I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I do, they usually don’t last longer than a month or even a week.  But this year, I decided to break from tradition and actually make a resolution: to try new methods to get people interested in my writing. This decision was partially spurred by my earlier decision to try and find a literary agent, as well as from reading a book on marketing and realizing that I needed to change my approach to how I was getting people interested in my fiction.

It’s a hard market out there. If what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe you should try something new.

So if you’re still here and you’re not thinking, “Oh, this is just one of those posts where he blathers on about what’s going on with him and his life”, then you’re probably thinking “How is he doing with that resolution, then?” and “How did he change his approach?”Well, I like to think that so far, so good. This isn’t the sort of resolution that can be objectively measured, like losing so many pounds or bringing your academic scores up. I could measure it by new followers, but not all followers read posts frequently, and only a small fraction are willing to spend money on my books. Book sales can be an indication, as can reads on Wattpad, but to base my success solely on those factors doesn’t seem the wisest course to me. And finally, building an audience is a long and arduous process. This blog took five years to gain as many followers as it has, after all. An audience of readers interested in my books might take even longer.

It’s easier to talk about what I’m doing different. One thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped doing ads through Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have of big budget like Coca-Cola’s advertising department, ads through those sites usually don’t translate into sales. At the very least, I’m saving money, and that’s never a bad thing.

Another thing I’ve been doing is related to my goal of trying the traditional route again and finding a publisher. That is focusing more on my niche, which is horror. I know, I’ve written and published a lot of sci-fi, but I prefer horror, and what I’m trying to do now is to write more horror stories and trying to get them published in magazines and anthologies. I’m still working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series, but I’m also devoting more time to horror. The hope is that I can produce enough work and get it published in magazines, building my name as all or a writer, thereby making myself a bit more attractive to horror fans and possibly literary agents and/or publishers.

As of yet, I’ve only submitted one short story, and I’m still waiting to hear back on it. But the next time I take a break from Full Circle, I plan to do some editing and writing, and see what happens. The goal here is to at least get a couple stories published by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).

A third method I’m trying, and this is already producing results, is I’ve started publishing through Wattpad again. Last month, I published my sci-fi novelette Gynoid on that website, and so far I’ve had a positive feedback. There’s been quite a few readers, a couple of votes (which is kind of like “Likes” for that platform), and even a comment or two. One of those comments was from someone who was very relieved to see a certain outcome for one of the characters. That particular comment made me feel very happy, because it showed that the story I wrote and the characters within had people invested.

Sure, Wattpad doesn’t make me any money, but it does give me an audience. And based on Gynoid’s success, I may publish more stories through the website in future, especially for stories that might have a hard time getting placed in magazines.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a multipronged approach, which is usually what is recommended for any big endeavor like this. Later this year, after I finished the first draft of Full Circle, I plan on editing Rose and shopping that around to agents. Rose really represents not only my growth as a writer, but it is a prime example of the niche I want to write for, so I feel that’s the best novel to shop around to agents and publishing companies. I’m also considering different social media platforms to try out, like Goodreads and Reddit (I know one person who is very active on one of those sites, so I may ask her for advice). If it can work, anything’s on the table.

For now though, I’m just focusing on focusing on my niche and finishing Full Circle. Any resolution that is to be successful takes time, proper planning, and patience. I want this to go well, so I’m not going to rush any of the steps I’m taking to further widen my audience. Will any of it work? Tough to say. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I like to think that this new approach will eventually yield results.

And if you are interested, I’ll give an update in a couple of months or at the end of the year, and let you know how I’m doing. In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on expanding my audience, or places I can look for an agent/publisher, or places that I could potentially publish my stories, let me know. If they work out, I’ll credit you in any post I write about it.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so wish me luck. And thank you, as always, for supporting me as I work hard on becoming a great horror novelist.

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Comments
  1. I think it’s good that you’re finishing your Reborn City series because it will show the agents and publishers that you can commit to a longterm project and finish it. If a publisher ends up liking your stuff and you hit a “wow” factor with their readers, they’ll want more of your stories. It’s also good you are on social media. From the way you hold yourself on a professional and optimistic level, I think it also makes you more desirable. No agent or publisher wants to worry about you coming back and badmouthing them at some point. The fact that you don’t do it right now when it comes to other people is a definite plus.

    Have you heard of the book “Write To Market” by Chris Fox? He discusses strategies you can use to better tailor your book to your ideal market without sacrificing what you love. In a nutshell, it’s about studying the top selling indie books in your genre (and subgenre) that rank between #11-20 in the categories you’d like to hit. Then you look at common tropes those books focus on. For example, if you notice most of the books have a down-on-his-luck hero, an inheritance with a string attached (this string being the big mystery), or an abandoned house/cabin in the middle of nowhere, then you can choose these elements to put into your own story. You’re not telling the same story those authors did. All you’re doing is taking the popular tropes and weaving your own story around them. I have found this method to be useful with my own books if I remember to include those tropes into the description of the book. He also suggests reading reviews on the books and seeing why readers loved it (so you know what your audience wants) and why they hated it (so you know what to avoid putting into your book). If there’s a conflicting review, he says to go with the one with the most “helpful votes”. Books that have hundreds of reviews are better to do this with. I think these methods could help with finding a publisher or agent, too, because their goal is to appeal to the widest readership possible.

    You’re right about it being a slow process in finding an audience. As long as you’re moving forward, that’s what counts.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth. And I might look into that book. Just one question: how do you find out the most popular books in your genre/sub-genre? Are there sources for indie authors like that?

      • In my case, I searched out the top selling books in historical romances. I went to the Top Paid 100 on Amazon. Then I narrowed my search to Regency, Victorian, and Western. From there, I checked out the books, specifically their descriptions. When I exhausted those lists, I checked the Also Boughts. I have been doing this off and on since 2012. I’m not sure if Chris Fox’s book was out at that time or not, but his book helps to narrow down the progress much more than I ever did on my own.

        I should add, I don’t always choose the common tropes (or elements). Some storylines will never appeal to me. For example, the theme of a hero marrying or seducing the heroine as a way to get revenge on her brother or father is very popular.. Another popular Regency trope is a rake who is happy to go from one lady to another until he meets the heroine who manages to convince him to change his ways. I see these two themes a lot in the top selling Regency books, and the authors who manage to write these well are making way more than I do. But those two tropes are not my cup of tea, so I don’t write them. Does this mean I am losing sales? Probably. When I did a boxed set with the authors who use these elements, the readers hated my book but loved the others. So obviously, their audience is not my audience.

        There’s always a balance between doing a story you can get fully passionate about and writing for a particular market.

        Sorry for the ramble.

      • I know those tropes. I’m not against them, but I will admit it takes A LOT to make them appealing (*cough* Lucifer on Fox *cough*).
        I’ll have to try that Amazon tactic sometime. I’m not sure I’ll follow suit with the tropes–I’ve always been one to follow the beat of my own drum, for better or for worse–but it’s something to try. At the very least, it’d be a good way to scope out the competition.

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