You’ve heard me say it – write more shit.
You’ve heard a lot of people say it – write more shit.
You’ve heard people more famous and touchy than me say it – write more shit.
But sometimes you might need to hear somebody say this, too – Slow the FUCK down!
Last week I saw a guy post something to a FB group that I’m a member of about his new book being basically dead after 30 days, because it’s no longer “new” in Amazon’s algorithms, and should he make it permafree to bring in readers, or just ignore it and keep trying to write the next book in the series to get that out there in the next few weeks.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
Y’all, stop the goddamned presses. A book doesn’t die at a month old. Shit, some books don’t even find any kind of audience traction until several months into their life, or maybe a year or more. Let’s think about this for a second – if you like a band or musician, and you happen to not notice that they have a new album out the first couple of weeks that it’s out, does that mean you’re never going to buy that album? No. It means that you’ll grab it when you notice it.
Books are like that. Ebooks are especially like that. Y’all, indie writers have been bitching for years about trad pub working on a produce model and only giving a book 90 days to succeed before they pull all promotion of it, because that’s how long a bookstore can shelve a book before they have to pay for it. NOW you want to stop promoting a book after 30?
Look, I get it. You want to jam a bunch of work out there so your name stays fresh. Listen, I’ve been a proponent of publishing a bunch of stuff fast for a long time. That’s probably why I have so many damn titles out there. But that doesn’t mean that I give up on my babies after the initial rush of sales is over. I still promote (albeit less strenuously) The Chosen, which is the first book I ever wrote and self-published! That book is seven years old, and still makes me money.
Not much, don’t get me wrong, but for the five minutes I spend promoting it, the $50/month that book makes me is pretty good for a seven-year-old book.
No, it’s not much, but how much money did you earn off your second-grader last month? Right. I win.
For a less extreme example, let’s look at Calling All Angels, the Shadow Council novella I released in January. That book has been out for six months now, and the gild is definitely off the lily as far as any newness goes. I send out a tweet each day about the book, which cross-posts to Facebook. I do that with most of my recent releases, and I spent about an hour each weekend setting that up. So we’ll say I’ve spent an hour on that book specifically in the last three months, being generous.
It has earned me well over $600 in the past three months. That’s a pretty good rate for an hour. it’s not terribly specific, because I just don’t feel like digging through all the KDP reports to get the Kindle Unlimited earnings for the book, but in the last 90 days, it’s earned $450 in sales, so I feel safe assuming it’s earned at least another $150 in page reads, just eyeballing the chart.
Do I spend a lot of time flogging that book? No. Do I spend any money promoting it? No. But I don’t spend any appreciable money promoting any of my books. I probably spend less than $200 per month on promotion, and most of that is on Mailchimp, Hootsuite, and Instafreebie subscriptions.
So I guess my point is, and let me be very clear in case anybody misses it, because I don’t want to spend my afternoon explaining myself – THIS IS NOT A MOTHERFUCKING RACE. There aren’t prizes for flinging the most poo against the wall. There’s no blue ribbon for releasing the most shitty books and finally selling a fuckton of one of them in the first week it’s out. You’re building a goddamn career, not pulling a jewelry store smash-and-grab.
Don’t get me wrong – you still need to write fast. You still need to publish more than one book every three years. You almost certainly need to publish more than one or two books every year to build a career. But you do not have to throw a book out there, then immediately abandon it a month after it’s published just because the shiny wore off and Amazon’s computer doesn’t help you anymore.
For fuck’s sake, these tips are things to help you promote your awesome books, not ways to game the fucking system to force you into this rapid-fire shit-slinging like meth-addled monkeys at the zoo. Yes, you get a boost from the search algorithms when your book is new. That doesn’t mean give up when that help goes away, that just means work harder. It means be smart about how you spend your money. If you’re going to spend money on promotion, time it to coincide with when the system is working for you, don’t just give up when it starts to work against you. And shit, it’s not even that it works against you, it just ignores you. Okay, so you don’t get to exploit the search box anymore. Maybe you should, I don’t know, WRITE AWESOME BOOKS AND GROW A GODDAMN FAN BASE instead of trying to game the fucking system in some ludicrous get-rich-quick scheme.
So yeah, if you want to jump on a bandwagon, then go for it. Hop right on, write a book and forget about it after a month. But if you want to build a career, you don’t abandon your shit right after you make it. It takes time to grow a readership. Years, even. So write faster, but slow down.