Friday, April 01, 2016

Just How Long Should A Self-Published Author Keep Promoting An eBook?

The big reason for self-publishing an eBook edition of Saving the Planet & Stuff back in 2013 was the experiment aspect. I knew enough about self-publishing to realize it isn’t a money-making deal for the vast majority of people who get into it. I was interested in what would happen. How would the life of a self-published eBook be different from that of a traditionally published paper-and-ink book?

So Little Time

One of the things I found particularly frustrating about publishing is that there is a very small window for new books to become successful or even to generate sales and attention. It’s not as bad as television, where programs often have just a couple of weeks before they’re pulled from the schedule, or movies, which have only a weekend before they’re written off as failures. For books, it’s more like a few months. Then the traditional publishing world is on to what’s being published right now or this fall or spring. This is true of litbloggers, too. Most don't have a great deal of interest in last season's offerings, forget about the offerings of a few seasons back. Everyone wants to be part of the publishing establishment, and the publishing establishment is a bullet train that stops for no one.

Perhaps I have mentioned that a week or two after my first book, My Life Among the Aliens, was published, I naively went up to the information desk at my local Borders and asked why the book wasn’t available. The woman there looked it up on her computer. “We had a copy,” she said. “But it didn’t sell, so we sent it back.”

I’ve read marketers advising writers to give up promoting their books after three months and work on their next one. There’s nothing more that can be done for the "old" book at that point.

So Little Space

Paper-and-ink books are real objects that take up space on shelves and in warehouses. That’s a big factor shortening their sales’ lives. Bookstores can’t carry every book published every year, forget about books from past years. And they can’t sacrifice space to books that aren’t bringing in money fast. A book can’t sit on a shelf while it builds up a readership. Even warehouse space is costly. There is a logical reason new books are pushed aside so fast. You might call it the publishing world’s space and time continuum problem. (If I knew something about physics, I’d try to carry that analogy a whole lot further. Or just maybe make it work in the first place.)

EBooks And Space And Time

EBooks, do not take up space. It doesn’t cost anything to store them because they are not objects. They are pure thought! They are…Wait. Don’t go there, Gail.

My point is, it doesn’t cost anyone anything to store eBooks in warehouses or place them on store shelves where a John Green book that would sell by the end of the day could go. So now the question arises, if space is not an issue, does that mean that time isn’t an issue, either? Shouldn’t an author/publisher be able to market an eBook indefinitely?

Testing that theory is why every now and then I get out the ol’ lab coat and do a marketing push for Saving the Planet & Stuff. I love planning work for month-long periods (look what I did with Lent), so this is my second year assigning said marketing to the month of April, home of Earth Day.

For this year’s marketing push, I wanted to do something different. So I’ve changed my publishing platforms so that I can offer Saving the Planet & Stuff for free during Earth Day week. I’ll remind you as the free days come closer.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing posts here this month related to Saving the Planet & Stuff, or environmentalism, or self-publishing. Or anything else I can think of that beats this horse.

I love a plan.

Anyone had experience with this kind of marketing?


Natasha Sass said...

In the same vein it doesn't take any space to have a print-on-demand book either. Sales for self-published picture and middle grade books do much better in paperback POD. So I'd go one step further and look into establishing print availability for your book as well.
One thing that truly exists in the self-pub market is long tail sales. Your book will continue to serve you and your readers for years to come! :)

Gail Gauthier said...

I actually have thought of looking into print on demand. Perhaps that will be next year's experiment.