Dat Writer Professionalism

Self-publishing should conjure up a desert wasteland backdrop with a hooded figure in black creeping along the outskirts of society. You’re avoiding big corporate publishers and taking your book rights into your own hands! You’re a rebel. You’re a revolutionary! You’re sticking it to the traditional industry route and to hell with all the rules!

Except, no.

The self-publishing world is not as vagabond as it once was, since the road to stand out amidst the millions of other indies who believe in their work is pretty similar to the corporate publishing route.

But I wanted to be an OUTLAW like one of these guys!!

Outlaws

Unfortunately, self-publishing may not give you the badass points you were hoping for. Remember, there’s a widely accepted code of conduct and professionalism for the most success, to help you stand up against those big-name publishers. My approach so far has been to be chill about it, like Spike Spiegel, because who didn’t like Spike Spiegel?? He remained composed, kicked so much ass because of it, and always came out on top. Until…you know.

Months ago, I tried to reach out to a website about possibly listing Chaos (un)Controlled during it’s free period on Amazon. It wasn’t one of the traditional promotion sites; I was trying to think outside the box and it was an NYC website I’d been following for years now. Since the main premise of Chaos (un)Controlled is Rixa climbing a ladder in the New York Public Library while working there as a Page to reach University Heights, it seemed fitting. Here was their response:

NYCOnTheCheapResponse

Welp, I’d gotten many query rejection letters before; I could handle this. I could see they were trying to scold me for my Vash-The-Stampede-like approach. Was my salutation “Hey guys”? Yes. Did I ask for a shout-out from “you guys”? Yes. Did I understand their offense? Nope, not at all. I guess I wasn’t “professional” enough. However, as a long-time visitor of their site and Twitter follower, I hadn’t found their site to be particularly professional at all. The layout wasn’t quality, site updates were only occasional, and they only had about 2,000 Twitter followers, so I hadn’t pegged their business as an uber-polished establishment that necessitated a suit and tie to email them. After that response I realized if that was what they were trying to be, then forget it, I didn’t need them. My whole premise for sticking with them had been their small-business-friendly feel. I love supporting small, non-corporate entities and other indie startups trying to make it in the world. So I stopped following them and no longer visit their site. Remember, I prefer Chucks. And I’m petty.

If someone enjoyed my work, and wants to come up and compliment me like “Yo, dude, bro, guy, your writing is sick, I really dug it,” I would appreciate that to the fullest. My go-to author profile picture is me sipping from a Pokeball mug. My descriptions don’t follow the standard “So-and-so Author was born in New England where she resides with her 3 kids, loving husband and dog. She has written numerous critically acclaimed pieces that have won countless awards from the Society of Great Writers That We Respect for their Professionalism yadda yadda.” Truthtrebles.com is my “author website,” I guess. I don’t try to professionalize my profile, because I’m a person first, indie author second. I’d rather read someone’s words rather than a list of their 30 awards or New York Times Bestseller rankings. I’d rather gain notoriety for realness, and go off guns-blazing like Gene Starwind. Professionalism doesn’t inspire human connection as much as realness.  It will hinder me, but that’s fine. Because outlaws are so much cooler. Especially when they wear peacoats with Chucks. And that’s kind of what self-publishing is all about.

See You Space Cowboy…

~Tael

Promo Pitfalls

Leave it to me to be your guinea pig for those affordable promos! Here’s some I’ve tried and will avoid using again in the future.

-eBooks Habit:

Took me awhile to even qualify to promote with them, as they require 5+ reviews on Amazon. The unforgivable mistake they made was not getting the book title correct in their tweets. But I gave it to you in the order. But you put the book on your site correctly. And you have the Amazon link to buy it. And it’s in the confirmation email you sent me. And I emailed them back letting them know they got it wrong. And I haven’t heard back so they likely don’t care. So I wasted my money on a blown promo. Not even going to make a big deal about it to them and demand a refund or corrected tweets. SCRATCHED.

-eBook Skill:

I actually used the free service option with no results. The problem is that they now email me exhibiting spammer behavior. I work in email marketing; I know the signs. I get emails from multiple From Names or From Emails, all with their same structure and branding. They send me offers for THE SECRET LIMITED EDITION AUTHOR REPORT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND TAKE YOU TO THE TOP OF THE AMAZON RANKING THAT WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE TO THE FIRST 100 PEOPLE WHO CLICK NOW AND BUY, HURRY! They pepper my inbox with discounts and sales and new options, essentially begging me to use their upgraded promotion packages. Perhaps it’s just standard marketing technique, but I hate a hard sell. I have come to distrust promotion sites that constantly advertise for you to promote with them. They seem to have the least ROI.

-Books & The Bear:

This one doesn’t pop up on the lists of book promo sites you’ll find online like the others. I found them through a Google search, and while their page looks impressive, once again, terrible ROI despite their high claims. When perusing their social media, I noticed that only half their posts are author’s book promotions. The other half is literally them promoting…THEMSELVES. I can’t imagine too many actual readers would even want to follow them because of the constant barrage of their own advertisements, “AUTHORS, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK TO OVER 200,000 READERS,” or “INCREASE YOUR BOOK SALES NOW AND PUBLICIZE WITH US,” literally every HOUR. Definitely more business first, author promotion second.

Also find below one of the “Fiverr Gigs That Don’t Do A Damn Thing” that I encountered:

-psammie – Their “I Will professionally Promote Your Book on Social Media” gig lives up to none of its claims. They actually had the nerve to message me this: psammie

So you’re saying that, although I paid for a service, without a 5 star-rating, you won’t be very motivated to continue through it’s completion? I left them nothing.

Guinea-pig-ninja, OUT.

~Tael

When Promotion is Shameless

Every author needs to promote their work somehow. But unless we have some degree of fame or an established platform, we enlist the aid of someone with experience in that field because we’re mere writers. Indie authors generally aren’t shelling out big bucks for savvy promoters, or tossing spare Benjamins to BookBub. We try to tackle as many low-cost promotion sites that we can, the majority of which are for free or discounted books.

And then there’s Fiverr.

Now Lincolns, we can spare more easily. Of course, you look at a gig and question how this person can have a reach of “millions.” You know 200 Facebook groups you can promote to? You have access to the largest, legitimately purchased mailing list and you’ve never gotten a single spam complaint? Hmmm…I work in email marketing so I know that’s about as attainable as beating a Water Temple from the Zelda series on the first swing without using an FAQ.

Still, you try out a few whose descriptions seem less scammy, and they email you proofs of their work. You check the first few images and think, okay, posting on book-related pages…doing good. Then you start to see groups like “Music Promoting Only,” “Make Money Online,” “House Music All Night Long,” and “Cape Town Finest Hip-Hop.”

Okay…I see where you’re going with this. Mass blast everywhere and hope it hits some randos, right? Until I saw this one.blogevidence

Never mind the Baby Swap shop…did you just post my book in a group called Mothers Who Have Lost a Child?

This is where promotion becomes shameless. This is where “Let’s mass blast this to EVERYONE in hopes that numbers increase bites” fails. If I could offer an apology to everyone in that group who had to read that post, I would.

I still highly support Fiverr, of course; as an indie author and New Yorker, I’m always willing to try out the smaller businesses and indies in the same situation as I. I will just be a little more cautious in the future by analyzing the gig description with a finer-toothed comb than I already have, and pray the provider has some damn tact. It’s like CraigsList. You can absolutely find a lot gems if you know how to avoid the shadies.

~Tael (I’ve landed 4 jobs off CraigsList.)