Getting the word out there.

Happy Saturday, y’all! In the, er, 8 days since we last met (and by “met” I mean my last blog post), not all that much has happened on the writing front, unfortunately, and I confess I’m growing impatient — I’d take a definitive “No” over an I-don’t-know. I did hit 2.4 million reads on Wattpad (which is awesome, i.e. you guys are awesome). I’ve been getting about 100K new reads every day since Paladin was featured a little over 2 weeks ago.
I’m beginning to seriously consider the self-published route, for a few different reasons. For one thing, Paladin is my debut novel…and hopefully not the best book I’ll ever write. Am I wasting my time trying to get my first attempt at writing a novel published? I’ve read in a hundred different blogs that your first book is crap; it’s the second book that sells.
But I’ve put so much time and energy into Paladin, and I really do believe in it. Heck, I’m somebody’s favorite author! The primary benefit of self publishing, as far as I see it, is then this whole publishing business is done and over with. I can stop editing (I think I’ve seriously spent like, 200 hours editing this thing); I can start thinking about the sequel to Paladin or a new series entirely. I’m itching to write something new (although a new world has yet to pop into my head, which scares me a little).
The thing is, self publishing would be taking a huge risk. I’d have to invest some of my own money–and let me tell you, I’m not rolling in dough–and a lot of time. I would need to find a cover artist (and likely pay them), and if I were to produce hard copies (vs. ebooks) of Paladin, the money would come out of my own pocket. I would need to either hire a copy editor ($$$) or go through the whole novel again with a fine tooth comb…which will take me another 20 or 30 hours. Any way you slice it, the journey to getting published will take a loooong time.
But what I think will be the biggest time suck is getting the word out there. I’ve got an amazing 2,400 followers on Wattpad — and presumably significantly more readers than that — but not all of my followers and readers are going to want to purchase my book. The biggest mistake I think authors on Wattpad make is that they only focus on the Wattpad community. Us Wattpadders are accustomed to reading books for free, and actually paying for a book is a cultural shift that authors are trying to force down Wattpadders’ throats. (Don’t get me wrong — when Paladin is published, I’ll ask you to buy my book. But I won’t condemn you if you don’t. You’ve already paid me in encouragement, and that counts for a lot).
The real opportunity lies with the readers who haven’t already read Paladin–and I think limiting myself to the Wattpad community would be silly. There are 5 million registered users on Wattpad…but there are over 7 billion people in the world! Okay, that’s a bad comparison, because the whole world isn’t literate, or fluent in English, or flush with money in order to purchase a book, but you get my point. The world is changing, too — ecommerce (in other words, online sales) is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2016 and Juniper Research forecasts that purchases via mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) will outpace shopping on desktops. Research also shows that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world, after Google.
Why am I citing all these random stats? It impacts how us authors (and publishing houses) have to target potential readers. Advertising your book in a newspaper or on the side of a bus? So 1990. Authors need to find a way to tell the new reader about their book. The new reader is digitally-savvy, likely on their mobile more often than their laptop, and consuming information via lots of different channels — Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Goodreads. Maybe Wattpad.
So what the heck does all this have to do with self publishing vs. traditional publishing? Well, if I self publish, I have to do all my advertising myself! And what used to be pretty straightforward–send your book out to a few review blogs, maybe fork out some $$$ for an advertisement in the newspaper or an online news site–is now super complicated. To really get the word out there, you need to have a presence and strategy on all those different channels (mobile, Internet, traditional, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Wattpad, YouTube, etc.). Multimedia is the wave of the future. Unfortunately for me, I’m a technological dunce.
At the Digital Hollywood panel I spoke at last week, Brittany Geragotelis talked about the makeover videos she posts on YouTube, to tie into the magical makeover her main character gets in her book (seriously, check them out). Another great example of creative marketing for books is what the folks at Rigler Creative  are doing — they’re launching a new book review web series on YouTube aimed at 11-16 year olds (the lower spectrum of a YA audience) called “Best Friends Book Club“. Each week, they air a 3-5 minute segment featuring four teenage hosts who review a YA book in an informal talk show setting. The series is syndicated on Tumblr and Wattpad.
I checked out the first episode, which premiered today. The four teenage hosts–who are way cooler than I was at their age–reviewed The Journeys of John and Julia, which you can actually read here on Wattpad (it’s also available in print and as an ebook on Amazon). I have yet to read the book, but did notice that each chapter has a little video embedded in the page. I didn’t even know you could do that on Wattpad!
Anyway, here is the first video — it is adorable.
Long story short, if I self publish, I won’t be able to do this stuff…at least not without paying someone to do it for me. I lack the technological know-how, and frankly, the time, to put something this elaborate together. The other big issue for me is that I really want an editor from one of the Big Six publishing houses to rip into my book. I feel like traditional publishing would get Paladin to the next level.
I have no immediate plans to take action either way. I feel like I should at least get rejected before I make the decision to go the self publishing route. For now, I’ll just sit back and wait…and wait…and wait.

11 Comments

  1. Figure I’ll reply here instead of PMing in Wattpad for a change :-p I say continue to be patient. Yes, it sucks to edit *thinks of all the multitudes of status she’s made about editing herself* but think of how much you’re learning by doing it.

    It is true that your first book isn’t your best *looks her first and dies a little* BUT I still think you really have something with Paladin and that’s worth giving it an honest shot. Obviously I’m no expert but your first is loads better then many peoples best. Why not see if something can be done with it?

    You have beta readers so that will help you clean up and clean up. Obviously that’s still not on the level of a real editor would get you but again, you’ll still learn from it.

    What you can do is continue to try and traditionally publish, but start getting some of your eggs in a basket for self publishing. Like I said, I’ll help with the cover if you trust me to give it a go. The only issue is the stock images.

    I’m rambling now.

    I’d say give it at least a year of submitting to both agents and publishers. Chances are it won’t be a big six (or is it the big 5 now?) but a smaller company to get you started is feesable. They might not have the marketing backing of a big boy but if you do the research you can find one that will have some, at least I think you could. Obviously I haven’t done much yet in the research :-p Editing will kill me. I swear it!

    Okay, I’ll stop rambling now.

    Peace!

    Prisim

    1. I caught a gummy bear in the wild! *Snaps pictures and then sets free*

      I know you’re right, but I’m soooo impatient. I think I might just need to put the editing scissors down and step away from it for a few weeks. It makes me anxious.

      In my fantasy world, I would get Mathia Arkoniel to do a custom painting for my cover (I lust over her stuff all the time..looook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/MathiaArkoniel), but I’ll have to commission her for a painting after I win the lotto…I might need to pick your brain about the stock photo thing at some point.

  2. Ack! You’ve taken my picture. Dammit, now my soul is yours :( *sad bunny*

    Walking away is never a bad idea honestly. You come back with a fresher eyes. Is Paladin in the hands of any Beta’s at the moment? If so, perfect excuse to walk away. Let them do their read through and when they’re done go back to it.

    And you know where to find me both on Wattpad and facebook so pick my brain all you want! At least my degree would be worth something haha

  3. Wow, add backstory. That’s probably a first haha But take a break while it’s in their hands and come back to it after their done.

    Is this a sign I’m insane, posting in two places to the same person? Yes, yes I think it is. WOOHOO! I’m insane!

  4. Well done on doing all the research, that’s the first step, which is always the longest and hardest!

    My opinion on the matter:

    1) Have a profile on all the main Social Media Networks.

    2) Consolidate your social media using platforms like ‘Social Oomph’ (Google it, somewhere I read that it updates all your social media profiles and all at once).

    3) You’re essentially opening a business – get a lawyer and offer him/her 10% of profits, they will make sure you’re successful as the more successful you are the more money they make.

    4) Definitely also have it in eBook format.

    5) Pardon my ignorance, but what’s wrong with the Cover from Wattpad?

    6) Alternatively, get a new young designer who is looking to make a name and ask them to do it for you at a reduced rate. In fact, you can do this with a few other sections where you’re worried about the price of things. There’s nothing wrong with bartering – offer them a book too and of course put their names there in the first pages. I mean look at the exposure you’re offering by association to you.

    1. Hey Jade – all solid advice. I’ll have to look into Social Oomph; I’m not familiar with that tool.

      If I self pub I will definitely go the epub route. I’m not sure I’ll do hard copies, because that’s what costs money…but I suppose I could do it on an on demand basis.

      RE: the cover…I’m pretty sure my cover is illegal (ha), but as long as I don’t ask the person who made it for me I can continue to live in ignorance. Most cover makers on Wattpad use or manipulate images that the original artist may not have given consent to. The cover is fine for a social media site, but I couldn’t ever put it into production without confirming with the original artist that I have their consent to do so (my guess is they’d ask for compensation, but who knows).

  5. Great post. May I add my own bit of unsolicited advice? :) I don’t believe in all those so-called truths like “your first book is crap.” If we listened to all the naysayers (and the hundred blogs that re-post them), none of us would ever put our work out there. Bad advice can go viral just like anything else. Over 2 million people are clearly glad you put your work out there. Nothing and no one, no matter how “authoritative” the voice, should stop you from pursuing your dreams.
    Laurie Viera Rigler

    1. Hi Laurie – Wow, thanks so much for reading this post! Very cool of you.

      Advice from an expert is never unsolicited, in my book. And thank you for the encouragement :) I have to remember to be patient with this whole process…not my strong suit!

  6. Hey Sally, (sorry I’m like totally checking out all your pages and commenting tons, that’s what fans do I guess lol) anyways about the self publishing and all the red tape to get to a publishing house, thanks for bringing to light in detail i actually was not entirely aware of the whole process and taking as how writing and publishing a book before I die is in my bucket list its good to know.

    Also I’m not sure if you have a publishing house working with the book yet or if the agent is just editing and it’s not for sure but if you need tips, advice, or even help with the whole aspect of promoting the book I would love to help, I’m a marketing major so promoting (online/offline) things is basically what i do!
    Well, I’m gonna go check out first kisses now. Take care and keep writing :) -Albadorato (from Wattpad)

    1. Don’t apologize – all of your comments have been awesome and thank you so much for all the support! There’s definitely a lot of red tape, but I’m feeling like I’m on the right path now that I have a literary agent and my rewrite is underway.

      Just an agent atm – until the rewrite is complete, he’s not going to start shopping the manuscript to publishing houses. I work in PR, so a related field to marketing obviously – definitely would love to talk shop and pick your brain when I get closer to getting read to promote the story!

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