Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Got Back... List

Lately I’ve gotten into laser-focus mode. I comment on blogs less frequently than I used to, and when I do, I don’t tend to keep coming back or engaging in debate. I’m spending a bit less time on Twitter and Facebook as well. Why?

Besides being burned out...

Marketing is important, but the most important thing is backlist. Selena Kitt and Joe Konrath are selling like crazy crack-monkeys not only because they can write, but because they have monster backlists. As you start to build a name for yourself as an indie, the best thing you can do is have more work for your fans to consume once they finish whatever they’re reading of yours now.

The more times someone clicks a buy button for a book with your name attached to it, the more buying from you becomes a habit and the lower the wall of resistance for them to buy something from you in the future.

My focus right now is on writing more and putting more work out into the world so I can build my backlist. It may take awhile, but it’s my goal to get to the point where I can release a book every six months without quality suffering. Since I don’t have a job outside of this, it should be doable eventually.

It’s my belief that when you’re starting out you hit a bit of a plateau where, unless you have a huge marketing budget where you can spend actual money to bring readers to you, you’ve exhausted your current reach.

It’s not your total reach. There are probably many people out there who would like your work that you just haven’t reached yet. But, without the marketing dollars, there is no good way for you to reach them.

I did a big Kindle giveaway recently. I had a rush of blog visitors and a lot of contest entries, and several new readers, but it still didn’t broaden my overall platform gigantically. The only way to move forward at this point is to release new work, and then build platform from the momentum of that release. Then do it again. And again.

I know many indies feel sort of adrift because they’ve told me so. And I’ve felt adrift as well at times, not knowing where to put my focus. It seems absolutely necessary to stay plugged-in constantly with people so they don’t forget who you are and you don’t fall off the map. But unless we’re talking about your hardcore uber fans who will pimp your work until their dying day, there is a law of diminishing returns here.

I’m starting to believe that the best strategy is a big marketing push at the beginning of a new release, followed by consistently (but moderately) getting your name out there and focusing most of your effort on building your catalog of work.

The more books you have, the more opportunities people have to find your work, and once hooked, the more chance you have of repeat buyers who become serious fans.

Zoe Winters is an indie author of quirky paranormal romances. Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear.


  1. Zoe, I think you've hit the nail on the head. When authors ask me the best thing they can do to market their work, I tell them to WRITE. Write write write. Your backlist is your MOST important selling point (aside from upcoming new releases to keep your name out there... and they are inextricably linked, obviously! :)

    The reason I have such a big backlist is because I spent a year cranking out work like a crazy crack-monkey! lol I did Literotica's Survivor for a year. My editor sent me all my work printed and bound in spiral for the year and it filled a huge cardboard box over a foot high and that's when I realized just HOW MUCH writing I'd done that year! And here I was posting it on a free site... what if I'd been paid for it? And that's how it began...

    So I would definitely suggest focusing your energy. For folks who don't write erotica, Lit isn't a great option, but there are others. November and Nanowrimo is coming up - it's great incentive to write a novel in a month. And it CAN be done.

    Go for it!

  2. haha you said crazy crack-monkey, too! Yeah, I'm definitely focusing hard on releasing new work for both of my pen names and just cranking it out. I do work hard, but... a lot of that work has not been WRITING work, it's been all the minutiae surrounding publishing and marketing. I've been using it as a procrastination tool. It's self-sabotage, but I've got my head screwed on straight now!

    And I've totally written a novel in a month! My problem is how long it takes to edit. But I'm finding my way around that, and it's becoming less intimidating. I also think my rough drafts are slowly starting to get stronger, so it's reasonable to assume I can start getting more work out faster, especially since I write shorter work usually.

    I used to say I only wanted to put one book out a year because I didn't want to be on that treadmill where you have deadlines. But this is what I want to do for a living and whether I'm my own boss or someone else is my boss, I have to work or I won't reach my goals.

    Oh, when is Persephone's Surrender coming out? I've wanted to read that book for ages.

  3. I'm learning so much from this blog! I've been following Zoe for a few months now and I'm still courting the idea of going totally indie. It's definitely a seductive idea, total control and all that. But I'm still a little clueless as to what goes into the marketing and promotion side. Thanks Selena, for starting this blog and putting this info out there for us.

  4. Hey T., thanks!

    A lot of it is just getting your name out there. Comment on forums (but not self-promo), comment on blogs where you can be seen, get involved on Twitter and Facebook. Guest blog. Solicit for reviews... lot of book review bloggers out there. etc. It's all a big experiment what works and what doesn't.

    You'll also want to tweak your book covers and your description pages and your pricing until you get the sales and conversion rates that make you happy.

  5. Great way to approach it. I'm putting out my first ebook November 1st and was going to go about it the same way. Get people interested and then work on getting the next one out. 1 book every 6 months is a smart idea. It's not bad to post some short stories/flash on your site every once in awhile as well!

    I'll probably have to step back a little from all the crazy amount of blogging I've done to work on the next release, which needs some editing/rewrites, and then work on a sequel to the first book. And it's true, you can write a book in a month! I'll have to give myself a NaNo-style deadline for the sequel, otherwise I'll never get done! Hoping the idea of people actually waiting for it will make me work harder/faster!

  6. Hey Karly, thanks for commenting! And yeah, the entire landscape changes once you have someone waiting for more! (of course that didn't stop me from taking a year and a half after my first release to release something new. LOL. But I've turned from my evil ways.)

  7. Zoe,

    I'm going through the same type thing cutting down drastically the amount of time on the networking sites because I'm not sure its anything more than a time sucker at this stage.

    My plan is almost the same as far as book releases - four to six month intervals. Although the next release after Vengeance (FIDO) has to come after End Game (eXcessica) is released in February because characters from both series cross and the chronological order is important to both series.

    So timing of that particular release is everything - not to mention it isn't quite done yet. I'm using November - not nano but another writer's group marathon - as the incentive to finish the first draft of this one.

    The most difficult thing for me is I have a pretty demanding day job - so finding time between that and the other committments I've made to write is a fine tuned juggling act.

    I'll be curious to see how this all pans out for us.

    Thanks for your insight!