Over at Whatever, John Scalzi is doing his annual pimp thread week wherein authors are allowed – nay, encouraged! – to leave a comment touting the merits of their work in the hope that eager readers will swarm them with love and money. Today is pimp day for traditionally published authors, tomorrow is for non-traditional. Which would be me. Assuming I can fit the criteria he sets, I’ll certainly be posting a link to the Veil War. Since Scalzi gets about 50k readers a day – readers that we may reasonably assume are heavily self-selected in the science fiction direction – one might hope that the result is more readers. Especially since the Veil War is free.
Last week I submitted the Veil War to Boing Boing’s submitterator, and got two visitors. I will admit that that was not the most successful propaganda ploy in world history, but, hey! A warm welcome to both of you. Don’t be shy, introduce yourselves!
Which leads me to my question for you: Where can I go to get the word out to more potential readers? More to the point, where I can increase my visibility without looking like a preening jackass?
I’ve pondered a more aggressive twitter campaign. I note that George O’Har and Steve Umstead – both of whom I mentioned the other day – have twitter followings of 850 and 13,000. I presume from the numbers that Mr. O’Har grew his Twitter following the old fashioned way and Mr. Umstead used more aggressive tactics. I wonder how much traffic @steveumstead is driving to his website? Granted, our situations are not identical – while he posted an excerpt from his upcoming eBook, he’s not serially publishing a whole story. I want readers, he wants readers and buyers.
Those of you on Twitter – if you had never heard of @veilwar, and @veilwar followed you – what are the chances that you might have ended up here?
Initially, I went on Twitter to publicize a new novel. Yes, Twitter can be fun, and you do meet some darned interesting people. But it is a very weak vehicle, from what I’ve seen, to drum up a book or to actually get readers to buy it, and for obvious reasons. You have to be indirect. You’d bore everyone to death if you kept talking about yourself or your “product.” A lot of Tweeters do that. I don’t think it helps them much.
I have no idea how many books got sold as a result of my being on Twitter, but if someone told me zero, I would not be surprised. If I have it correct, the way Twitter works, ideally, is you develop a sort of following of people who are interested in what you tweet. Hope is they get interested enough to look more deeply into what you do, etc., and then, when they are perhaps feeling low or lonely, they might go on Amazon & buy a novel.
Another downside is that there are a lot of writers on Twitter. In effect, you are one small all but invisible tree in a vast and numberless forest. Also, because I only have 800 or so followers, my reach is limited. Steve Umstead may have a very different experience from mine, given his number of followers. And there are folks, celebrities, like the Kardashian horde, who have millions of followers. Once you get up in that range, Twitter may well work as an indirect marketing tool. But my numbers are too low for me to say it’s done any good on the sales front. I could be wrong, of course. But I doubt it.
All that said, I’d appreciate hearing how Mr. Umstead got himself so many followers. Did he win last year’s Survivor? Was he on Dancing with the Stars?
You might want to consider seeing if Joe Buckley would repost your novel segments on his website “Dahak’s Orbit – Collected Driblets of Baen.”
Despite the name, he has done so for non-Baen books in the past. I don’t believe it could hurt to ask, and if he does, it would certainly gain you more new readers than Boing Boing.
@george – I’m guessing that Umstead is using something like Tweet Adder 3, which is a sort of automated tool for gaining followers. Just google if you’re interested. I can easily see how that app, or something like it, could get you followers as it allows you to easily search, say, every twitter user’s profile for specific search terms like, “goblin” and then follow them.
Given the average twitterer’s inclination to follow back people who follow them, you could conceivably get a fair number of hits back at your blog/website if you had a sufficiently huge following on Twitter. It’s a thought, anyway – little different from most forms of advertising, but free.
Over gin and tonic last night, my good friend Chris suggested Facebook ads. For $20 or so, apparently, you can get some seriously targeted advertising.
@doug – I’ll send him an email. Worst he can do is say no. Thanks for the tip.