Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keep the Momentum, guest post by author Martin T. Ingham

A writer's work is never done. Those of us who pursue a life weaving fiction of all sorts must accept this on several levels if we ever wish to succeed. Completing a novel and getting it published is only half the battle. Promotion is the other side of the equation, which can make or break you.

Self-promotion takes a lot of time when you don't have deep pockets. Time and money can be interchangeable in this aspect, as the more you can afford, the less you have to do on your own. The right internet ad might sell a thousand books, but it is liable to cost a thousand dollars in the process. Most of us don't have that kind of money to kick around, so we've got to improvise.

Creating new material is the writer's primary job, so in my opinion it's best to focus on that first and foremost. You need to have something new in the pipeline, so your readers will have something else to look forward to. From experience, I've learned that one story is not enough to land you a fan. It's enough to hook them, get them interested, but if you can't entice them with the prospect of more they'll lose interest. This is why writers must be prolific after they find initial success.

Promotion and creation aren't mutually exclusive, and it is possible to achieve both at the same time. One way is to write something related to your previously released works, a sequel or a short story spin-off. Draw readers in with hints and rumors about the new material. Post to a blog or a message board you frequent, telling people of your new project. This will stir interest in your existing stories, while encouraging you to create more.

Another good way to acquire readers is to give them "proof" for little or no cost. That was the impetus behind the online version of my latest release, West of the Warlock. During the editing process, the publisher offered me two different options; we could either sell it as a regular novel, using a single short story for promotional purposes, or we could release a significant portion of the book in serialized format online, for free. I chose the latter, because it will serve as a prime promotional tool while giving readers the option to buy the full product after they enjoy the freebies.

Though writers may instinctually abhor the idea of giving their work away, it is a necessity, and in this digital age the cost of doing that is minimal. Finding the right venue to display your work can mean the difference between selling stories and keeping them to yourself. Don't feel that you have to hide work until it sells. So long as you have something else in the works, it's okay to hand out full-length samples. Get it out there, and see what happens!

Martin T. Ingham is the author of numerous Science Fiction & Fantasy novels, including The Guns of Mars, Prisoner of Time, and The Rogue Investigations. His short stories have appeared in various print anthologies and online venues. Influenced by the greats of speculative fiction (Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, etc...) he utilizes his unique wit and wisdom to craft adventures for today's readers with a voice all his own. You can learn more about him, and his various works at his blog:

1 comment:

  1. Martin, thanks so much for the guest post and your thoughts on sharing work for free. Building an audience takes time, and to keep people following you, there has be something in it for them. Keep them intrigued with the freebies, they'll eventually buy the big stuff!