people to read more. This is what it is important to me - encouraging young people to read more and firing their imagination, maybe even the first spark of a dream to become a writer themselves.
So onto the bit that causes major arguments among writers: should you 'sell' your book for free? It is all very well to say NOOOO don't do it because you are encouraging the trend for readers to simply wait to see what books are free. However, if I was fortunate enough to be supported by an agent and publisher then a lot of the marketing is done by them. They get your book 'out there'. Independently published authors, with no agent, publisher, etc. have to do all the work themselves and I believe allowing people to sample your work for free may encourage the reader to read other books of yours and recommend to their friends, etc.
Giving away books for free is not a new thing bred from t'internet. Maybe traditionalist writers have forgotten the numbers of books that were given away with magazines, newspapers, and other press. Some books were offered a chapter at a time inside the publications too so the readership could follow the story with each edition of their newspaper, magazine, etc. This is to encourage more people to read the author's books and recommend to people they know while making sure as many people as possible get to hear about this fantastic author and his/her work. What is happening now is an up to date version of that method of marketing at least that is how I see it.
Some genres are so saturated that it is necessary to stand out from the crowd to be noticed. I often feel like a five year old trying to jump up to see over the heads of those that have been around longer than I have. But the good thing is I have plenty of time to grow taller and hopefully stand out from the crowd in the future.
Until then I will continue to work hard and may well run more free promotions at some point because I like knowing that someone new may have happened across Anastasia and that thought makes me very happy.
So please continue to read as many books as you can by independent authors - I am discovering some fantastic authors. If you love a book you read for free then please buy more. You will be helping to make someone's dream come true.
The journey has begun...