Where I’m Coming From 3: Son of The Wherening

  • A couple of years ago, I read a column (I believe in Salon, but I haven’t been able to find it since) about the success of Hugh Howey’s Wool, which was a self-published Internet sensation before it was taken up by a traditional publisher. The article looked at all of the traditional ways he marketed the book (focusing largely on social media, as all of the publishing advisers advise), and came to the conclusion that, for the most part, they didn’t really help him sell many books.


    Given this, you would be right in asking how Wool became the sensation that it was. Well. Of the first few readers of the novel, many went on to sing its praises to their social networks. What followed was a kind of snowball effect, where people who had read the book on the recommendation of others then passed along their recommendation of the book to the people they knew. And, they told two people. And, they told two people. And…


    Can you doubt the power you have as a reader of self-published and indie books?


    Hoping for the snowball effect is not a good promotional strategy, of course. On the one hand, finding the 10 or 20 people to read the book initially who will start the snowball rolling is a matter of luck; it’s not something you can plan for. For another thing, it’s not something an author can control: the snowball of positive attention may grow and grow, but it can also peter out before it reaches a critical mass (market). The limitations of the snowball effect mean you probably won’t be hearing much about it from writing coaches in the future; it’s hard to sell services to writers if you admit that their success will, to a large extent, be a matter of luck.


    However, there is something we can do: encourage readers to give us their support. Buying our books is a good start, of course. But, even beyond that, if you read a book by an indie or self-published author that you really love, tell your networks! Tweet it! Post about it on Facebook! Pin the cover to Pinterest with a note explaining why. You will be helping out somebody who has given you several hours of pleasure (and how many people in your life do that?), and if your friends share your taste, they will probably get a lot of pleasure out of the book, too. Not only that, but if you help the author do well, she will be able to write more books that will give you further hours of pleasure in the future.


    Everybody wins.


    Much more than established writers, indie and self-published writers live and die by word of mouth. And, honestly? I want to live!


1 comment
  • Diana Cachey likes this
  • Diana Cachey
    Diana Cachey Ah the snowball effect. And Luck. Don't you hate when that doesn't happen? I am convinced that we just have to keep trying new things until something clicks. But we can't just write a good book & sit there & wait for it. That is the myth that all non-wite...  more
    January 12, 2015

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