News, commentary, and fiction by Barb Hendee, co-author of the Noble Dead saga (www.NobleDead.org); author of the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and more.

The Agony of Marketing and Publicity

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When Dhampir was published in 2003, I was clueless about how anything worked in the publishing industry. We were paid a $6,000 advance, and the book just sort of "came out." It had a good cover and a fun-looking story line, and the powers-that-be at both B&N and Borders ordered quite a few copies to stack up on tables at the front of bookstores--and a lot of people still visited bookstores. J.C. and I did no publicity. We had no idea what publicity even was. A 10,000 copy first printing sold out in one week. By week three, the novel was in its third printing (and 35,000 copies had sold). I had heard many writers express sadness over never getting their books "seen" and I had no idea of what they were speaking. I never had to market or publicize. We were working on Thief of Lives, and all I had to do was write. I loved it.

Seventeen years later, I look back at my ignorant younger self and shake my head. I hate marketing and publicity. Over the years, I've done it, but I hate it.

With the The Hunters' Girl, I decided to self-publish the series for
several reasons. I actually had some fun with the whole process of having it copy-edited, working on the cover, and helping with the layout--and then uploading it myself. At the end of this process, I thought, "Okay. I can do this."

But now . . . I'm in the publicity stage, working like crazy to let anyone know the book exists. According to Publisher's Weekly, in 2018, 1.68 million books were self-published on Amazon. The numbers have only climbed since then. How does one get a novel "seen" amid those numbers? Since the day the novel came out, I've almost nothing but try to get the word out and wave people in the direction of the book. I hate it. 
This morning, when I checked in, the novel was in the top 10,000 on Amazon--against everything--so, the things I'm doing are working, but it's no fun, and it goes against my nature.
I'd much rather be writing.

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