There is absolutely no progress to report on the publication of my labour of love that I sweated blood over all winter, The Paths Life Takes. As I had mentioned in the last installment of this series, as an attempt to prevent myself from dwelling on the inertia of the publishing industry, I had decided to take another stab at self-publishing by binding together installments of NaNoWriMo Notes into book form and trying to flog some copies through Lulu.com.
Due to the surprising fact I lack the financial resources of even the smallest of publishing houses, part of this process is to see how much of a response I can get spending as little money as possible. The Internet is a big place and I figured if you hunt long enough you're bound to find places where you can access free advertising and information distribution.
Of course the first thing I needed to do was come up with a snappy press release, thankfully I'm luckier than most in that I spent a good deal of time doing publicity in a previous incarnation (about 20 years ago) and can still knock off a press release easily enough. The first thing to remember is hardly anyone reads more then the first two or three paragraphs and the bottom for the contact information. So you really need to top-load it.
Richard Marcus, Contributing Editor at Blogcritics.org, contributor to Desicritics.org, and the iconoclastic mind behind the Blog "Leap In The Dark," is pleased to announce the publication of NaNoWriMo Notes.
Subtitled an exercise in creative insanity, Notes details Mr. Marcus' participation in the annual National Novel Writing Month competition where participants are challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. As that didn't seem a sufficient challenge on its own, Mr. Marcus decided he should also attempt to continue his pace of writing an article a day for blog publication as well, including keeping a record of his attempt to complete the contest: Hence NaNoWriMo Notes.
Ashok K. Banker, author of the new Ramayana has this to say about Leap In The Dark and it's author: "Take my word for it, Leap In The Dark is the most refreshing and invigorating blog you're likely to read today – or any other day." (Press release NaNoWriMo Notes 2006 Richard Marcus)
In my opening three short paragraphs (bet you didn't know I could be pithy did you?) I've told them my credentials as a writer, what the thing is about, and snuck in an endorsement. If I had worked on it a little more I could probably have tightened up the second paragraph, but it's good enough.
Once you have a press release you have to figure out what the hell to do with it. Not to worry, it seems press release distribution has become a thriving web business with companies offering you packages that include a variety of different distribution levels and even writing the damn thing for you. Of course none of these services are free or really designed for the individual or more accurately the individual author.
The one place that did offer some form of free distribution and then very reasonable progressions up the pay scale, (they start off at ten dollars) was PRWeb.com. For now I've only signed up for the free service. I'm not sure if it gets me anything more than a listing in their on-site press release listings, but it's a start.
I soon began to realize I wasn't going to be able to make use of any of the conventional approaches I had years ago. I'll mail out a couple press releases to the local media up here, although I'm not even sure they know what self-publishing is, and see if I get any bites. But creating my own press seems to be the most promising way of getting results.
For that to work you need people to be able to find you. Somehow or other I've managed to develop a pretty good ranking with Google, probably through my association with Blogcritics, and the fact that I've published every day for over a year now. I'm getting about 800 real visits and 1,100 hits a week now at my blog, so that's not too bad a base to start building on.
One of the things I'm doing is trying out the Google Books listings to try to increase my visibility. I had a momentary bit of panic when I applied because I had to get an ISBN and I wasn't sure how much they would cost. Thankfully in Canada they are free; all you have to do is, dependant on the number of books you're printing, is give up to three copies of your publication for deposit in the National Library and Archives.
It will end up costing me about $25 Canadian with printing and mailing costs, but that's a lot cheaper than I had anticipated. The benefit of being listed as a published book outweighs that cost by a long shot anyway and will help with marketing.
I was looking into getting an Amazon listing, but that's beyond my means for a while. It would cost me well over a hundred dollars of money I don't have to supply them with copies, mail them, and pay the space rental. Even just buying a listing as a third market seller is beyond my means, and only items already listed are eligible for that anyway.
My best bet is to utilize what resources I have available already. I've already dropped little buttons that Lulu offers on the most visited pages of my blog. They come pre-loaded with a link to the page selling your item, but are generic in appearance so you have to put them in tandem with something that lets people know what it is they're buying.
What I'm hoping will work is a separate page that I'm creating at my blog just for NaNoWriMo Notes (it's still under construction – just some text). If I can draw traffic there it might generate interest and I can utilize some of Lulu's bigger banner ads without worrying about any descriptive phrases.
I'll do the usual stuff for it, generate a feed to be listed at FeedBurner, find as many places as possible to list it. (I'm sure there are numerous places you can list books for sale pages without paying – it's just a matter of finding them all.)
I'm not expecting any miracles; it's not as if I'm pouring a huge amount of resources into this after all, but it will be interesting to see what if any results this minimal effort produces. I've already had 13 hits checking out NaNoWriMo Notes since I published it last week, and that's been with little or no publicity. Who knows, I may even sell a copy.