This was originally going to be a quick-one line post to Facebook, but then the more I thought about it the more I decided to try for a full-blown article. Anyway, here goes.
The frustrations of an Indie Writer are many, but chief amongst them is who to trust to help you promote your book. There are sites out there that post red-flags of certain agencies not to be trusted, but no lists detailing the good ones. Then I’ve seen a couple of articles where the opinion amounts to trust no one, they’re all crooks, do it all yourself. Of course this extremist viewpoint has its own problems, most of which amount to such an attitude being a guaranteed way to never sell more than 50 books in your entire lifetime.
Thus, you need someone to help you out, but they’re all cheats so trust no one, but you need someone, but… And thus the Indie Writer is stuck, hovering in neutral while Time marches ignorantly on that there’s a potentially great writer the world should know about. So, I got to thinking. You see, my problem is that I am a writer, a novelist, and a darned great one. I am not, however, a marketing or PR specialist. There comes a time when an author must realize that he cannot possibly wear all the hats. Do some marketing, find what works, yes, but you are not the PR specialist, nor should you be. If you were, you’d be marketing other people’s books. So for all those Indies out there I will share a line that my Mom used on me time and again whenever I’d start berating myself.
YOU ARE A WRITER!
Seems obvious but sometimes you just gotta hear yourself say it. So, where does that leave us with who to trust? Yes, there are plenty of bad marketing and consulting agencies out there, plenty of “publishers” that pretend to be good old fashioned publishers but are really self-publishing marketing hybrids that will be burying you in fees for nothing better than being a great tax write-off. But there are also some outfits that are legit, but the problem is that what they do may work for some authors but not all. That’s why if you search hard enough on the Net you’ll always find a complaint for every single agency on the planet. The trick is to get some skills in teasing out which is which and not just make the general assumption that they’re all crooks and time to crawl away in your hole. In that belief lies hopelessness, for you might as well give up writing completely then… or anything else for which you have a strong passion, for that matter.
Yes, there are a number of things you can do on your own, lots of things you can set up without help to at least get some self-published copies in your hands to show around. But there will come a time when you’ll have to face that one big question: “Am I a novelist or just a hobbiest? Am I serious about this?”. If you are serious then, when enough spare money becomes available, you have to take that step and go out and find someone else– someone who’s day-job is pushing books in people’s faces and getting them interested enough to buy them– to help you promote. Someone, some agency, that knows how to draw up a proper marketing battle plan for all fronts, then implement it themselves on your behalf (there are a couple of small-timers that will draw up a plan then hand it off to you to do yourself; waste of time, since you’ve already proven to yourself that you are not the marketing guy or you wouldn’t need them in the first place). You need to find someone who is at least as good at marketing as you are at crafting a story. Because that is what THEY do, just as writing is what YOU do.
So, how to find out which ones you can trust? That’s something I’m still puzzling out myself, but the Better Business Bureau is a good place to start. That will at least tell you how legit they are. Then a quick web search for their name will show any comments about them from past clients; any you find will all be negative, so it’s a matter of seeing how many just sound like the inevitably disgruntled, which agency has the fewest legit complaints. Then cross your fingers and see what your gut says.
The point is, if you want to get ANYWHERE, if you are serious about what you do, then you have to trust SOMEONE. Someone who can stand between you and the real world, or you will be forever doomed to anonymity. If you take a chance, then there is a small percentage that you might make it, but if you take no chance at all then the percentage of you making it is absolutely zero. And let’s remove another roadblock right now– it’s okay to start making big money from your efforts… After all, which would you rather do: make your living from a standard 9-5 job, or from the sale of your books? (And that way you can afford to write even more of what you love to do.)
By nature, I guess a number of writers have to be pretty conservative financially, not gambling, that sort of thing. And yet, we have chosen to make the biggest gamble of them all. We have put our entire future on the line, invested in ourselves with absolutely no hope of a return on that investment. All for a dream, a hope, a prayer.
You are a writer, that is what you do best. Now you need to find someone for whom selling your books is what HE does best. And in that I wish you good luck. Lashek. (Buy the full first Maldene novel, look up in the dictionary appendix in the back to see what this word means).