So I just woke up from this dream in which I was watching TV (the unlikelihood starts there) and it was a fashion show centered on these “green clothes designers” who were making brides’ dresses out of people’s trash. I sort of endured the woman in a wedding dress made of “dried thrown away spaghetti” (Sounds awfully scratchy.) And the dress of freeze-dried potato peels was kind of cute (you had to be there) but I woke up with a “right, that’s enough” at the wedding dress made of boil-in-the-bag-vegetables bags. They hadn’t even turned it inside out. Her veil, starting right at her forehead, was packages of boil-in-the-bag-snap peas, and the announcer was talking about the shadow and light of the design and the symbol of renewal and life from the pea pictures.
I say this as a way of pointing out that you probably shouldn’t listen to anything else I am about to say today, which is fine, since I think it’s one of those days when I’m going to get myself in trouble.
No, not politics. Or even society or aesthetics.
Well, maybe society and aesthetics, but only as a side blow.
The problem I see with trying to promote and sell our books, in a world gone mad. (Maaaad. Maaaad I tell you. They make veils out of peas packages!)
All of us saw a dramatic drop in sales this summer, and there’s unaccountable stuff too. As in, no one knows how to account for what sells and what doesn’t.
So, how are we Human Wave and indie and mid list authors to promote our stuff? (In a world gone Maaaaaad. Maaaaaaad.)
I don’t know. I just took a promo workshop with Dean Wesley Smith, and I can see some things that will help… but they help by making the books more like traditional, which involves some expense on my part. I can do that for some of the books (and am still debating whether to do it for Witchfinder.” Yes, I know there are authors I can compare it too, like Diana Wynne Jones Crestomancy series, but guys, I’m talking about selling to the distributors, so it’s the old rules. Is this a “big enough” book in the old terms for bookstores to order? Now mind you, their ordering even a tenth of what I sell in traditional would be a lot of money (we’d never go hungry again!)
But it means, too, that my laydown is set at that level, and that might affect the Baen books. And then my publisher kills me. (Even if I don’t kill my career.)
Are stores still ordering to the net? Indie stores?
Who the heck knows?
So, that’s not something I’m doing that for all the books (and I’m still teetering on the Witchfinder one. I will 100% sure do it for Musketeer’s Confessor, because that series has fans.)
So – what to do, what to do?
Stand back. The libertarian is going to suggest… banding together!
Honestly, I don’t know why I do this. It’s sort of like half my books end up being about groups. It worries me. Maybe that early Marxist indoctrination twisted me beyond reclaiming? What is wrong with me?
The idea goes something like this “There’s a bunch of human wave writers who read my blog. If we could have a group site and then make brochures and split the cost of printing, and then whoever is going to a convention can take 100 brochures or so, and everyone gets advertising.” The follow up “We can call ourselves The Human Wave Surfers.” is totally up to you to consider or not, when you realize that it comes from my mind and that I dreamed about dresses made of pea packages.
No, the problem is not web hosting. Yes, we do own the human wave site. We have more hosting capacity than we’re using. The problem is ALWAYS time.
See right now I need to put up my back list as fast as humanly possible. It SHOULD already be done and would be if it weren’t for the combination of illness and depression (and you know when you start in one, you don’t know which is driving the other. No, it’s not clinical depression. Yes, I know what that feels like and trust me, I’d run for treatment so fast I’d leave a trail. It’s more this tired, beaten down “oh, what’s the use feeling.” Which could be caused by real tiredness – I still do a lot, the issue is it becomes uncoordinated and a bit pointless and doesn’t drive towards an objective – or it could be caused by a series of upper respiratory infections. Or yes. Until I break one, I can’t tell you where the other is coming from. I’m working on getting stuff done because that’s doable.) And I need to do books for Baen. That’s the priorities. My own website needs to be redone, and then this blog needs to be moved – an endeavor interrupted by younger spawn being in classes and with a heavy load this semester.
But I could totally design a brochure. One of my “my brain is dead” is designing stuff. And if we use Human Wave Surfers, someone (note not pointing at self) could put up a site with snippets and pictures, and stuff.
And we could also, well, more pointedly help each other. Cross links at the back of appropriate books. “If you liked this book, you might also like other Human Wave Surfers.”
That sort of thing. And I’m sure others of you (you’re even sicker than I am. Sick, sick, sick) can come up with other group cross promotion endeavors at a low, low price.
Or I could be completely insane. I mean, if I told my dreams to a psychiatrist the poor man would end up spending the rest of his life in therapy.
So, what do you think? And do any of you have spare time to contribute to the cause? The end of this is all of us crossing the country in a bus on the Human Wave Surfers Signing tours, wearing t-shirts that say “I’m in the Band.”
Watch and see – all that collectivism when I was young twisted me beyond belief, I tell you!