A little luck goes a long way

I was reading a post yesterday on J.A. Konrath’s blog from guest author, Jon Merz, about his experiences with self-publishing. It’s an interesting read, so I suggest checking it out even if you aren’t interested in self-publishing yourself, http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-post-by-jon-f-merz.html. For the better part of a year, Jon’s books floundered with poor sales. Then, in the beginning of the year, a fortunate, and unplanned event happened. Barnes&Noble put the 99 cent version of his thriller, Parallax up on their cheap/good reads ad. A whole bunch of people suddenly became aware of his book (not his most recent one) and suddenly, he began selling, not only that one, but others he had put up previously. Life was abruptly good once again. Perhaps it is the start of long term momentum for Jon, and I wish him every success.

Publishing is swamped in content. The availability for writers to put up work, any work, for the public to consume has grown exponentially over the past couple of years with Amazon, Smashwords, and the like. There’s some good stuff to be found, as well as a lot of drek. For those stories that deserve notice, it is growing harder and harder to be found in that sea of books. You can blog, do signings, and a million other things, but nothing compares to getting your book put before the eyes of thousands of readers at once. If you have the money for it, and most of us don’t, you can pay for ads in places where readers notice books. This can help, but it’s not a guarantee. You have to have written something worth reading. This is always the bottom line, by the way. Nothing else matters if at first the story isn’t worth reading.

So, when thousands of writers are trying and doing the same things, trying to draw the attention of readers, who can in no way sift through the millions of titles available out there, you have to hope for a little luck more often than not. I know I am. I’ll have decent distribution for my book through Kensington, but like many debut authors, the marketing department will not be tossing much money my way with advertising. They simply can’t afford to. Too many books, and a certain, small percentage with profitable expectations need to get the bulk of the dollars because, well, publishing houses need to make money in order to stay in business. That’s just the way it is, and I’m fine with that. I have to do my best to get the word out, keep writing good stories that readers will want to read, and hope for a little luck, the right words in the write place at the right time. Many successful writers have achieved their success this way. I hope to be one of them. Luck is part of this game, and all you can do is keep writing and try to maximize your potential for luck to find you.

Take care and have a great day. Happy reading/writing everyone!


3 responses to “A little luck goes a long way

  1. A couple of weeks ago I put up a free short story on Smashwords and I was surprised by the large number of downloads I received. It was also kind of frustrating since the free lookers only got directed to my other pieces in small numbers. I’m not quite sure where to go from here, but I have considering giving everything I self-publish a free run for a few weeks before I attach a price tag.

    Best of luck with your writing.


    P.S. Konrath’s blog is definitely fun to read.

  2. Very interesting post, Jim, thanks. It’s a strange irony that to give something away, or to market something very cheaply, can sometimes be more lucrative than to ask top dollar. As an example I’ll mention a new movie, The Social Network. The creator of Facebook put a lot of work into this site where people could meet and have fun but with no thought of making a profit. It was all free for anyone to become involved. He eventually became one of the world’s youngest billionaires.