"If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sure Ralph, that sounds fair and logical, but how do you spread the word about your superior mousetrap? How do you convince them that it is truly superior?
Being a self-published author is a lot like being in the woods. No one knows how great your book is because you are alone in the wilderness and obscured by many, many trees. One's voice needs to carry out of the woods and into the ears of perspective readers. A self-published author is on their own for this task. Any help must come from people they hire or their friends and family.
When I started writing A Mage's Power, I didn't talk about it. No one knew about it. Thus, when the book was finished and I wanted to publish it, there was no one waiting at the door of my forest cabin, and no beaten path behind them. I delayed publishing for a year in order to build up my social network. I looked for authors on facebook, gathered twitter followers, started this blog, and joined organizations like the Independent Author Network and Book Tweeting Service. In this way I found a way to broadcast the virtues of my mousetrap, but many other people found it too.
If thousands of people are standing in the forest and yelling about their mousetrap, then no one is truly heard. It's like a cocktail party; one can hear a lot of voices but it's all indistinct chatter. Imagine every living thing in a forest vying for attention: every tree, bird, insect, mammal, and blade of grass calling to you. In the midst of all this is our mousetrap maker shouting at the top of his lungs. Who would hear him? Book reviewers.
I became a book reviewer to increase my own reach in the social media sphere, but in the process, I help other people stand out. I review their book and while reading it I share my thoughts about it on three social media platforms. I help others spread the news about their own mousetrap and whether or not its worth beating a path to their door. Its not so hard when two people are shouting the same message.
This leads to a third problem. It's called The Problem with Paid Reviews and Reviews, Not Endorsements. Sometimes I encounter books that have a handful of reviewers and they all sound the same. It's like the author paid a bunch of people to stand in a row and shout generic praise. There's nothing wrong with this when it's honest advertising. The problem is when the advertisers pretend to be reviewers. "Okay you have my attention, but how is your mousetrap superior to all the others?" A generic review might as well be empty because it can't answer this question.
For all that are here still reading, please allow me to direct you to my mousetrap: A Mage's Power