Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Importance of Fans

I am by no means some writing guru. Anyone who has read this blog before (The few of you) will know this. I can certainly direct anyone who wants direction to several excellent blogs from people I'd consider my gurus, to the extent that having gurus is useful and healthy. But that's not what this blog is about.

This blog is about something I've come to learn about self-publishing online. Something that I don't think people new to the world of self-publishing ever really get told. It gets lost amid all the torrents of information that you struggle to absorb. A fanbase. All the self-publishing authors I've talked to had a fanbase when they started. Some had massive amounts of fans, some, like me, probably only had fans numbering in the tens. It doesn't matter.

The commonality is there. All the self-pub authors I talk to on Darknest, for example, had fanbases before they started publishing on Amazon and Smashwords and all the other places you can publish. Some larger than others, but the mere fact that they had people that were aware of them before they started publishing, people who loved their stories, helped.

This is the blog entry of an author who failed self-publishing: Blog.

It's quite a long read, but I think it's illuminating. Someone without friends in the self-publishing world, without online fans (Thank you Darknest and Hentai-Foundry for mine) failed in a competitive genre with fairly cluttered and bad covers. Shocker. This post isn't to harp on about the importance of good covers, though.

It's actually to say that I finally found out what fanfiction is really good for. It improves your writing as you do it, sure. But if you keep at it, you build a fanbase. However small, those fans will help you with the tiniest of kicks in self-publishing, and those tiny kicks are sometimes all you need to rake in a few sales from non-fans, who may then decide to buy the next thing you publish. And the next. Which will bring in a few more people, who'll also buy... You see where this is going.

Starting from absolute zero, you don't have this. So, what's the little bit of advice I can throw into the self-publishing pot? Spend a little time building a fanbase. Find a site to upload your stuff to where people can and will read it. Sure, you won't be making any money off it, but when you do start self-publishing, your fans will be worth more than the 2 sales you'd make a month otherwise.

And to the few fans I have that read this blog: Thanks for sticking with me for so long. I'm astonished to learn, in the occasional email or private message on Darknest, of people who have read my stories and waited for more for years. And you keep waiting. I still can't really get over the fact that -I- have fans.

Thank you.

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