Self-Publishing Part 11: A Wobbly Platform Starts Taking Aim

by wlancehunt in Personal Narrative

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

All manner of plans still not enacted aside my site was live.

Further, I was trying out the ideas from the books I’d chosen as models albeit in a piecemeal, disorderly, catch-as-catch-can fashion.

One of my first active actions was to take every one of the early fans from the FB group and put them into the email list program, make a fancy-looking (imagine quite busy with far too many images) email announcing the book’s publication, which I then sent to all eleven of them. The results: One recipient confirmed buying my book because she got this email. That’s nearly 10% conversion, which is quite high I’ve read. More importantly, it’s proof of concept, suggesting that I’m NOT wasting my time.

Certainly, with such a tiny sample, this single email proves nothing, but it WORKED damn it!

Then, I emailed a few friends and much of my immediate family. Why not all my friends and family?

Well, I decided, I needed to get things right on my end before I send a bunch of folks over to a site that was hardly out of pupa state. This is one of the more insidious facets of a Cat-State opening: I legitimately needed a good site to send people to; so I had an entirely reasonable, non-disingenuous reason not to reach out in full—honest postponement. But without a specific end date.

Soon, I announced it on social media, meaning on my FB page and the FB group. The results—I’m not sure. Yes, I got many thumbs up, and a few positive comments. And that is about it. Did it lead to sales or more interest than reflex congrats? No real way to know unless someone sends me an email. This disconnect between action and result is a serious issue when dealing with social media. Did someone see my post, then later go to Amazon or iBooks, and buy it? I’ve no way of knowing.

Oh, sure if I had built a special “Buy Now” link with custom URL, and if they had clicked on it, I could have tracked that behavior so far as that went. But from personal experience, I can say people don’t buy while they are cruising around FB looking for something to divert themselves with for a little while and for free; certainly not for over $20.00: that’s a touch pricey for an impulse buy.

Yes, by looking at iUniverse’s sales tracking and Amazon’s Author Central, I do know I sold a handful of books. Emails confirmed the identity of my mother, one of my sisters, my half-brother, and one other friend. The other couple of orders sold to people I couldn’t ID. On Amazon’s Author Central report, only the city where someone bought a book is revealed. The one book sold in the Boston area I guessed at who bought it (but later discovered I’d guessed wrong). The few others, I’d no clue.

What lead to whoever those people were to buy?

Search me.

Thusly I got caught up in mental the hall of mirrors that works so well at leading me to believe I’m doing so much while simultaneously letting me slip away from the work puts the book to the test in the market in front of reviewers, general readers and opinion makers—a style of avoidance manifesting itself not in utter abandonment of work. That would have been easier to recognize and address.

Rather, it had me consumed in obsessive planning and consumption of yet more information, adding, even more, things to my list of to dos, which then required reordering to assure my time is best spent of course. So of the 2-3 hours a day(ish) I spent in marketing my book, 1 hour was devoted consuming more information (can’t miss the best ideas!), 1 hour to fitting that into my lists, which existed in too many places, causing delays in even finding where to put it down (have to make sure everything gets done in the right order!), and as for the remaining time, if any, about an hour, or less—that was spent doing something close marketing—usually laying the ground work for some future terribly important action that needed this preparation. In a week, I might find one day when I spent a whole hour expanding the site, or writing copy, or acting on the pile of to-dos, which often sent me scurrying around to find a better way to organize and act, like a dog chasing its tail. Working up a storm but getting nowhere.

This hounded me for months, and still nips at my heels, though it seems I’ve seen a path out, which is, mostly, getting acted on, though there is still a fair amount of learning.

This dresses the stage for part twelve: the quest for 500 softbound buyers—and the Star Designation.


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