A Very Different Episode of Writing Is A Bad Habit: Cashing In Some Chips a.k.a. An Open Request For Insights On Community And Promotion

For the few of you who have followed this blog over the years, you have seen the reviews I have written (almost a hundred now!) and the piles of writing articles and authorial musings I have put to electronic paper.  I hope by now I have established my desire to help out my fellow authors and writers, to try to provide services to help them improve and thrive, and be an over-all stand-up guy.  As this is a Wednesday, I would normally be adding to that pile of work with some fresh insights on writing.  Today, though, as the title indicates, is a very different Writing Is A Bad Habit, because I feel the need to turn the normal purpose of this series on its head.

You see, these past weeks post-Pensacon have filled me with a strange sort of anxiety and frustration.  Oh, the convention wasn’t the cause precisely, as it is part of a larger series of events, but it serves as a final note of sorts to my crisis of confidence.  Pensacon was 24 plus hours of continual pavement-pounding, people-talking, and pushing myself as hard as possible to the local audience.  Pictures, features, panels, interviews, even use as an example of hard-hitting promotional excellence, I threw my all into it, much as I have been trying to amplify my own efforts to ‘put myself out there’ in general since late last year.  Breaking my own natural cocoon, I’ve tried to engage with other book bloggers, push myself out there, and redouble my community efforts with more reviews and branching out into cheap editing services.

In a logical world, hard work reaps rewards.  My one day of work at Pensacon 2015 led to a huge spike in sales and blog activity.  This year, three days of the same effort did nothing.  Despite doing everything I could think of and taking every suggestion of my fellows, I sold nary a volume, even free books.  I feel as if I have some fundamental misunderstanding of how the book-buying world works or a total failure to grasp the basic concepts of self-promotion or advertising.

So the ultimate point of this week’s Very Different Writing Is A Bad Habit is to try to cash in part of the goodwill I have been trying to build with you all and ask for help in understanding the puzzle.  This is something of an open discussion, as I understand it’s hard to give advice without information, but I want questions asked and advice given.  Any insights or thoughts or wild guesses as to what I can do to improve my image, reach readers, and promote myself are welcome.

I know, from my many hours of reviews and reading, that my writing has the quality and the content to be successful.  I can only assume the problems are elsewhere and I ask for your help in finding those problems.

Regardless of the success of this discussion, rest assured we will be moving back to our usual writing article next week.  Thank you for your patience and, hopefully, for your help.


J. B. Garner


  1. I wish I could help you, but I find myself just as puzzled as you. I think promos like bookbub or whatever might help, but that costs a fortune and is hard to get into. Personally, I find myself in a similar situation. I have no one on my mailing list, so I thought that offering a free book would help. I wrote a post announcing it, which got views and even a few likes, I posted on facebook in and in forums, and people saw it, and some even clicked on the link. I was excited and hopeful. But at the end of the day, not a single person signed up to my mailing list. I’m at a loss, and I’m worried that once I release my first novel (which will likely be before the end of the month), I’ll be met with crickets as well.

    1. I understand and sympathize. Maybe we’ll both get lucky and find some answers here.

      The one big positive for me, regardless of how this pans out in the end, is that I at least have given the stories in my head life. Even if my career aspirations crash and burn financially, I can take some heart in that the words themselves are preserved and put out there.

  2. Promotion: Writing is one of the Fine Arts, not a craft. The art marketplace differs from the craft marketplace, and the formula that works to sell a craft won’t sell a work of art. As producers of written art, we need to learn from our creative cousins in representational and abstract art (drawing, painting, sculpture), who form cooperative galleries that make individual artists more discoverable by attracting patrons to purchase from their group. The corresponding effort for Indie authors would be a cooperative bookshop, but whereas computers can now effectively provide for such collaboration, Indies seem to be unwilling to form the kind of community that other artists have employed for a very long time with great success.

    Community: Since 2012 I’ve been posting on the kinds of helpful topics that seem to get other bloggers dozens of comments, hundreds of likes, and thousands of follows, but which for me generate little response. Two blogs I’ve started with the express purpose of helping authors whom I’ve found lamenting the lack of support for their style and genre of writing, have met with indifference: one writer who was quite vocal in this respect, expressed skepticism that any such collaborative effort would have any positive results, and declined to participate.

    I have come to the conclusions that unless Indie authors have large numbers of supportive friends and family members who are willing to buy their books and actively promote them via social media, they are not likely to get anywhere with their own attempts at self- and product promotion; and that most Indie authors prefer to grouse about their lonely lot in life, rather than to band together in think tanks or collaborative promotional efforts. Despite our having the technology that could bring us collective success, the reputation of being an isolated struggling writer in a garret apparently has more enduring allure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s