My first eBook was published in 2005, and as for as short a time ago as that is, things have dramatically changed. For most small presses the author was (and is still) responsible for almost all promotion. Readers for eBooks were available, but not backed by large corporations like Amazon (started 1994, made its first profit — a penny a share — at the end of 2001, and spread from books to everything shortly after) and Barnes and Noble. Most sales were from the online book publisher until sites like Amazon took over.
It seemed at the time that mainstream print publishers scoffed at the concept, but they were losing market and electronic books were the only growth section in the publishing industry. Now you can read not only books, but magazines, newspapers, see TV and movies, receive phone calls, text, and often all on the same device. I have a Kindle and I like it, but all I do is read on it in the car and at night before sleeping, and I can get any publisher's books, small press or NY major publisher, in eBook formats. The market is flooded. The big difference is big publishers have more money to put into promotion and have taken over the market, and although the authors must promote as much as small press authors, they have more backing.
Ten years ago finding your electronic market niche was difficult. As authors, we helped open a market. Reviews on the Internet were about eBooks, and some major review sites emerged. That has changed. I think promotion is even more difficult today. Then there were groups you could post to and have conversations with readers. Most of these sites are almost all promotions and excerpts, and I find that disheartening. The big gun presses have moved into this territory and have taken over almost every review site. It seems almost impossible to get a review at sites where I once had no trouble receiving a review.
I was glad to give away books because I thought it helped introduce readers not only to my stories but to the idea of eBooks. I'd give away copies on my birthday and send out thirty or more books. The year I got only two requests, I decided no more. However, I am rethinking the give-away idea, perhaps putting one of my books up as a free promotion work; don't know.
Some say as an author half your time is writing and half promotion. Sorry that is too much promotion for me as much of it feels like I'm spinning wheels. Amazon gives away eBooks and seems to do very well, but how does all of this translate into sales and income for authors? The middleman seems to make the most. Now I try to have a presence on most social media and plug away at that. If asked to give away a book, I certainly do. So I'm not sure how successful promotions are.
I have done advertising and had some success (i.e. sales I relate to the ads showed in my quarterly report), but again, I'm often going up against big-name published authors. None I've participated in have given statistics on how many were given away or how much interest was generated, or especially on how much income was generated from sales afterward. Most media agencies do not work that way. So there is an overwhelming lack of reporting on the effectiveness of these promotions. A question about audience is also ignored. I'm beginning to believe stories appeal to fewer people, especially among those under fifty, as more interactive games and entertainments proliferate.
I've come to the conclusion that I will continue to write because I love to tell stories. I will participate as my publishers request. I will try to make the content of my blogs interesting and current to showcase not only my books, but also what interests me. Occasionally I receive a great review on a major site, or a flattering email from a reader. I take this as my good job pat-on-the-back. I think the only thing I can do to promote my name as an author is to continue to write, and someday hope to get picked up by a large publisher. Interestingly, I have found my quarter reports keep increasing. That was one thing e-publishing promised — books available forever; and that gives me the encouragement to keep trying.
~ But just in case, check out my books on my excerpt page. If you'd like one of my titles, email me the title you'd like. Offer good until August 2, 2014. ~
Others participating in this month's round-robin. Click on their name is see their take on this topic.