Unfortunately, my self-publishing battle plan gets thinner the deeper I look into it. Of course I’m going to get the best cover I can to help with click-thrus. My cover has a picture of the Shroud of Turin, and is a little reminiscent of The DaVinci Code. I can’t market to DaVinci Code people as they wouldn’t dig my worldview. I’d like market it as a reverse DaVinci Code (only 17 years later), but there is no existing market for that, and the book didn’t turn out like that in the end anyway, as religious mystery thriller isn’t my genre. So here’s the paradox. To sell books, your supposed to write in a genre with demand. However, that motivation strikes me as too profit-driven. I know there’s an argument that says why write if nobody is reading your books, but on the flip side, why write if you aren’t passionate about what you’re writing? I wanted to write a book that didn’t exist, that I wished did exist, and that’s what I did. But because this type of book didn’t exist before, there is no preexisting genre into which it fits. Ideally the book becomes popular and creates its own genre (apologetic fiction?), but that is a once in a generation occurrence, and a pretty daunting prospect for a new/nobody author.
Back to the Battle Plan. There’s an apologetics podcast I listen to that has an interview format, and I plan to ask the podcaster if he’s interested in interviewing me. His guests are way bigger than me, and they are subject matter experts rather than fiction writers, but I’m hoping for the best. Other than that one, I’ll be reaching out to podcasts that interview unknown fiction authors, which I’m guessing have pretty small followings. If I were writing in a popular genre, like romance, there are influencers (podcasters and bloggers) who can fall in love with your book and make your career with one positive review. If there is anyone like that in the genre I’m going to put my book into (Christian Speculative), I don’t know who it is. One problem is that Christian Speculative is not a going concern, but a bucket for two or three popular authors: Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti (who almost never writes anymore), and Davis Bunn. I believe there is a market for this genre, but this audience doesn’t know it (the audience itself) exists yet, perhaps because the right books haven’t come along to congeal these people and create this market.
At least these handful of Christian Speculative authors exist, because in the age of granular Internet advertising, one can directly target these authors’ readers with ads. Ads are tough, though. People don’t like ads, and this is more the case with fiction than with non-fiction, because with fiction it’s harder to convince the reader you can meet her need, because the need your meeting isn’t as well-defined as some of her non-fiction needs (like how to self-publish and market a book, for example). Amazon ads seem most promising, because your prospective readers are there to spend money, and some of their ads don’t look like ads, but blend nicely with the ‘also boughts.’ Even so, the vast majority of testimonies I read are from people losing a ton of money on ads. And even the guys with the ‘how to make money advertising on Amazon’ courses say you have to have written a deep series before this will work, because Amazon auctions their clicks between advertisers, and they look at the long-term effect of the click. If a click leads to a buy of a book in a 12-part series, then that click could lead to 11 more purchases, as opposed to zero more in my case. So I’ll have to overpay for ads because I’ll be going up against prolific writers in the Amazon ad auctions. Then I’ll have to hope that I can target the right audience, pick the right cover, and have the right summary and reviews to convert the click into a buy.
That covers the podcast and ad plans for now. Next I’ll write about using social media (or lack thereof in my case), blogs, and more about podcasts.