If you truly love me, you’ll ignore my screams of terror

Like many things in life, writing is a roller coaster ride. But it’s a ride that most writers can manage by themselves, or with the encouragement of a small group of peers. The scarier roller coaster departs the platform after the book is written. This is the hell ride known as promotion.

Promotion is a huge, daunting monster you can’t work out in your own head while sitting quietly. If you are a low-key, quiet type of person, it can be difficult to even board this ride without lots of support. It’s important to have a few people who love you. It’s also good to have some people who like you.

The people who love you, a spouse for example, can help psyche you up for this ride that goes so much against your nature. They comfort you and coax you toward the car, then, when necessary, in the ultimate act of love, they give you a good shove into the seat and slap down the restraint bar over your arms. You know you need to do this, but it’s hard to overcome your nature. Only the most cherished loved ones will be there to tenderly ignore your screams of terror and lock you in before you can run away.

If you are that shy, quiet writer, do yourself a favor by marrying someone completely opposite from you. Find someone who likes to plan events, rocks social media, and has no qualms about tooting your horn for you, because face it, you’ve never been any good at tooting it yourself. Your better half makes it sound much more melodious than you ever did.

running the show

“You just hold your hands out and smile big, and I’ll make sure this whole ball of yarn happens.”

Do your best to make sure they love you, because they really excel at these things when their heart is in it.

If they are the best thing you’ve got going for you in life, they will also be the best thing you’ve got going promoting your books.

This crazy ride is also easier if you have people who like you. These are the people who show up to your signings and pay their hard-earned money for your books, not because they are sure you are this generation’s Steinbeck, but because they like you and they want to show you some support.

They get excited about having you sign their copies, not because your autograph promises to become valuable, but because your signature is a memento from that time when they watched you reach for the stars, regardless of how close you came to touching any sky.

A little help

It’s nice to have friends to look out for you when your comfort zone gets turned upside down.

I’ve always tried to be likeable to the people I know. This has paid off in the support I have received from them. I wonder what would happen if I had spent more time getting to know a larger group of people. But that’s where my nature limits me again. At least I didn’t spend my life pissing off my relatively small group, so I’ve got that going for me.

And that’s a good start.

The Goodreads giveaway learning curve

A few posts back I mentioned that I was holding a Goodreads book giveaway for A Housefly in Autumn. That giveaway has come and gone. Here is what I learned.

Submit your giveaway at least a week before you want it to begin. It’s supposed to take Goodreads a couple of days to approve your giveaway. Mine took about a week. I had scheduled my giveaway to begin the day after I submitted it and run for a month. Consequently, I lost about six days off the front of it. I wouldn’t have minded so much losing six days in the middle, but what I didn’t know is the first few days and the last few days of a giveaway are the most important.

There are tons of giveaways on Goodreads. Most folks who are interested in them look in two places: the list of new giveaways and the list of giveaways about to end. When my giveaway was finally approved, it was already six days old. My listing, when it showed up, was already deeply buried with in the new list. Only giveaway hunters with great perseverance would dig that deep. I missed out a good number of entries because of this.

giveaway pitch

According to the site, the average giveaway garners 825 entries. When you miss the first week or your own giveaway, you get fewer.

The middle of a month-long giveaway is the doldrums. The book is prominent on neither of the lists people search. Hence, the number of entrants drops sharply. Only after I had set up my giveaway did I find good advice about ignoring the Goodreads recommendation for longer giveaways. A long middle does no good. It’s best to jump directly from the new list to the about to end list. A week seems plenty long for a giveaway.

I offered autographed copies. This was another mistake. Autographed copies meant I would have to mail them myself, which led me to yet another mistake. I limited my giveaway to the U.S. because I didn’t want to have to pay huge amounts to ship books overseas. If I had not offered autographs, I could have bought the books online and had them shipped directly. Who knows how many entrants I cut myself off from by limiting the giveaway like this?

There are two main goals in offering a giveaway. The first is to get members to add the book the their “to-read” lists. The mistakes already mentioned hindered my efforts in this direction. As it was, 525 people entered, of which 228 added the book to their personal lists. Many of those people have more than 1,000 books on their “to-read” lists; some have tens of thousands. This means there are thousands of books on lists that will never be read.

The second goal of a giveaway is to garner reviews. Goodreads say that around 60% of people who win giveaway books write a review. Most commentary I’ve read suggests this is overly optimistic. I gave away six books. By Goodreads numbers, I should receive at least three reviews. I would love for this to happen, but one thing I’ve learned in this self-publishing biz is not to hold my breath.