Although I have been writing since 2009, my actual literary journey started just a year and half ago and it has been going well since then. Before anything else, I want to make one thing very clear. I am a self-published author by choice and I chose to become one for mainly two reasons. One – I don’t write for money or fame, I only write for my charity and I can take it as a hobby or a serious venture as I like. Two – I have really worked hard in my entire life and I want to spend my latter half of life doing something meaningful that comes directly from the heart. I also want to have the freedom of steering my own ship as I like and don’t worry about anything else. And I am more than happy to declare that I have not yet even contacted one agent or publisher hitherto and I have no plans whatsoever of doing that as well anytime soon.
I know how important marketing is for any professions and books were no different. Especially to the new ones like me, it was paramount and I did nothing but only marketing for the last one and half year. Despite my experiences from my previous jobs, I knew almost nothing about books and had to start from the scratch. I needed some headway at the beginning and understandably paid services were obvious choice. Needless to say, there was abundance of choices, almost everyone was promising an instant bestselling status, and I had to remain cautious on selecting them. I did try almost a dozen or so and here is my true verdict and the reason why I felt that way.
As in every trade, the service providers were as willing and responsive as they possibly could at the beginning and every email was swiftly and politely replied. Thanks to internet, the whole world is interconnected and anyone can do businesses from one part of the world to others at any given time. All self-published authors can attest that social media is not only the main but also the only viable means of book marketing for many of us and social media has lot to do with our marketing strategy. Most of the ads I had bought were inevitably through social media and I got to join those special groups in their designated platform as it came with the package. After following those special groups for sometime, I knew something was not right and decided to investigate more in details which was much easier than I initially though. All I had to do was to read through the posts and comments left by fellow members and God, people really talked. My initial doubts were eventually justified and I was fully convinced that I was somehow not treated the same way as others. Why? The answer was right there in front of me from the very beginning and I needed sometime before I could see it.
As I come from Hong Kong/China, my Asian face did give it away from the very beginning and they had always taken me as a naïve or inexperienced guy, if not a fool, and that somehow changed their perspective towards me. The moment the deal was confirmed, they became complacent and took a rather relaxed approach. But what they didn’t know was I was already an experienced businessman with international connections and I could know right away when I got a raw deal. I had to dig in more, find out more about what the others were getting from the similar deal that I was buying and had to ask for it in an individual basis.
Here are some examples of how I got shortchanged by those unscrupulous and biased service providers from the West.
– My posts were deliberately ignored. I had to submit twice and particularly ask for it before my book was finally featured on their website as promised.
– One of the service provider guaranteed a money back policy if it failed to sell less than 842 books in a six months period but I only sold a dozen. I didn’t ask for money back but wrote to them anyway but no response.
– One company promised 500 book sales but I didn’t even manage to sell one. They didn’t even finish the press kit as promised in an entire month.
– One agency didn’t even include my book on the montage that was supposed to promote the genre it was making and had to ask for it. They only promote those books which were already in the bestselling list and I haven’t even seen my book being promoted for once within the last six months.
– I subscribed to a particular paid group but I had to stop at the end. It was like a group of elitist who would only talk, support and provides comments to certain circles of people only like a high school girls’ gang and won’t tolerate outsiders.
– The worst one was this particular one, who did only react when I asked for money back through pay pal, and eventually got my book promoted. But it was a completely wrong book as he intentionally did it for vendetta.
Of course, it was not all gloomed and doomed. I still managed to find some very nice, helpful and professional people along the journey and we have become good friends. I am certainly not going to name names here but if you still want know them, you can contact me anytime. As I am here to help new and indie authors, sharing information, good or bad, is good for all of us, and I am here to be helpful. I also write about my book marketing experiences on my blog in a regular basis and hope that they can be useful for other writers as well.
You might say, I am overreacting, but you won’t believe it unless you have experienced it by your own. Had I not been from Asia, I might have different things to say here. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not. But as far as I am concerned and you know, I always write from my heart and sadly, that is my reality.
Last but not least, most of those paid ads simply don’t work. The best way is always doing it by your own and perseveres until to the end. Remember, there is nobody in this world who knows your books better than you.
BTW, don’t worry about me! I have come a very long way since then. I do receive quite a substantial number of friend requests these days that I can afford to become even choosy sometime and don’t have to send any friend requests anymore. Isn’t that great?
TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com