This weekend something unprecedented has happened. My lovely friends from Fuzzy Hedgehog Press dragged me out of my writing cave and convinced me that it's a good idea to go to SpoCon (you know me, I don't go anywhere). Moreover, they picked me up from home and drove me up all the way to Spokane and paid for my hotel and offered me one half of their table to sell my books. I mean, can people get any awesomer? Now, enter me. These past two weeks I've been freaking out because I was down to $500 on my Checking account and I had no idea how I would be making money, so I was getting ready to get a Kickstarter going, like I threatened you I would. But before I could start getting worried about that, a ghostwriting project dropped on my head. Suddenly I didn't need to do a Kickstarter anymore. However, it takes 2 weeks to get the copies of the books shipped from CreateSpace, and since I was low on money, I ordered for SpoCon as many copies as I could afford, trying to stay conservative: 20 of ROSEHEAD, 10 of Book 1 of SIREN SUICIDES and 5 each of Books 2 and 3. I thought, well, nobody will really buy any, I will have some left over when I come back.
What happened at SpoCon blew me out of my socks and my pants and bashed my brains.
I HAVE SOLD OUT OF ALMOST ALL BOOKS.
Except 4 copies of 2nd and 3rd SIREN SUICIDES and a few of BLUE SPARROW (which was a silly idea to bring, since it's a book of tweets for writers), every other book was gone before the end of the 2nd day. Actually, I sold my first book on the morning of the first day before SpoCon even opened. Right? Yeah, I know.
After I sold out, I started taking people's money on the promise that I will send them signed copies as soon as I get to Seattle and order more copies from CreateSpace. Guess what. People gave me money like no tomorrow. I mean, here is some strange lady yakking their ears off about her fantasy shit and how the fuck would they know if I'm even trustworthy?? I ran out of my business cards too, so I kept scribbling my name on scraps of paper out of a notebook. Then I ran out of paper and had to borrow paper. I had people write me their emails, names and addresses on this little notebook. And they did. And they kept giving me money. I have roughly calculated that I made $830 in three days. This is not a net number, because there is the cost of buying books, traveling, and all that beautiful stuff. Net I think will be about $250 or so. Still.
HOW CRAZY IS THAT???
Now, there are three things I want to tell you, so you can throw it in the faces of all those naysayers who told you that you can't do this and can't do that and bla-bla-bla.
1. Give your ebooks away for free. When people came up to the table, I would sell them on my paperbacks, and when they said they have no money and were ready to turn around (some did, especially teenagers), I told them that all of my ebooks are free. They always, ALWAYS (well, 99% always), turned back, and ended up either buying a paper copy or promising to tell their friends and to review my books and to suggest my books to their writer's group and more. So, while giving my books away for free, I KEPT MAKING MONEY. If you're still afraid to go this route, here is your proof that it works. Remember, my books are not enrolled in KDP (since I give them away for free on my site and I can't be exclusive with Amazon), therefore everything you see here is happening without the help of any algorithms, but purely thanks to people. Yes, just people and word of mouth.
2. Play the underdog. Don't try to appear like you're the fucking God of literature and everything you write is genius. Simply be real and humble and shy and adorable. People love that (like that's any news to you). I was honest with everyone and said what I honestly think about my trilogy and my 2nd novel (I consider my trilogy as 1 novel, really). And I honestly think that SIREN SUICIDES could be so much better, because I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, it was my 1st book, and so on. And I honestly told people (did I say 'honest' enough times?) that ROSEHEAD is funny and my better book, but it's also not perfect, dark and funny and twisty and bla-bla-bla, and people loved it. Lesson for you: pop your ego, please. Yes, I actually wrote a whole blog post about this, if you're inclined to read some more.
3. Have a ONE line pitch for your book. Please, please, please, come up with a hook introduction for your book. ONE line. ONE sentence. ONE phrase. Have I said ONE enough times? You have a few seconds to grab people's attention at any convention, or gathering, or reading, or whatever event. Even in the elevator, because everywhere you go, you meet people who could be your potential readers. Here are my pitches:
SIREN SUICIDES: Girl commits suicide, turns into a siren.
ROSEHEAD: A rose garden eats people.
At the end of the 2nd day I simplified the pitch for all my books with this simple statement.
I WRITE WEIRD SHIT.
After I got them hooked, I would usually add the seconds and the third sentences:
SIREN SUICIDES: Girl commits suicide, turns into a siren, discovers that her dad is a siren hunter. He then hunts her for the rest of the 3 books.
ROSEHEAD: A rose garden eats people. A girl and a talking dog investigate it like Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and it's like Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaiman on crack.
After this I usually would get people's attention and give them my open book and tell them to read the first page and tell me how awful it is or even punch me in the face. I always got a chuckle back and people TOOK THE BOOK AND READ IT. After they have read the first page, about 70% of the time they bought it. I literally made a sale to almost every single person who walked by the table, as long as I engaged them.
Is this enough incentive for you to give my approach a try? No? Okay, I understand. I will keep blogging here, to death, to prove to you that having your ebooks available for free is an advantage of getting your name out there. For example, right now ROSEHEAD is featured on Wattpad and it's getting wild traction. It's got 15,000+ reads, 500+ stars and 180+ comments. What are you waiting for then? Do it.
I will know if you didn't (I have special powers like that).