Keep On Experimenting

One of the advantages, the liberties, of playing the self-publishing game is that you can do it all in your pajamas. Also, that you have nigh limitless options to flail your work around the world. All kinds of formats, from audio to ebook to printed paper to, well, those are mostly it. I’m sure there will be more in short order. However, there are an equally massive number of retailers and ways to market your material; from hawking it on the side of the road to spending thousands on ads praying that bored Facebook scanners will inadvertently click on your product instead of the video of the cute dog.

If you read various message boards, pay attention to Facebook groups, or otherwise dip your toes into the frightful chaos of marketing, you’ll come across people expounding on this or that technique of the day. This isn’t even about writing – pretty much any topic of interest has its secret-spouters.

Ultimately, though, the person that has to weed through all of that and decide what to do is you. And you have constraints, be they time, money, or the patience of the police knocking on your door.

When you have all these choices, there are a few things that I try to do to decide which activities to try first:

  1. Simple and Cheap – if something takes a small amount of time to set up and has little to no cost, like uploading a version of a book at a new vendor. The returns are variable, but the small investment makes those returns infinitely greater.
  2. Newness – This is harder to quantify, but if I happen upon a strategy or a new way to reach potential readers, even if it’s trickier, I’ll take a long look at it. Getting in at the start of new trends (like Instagram, or Facebook ads) gives you great visibility at small cost, even if the methods aren’t all there yet.
  3. Proven Effectiveness – OK, if something works, then it works. Bookbub, the giant email marketer, is a great example of this. Getting one of these deals usually gives your sales a huge boost (I’ve never had one). However, it’s very much a known quantity. You’re not going to find an “exceptional deal” with these options, but you’re rarely risking anything.

Once I’ve run through those, I’m generally left with ones that are far more work intensive (which suggests the time could be better spent writing/editing/designing) or cost-prohibitive, so expensive that any return is, compared to other methods, not worth the effort. So whenever you’re looking at trying new things for your business/book/cat entertainment needs, make sure to determine what criteria are most important for you. That way you’ll keep yourself focused on the activities that are really worth it.

Sidenote: The Mac made it back alive and well after some serious internal surgery. Apple covered under its one-year warranty that literally expired on the day I brought the computer in. $550 saved by a stroke of luck. Whew.

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