Indie author’s little victories and major puzzles

It is an especially satisfying feeling when something you consider significant but unattainable finally happens. After more than seven thousand copies of “Neglected Merge” were downloaded for free and sold in the fourteen months after its release, the magic number of 50 reviews/rates has finally been reached.

Many book promotion gurus claim that the moment you hit the magic fifty, the almighty – and oh so formidable for indie authors – Amazon algorithms will fall in love with your book and everything will start spinning.

I hasten to add that we don’t have to run to MythBusters to check this theory. I’ve already asked the Writing Community on Twitter to share their experience with this book promotion “urban legend”. Alas, those who got over fifty reviews for their books on Amazon didn’t notice any noticeable stirring in Amazon algorithms’ interest in their literary products.

And still, I won’t hide that it feels deeply satisfying to see “50” next to the yellow stars – yet another squirm-inducing factor for indie authors.

I’ve just had a free book promo for “Neglected Merge” – by the way, book two “Tangle of Choices” & book three “Shifting Directions” of the Neglected Merge trilogy are on sale on Amazon (UK and US) until June 17 for 0.99 eachand as it always happens after such campaigns, I feel absolutely drained.

Browsing the web, I came across Jess Walter’s quote: “There was a time when self-promotion was considered so verboten, especially for authors,” and it got me musing over it.

I wonder why it feels so gut-wrenching to promote your work. I know it is like this for many authors. It’s not because we aren’t proud of the books we’ve written. Proud, not in a way “this is the best book ever written, and everyone should love it”, but rather in a way that we put our heart and soul into our stories. For us, they are more than a chance to become famous or make money or get recognition as a writer from critics. For a writer, their books are the fulfillment of the whole essence of their being. If someone felt all their lives that there was a story inside them and finally wrote it, the feeling of accomplishment it brings is incomparable to anything else that brings satisfaction and pleasure.

According to Joanna Scott: “The past is full of examples of renegade writers who were overlooked in their time not only because their work didn’t fit neatly into potted categories but also because they avoided the self-promotional efforts of their peers”, and, in a way, it contradicts what Jess Walter says.

I read quite a lot of biographies of famous people – not only authors – and indeed, it is exactly as Joanna Scott points out. Those who added their own promotional efforts to their publishers/agents work on getting the public acquainted with them got more attention. Of course, the methods they chose to do weren’t always praise-worthy. To be honest, I don’t have it in me to provoke a negative reaction, even if it brings recognition.

I wanted to write “even if nowadays it brings recognition”, but then I thought about famous people from the past and what they are known for to us, many years after their death. Well, if we look at it objectively, so many of them are famous not only for achievements in their field – art, science, etc. The most talked-about and remembered individuals did something scandalous or lived their lives in a scandalous manner in general, and that’s why their names haven’t disappeared from people’s memory.

Still, we have to stay in the present. And the reality is such that with the wide opportunities that had opened for writers with the development of self-publishing platforms, self-promotion has become an integral part of the deal. As I wrote in one of my previous posts – “Five things that newly-minted authors can get shocked about” – without promotion, your book will disappear in the wilderness among millions of other books and it will feel like it got sucked into the bottomless pit. And who would want that to happen?

I’m taking a break from active promotion for the summer. I do hope that more of those seven thousand people who downloaded/bought my books will read the Neglected Merge series.

I also hope that they’ll enjoy living through a couple of decades with Tauria, Doron, quirky Alfred (my favourite human character), optimistic Byrne, confused about complexities of life Abelia, magnificent Tarvos (my favourite animal character), and others, who have long ago become more than characters, more than lines, words, letters, having transformed into real people with whom I’d gone through thick and thin, and who will remain in my heart until death shall us part – and probably even longer.

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