Dateline: somewhere in the American Midwest.
Dirty (and smelly) East and West Coast Liberals make fun of the Midwest, calling it “The Flyover States” or derisively referring to it as “The Real America”. Or, in the case of self-satisfied Canadians, trying to coin a new phrase for it like “The Land of Cheese and Jesus”.
But in reality, there are many wonderful people in the Midwest, people who are more than willing to try out eBooks from strange new writers and maybe even leave a nice rating and/or review. I’m sure there are people in California and New York and even Delaware who are also giving self-publishing authors a fair shake, but I don’t want to talk about anyone who wears a sports coat with blue jeans.
Somewhere in this I have a point. My reviews and ratings are starting to look better than before, and I’m starting to feel better about the possibility of reaching an audience of readers. I feel like there’s some potential here.
But I’m still not close to critical mass, or even understanding what critical mass is or why people keep yapping about it. I’m getting my short stories out there, but I’m missing out on a key ingredient: word of mouth.
The occasional reader might find one of my stories and they might download it for free or even (gasp) pay for it. They may even enjoy it enough to read some of my other work; from the numbers I do have, that seems to be the case often enough to make me less prone to sorrow-fueled McChicken binges.
But those readers aren’t out telling their friends about me. At least I don’t think they are. A few times people might “Like” me on Facebook or post a nice review or rating, and I definitely appreciate that more than I’m about to tell some Internet strangers, but I don’t believe there’s any “hey… you need to check out this author I’ve been reading” involving me.
And that makes sense. Not just because people may not want to advertise their deep-seated love of cannibals and fiery apocalypses, but because it’s a little unusual to recommend something that you can read in a sitting.
You can see that with other authors (even real ones). Most science fiction fans know Asimov’s Foundation or Clarke’s 2001. Fantasy lovers know Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire or Jordan’s Wheel of Time. And it’s not hard to find fans who know the last few years of Hugo or Nebula award winning novels. But when you start getting into short fiction, it’s harder to name stories, even by big name authors. It’s hard to talk about a twenty-minute read with your friends. It’s really hard to review something that short.
In order to get people to start making referrals, I think I’m going to need something substantial enough to be referred.
So I’m pinning my hopes on my upcoming collection and novel series. If I can do a good enough job on putting those together, maybe I can have a couple things that are worth a few Midwesterners telling their friends about over a nice can of Pabst Blue Ribbon… assuming that there are people still drinking PBR in an unironic east-coast hipster fashion.
I get all excited when I think about the possibilities of self publishing, especially the idea that my success or failure is largely dependent on the work I put in. But obviously it depends just as much on the readers, and I am grateful for all of the support I received already.
And once I figure out a way to ensnare you readers even further… JACKPOT!