Well, maybe scam is putting it a bit strongly, but I somehow triggered the ‘give us your money, we have 850,000 contacts who want to buy YOUR book!’ ads before I even got any manuscripts to my e-publisher. I suppose it is possible that the advertisers might genuinely have hundreds of thousands of live contacts who do actively buy e-books.
Even so, I somehow find myself doubting that people who are looking for paranormal regency romances or who-done-it mystery novels or high-tech thrillers are going to take one look at the cover of my horse training manuals and decide ‘Oooh! I just have to try one of those for my light lunchtime recreational reading and I am going to tell all my friends!’
Not that I would mind if they did. People who ride do read recreationally, but I have to wonder how many members of such groups would be interested in anatomically considerate and ethologically appropriate horse training. My books are aimed at a very specific niche market that is a subset of the already small and specific niche market of people who read about horse training on electronic devices.
I tend to be cynical about the return from enormous mythical reading clubs who want me to pay people to buy my books. I suspect that someone slightly unethical out there has been collecting lists of names and e-addresses that might or might not be connected with actual real live people and they would be happy to find a fool to give them money. It just seems unlikely enough that I would be an idiot to pay for that remote possibility.
Self published authors do have to promote themselves. Since WordPress does a great job with viewing statistics, I can tell you that about 5-10% of my self- selected followers and connections who are already interested in my work read a blog within a couple of days of my posting it. More will read the blog over the next weeks or so, because people have busy lives and read when their life allows them to. Most of the posts then get a small but steady flow of views from referrals and searches.
What is in my favor is that Google at least occasionally programs their search engines so that they look for sites that have different takes on a subject rather than repeating those that have the same information over and over again. That has been to my advantage since I do have my own idiosyncratic way of seeing the world.
Other than subject matter, far as I can tell search engines look at the changes in the number of views, sales and reviews. Spikes in viewers, buyers and reviewers get higher up in the search results, which tends to increase the number of viewer, buyers and reviewers. Small but steady numbers of views and reviews does not get me high up in search engine results. I assume that my books will follow a similar pattern.
The e-publisher that I am working through does offer some publicity as part of their package. I am willing to pay them, because they have a vested interest in selling my books. They do not get a percentage if there are not any sales. Other than that, it looks to me like getting the most successful way to get word out about my books is relying on and appreciating referrals from real people with busy lives who find them worth recommending to other people of the similar mindsets.
So a big thank you to everyone out there who reads my blog, buys a book, and passes on the word!