Things I Don’t Believe

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Admittedly the things I don’t believe are exponentially larger in number than the things I believe.

One of the things that always makes agnostic in me rear up is “the new, new thing for self-promotion.”  There is a herd instinct in my field, and honestly it seems worse in indie since no one knows what works.

Right now the new new hot hot thing is newsletters. I’m agnostic on these.  I know they work for a ton of people, I don’t know if they’ll work for me.  And they don’t seem to work for me as a reader.  I’m subscribed to the newsletters of about a dozen writers, whom I like well enough to wish to hear when they have a new book out.

So, do I?  No.

Why not?  Because the philosophy driving newsletters right now is to treat them as something between this blog (note not necessarily other blogs) and twitter.  You send something out every couple of days, so people feel they know you and want to buy the book when it comes out.

I don’t know. Maybe most readers’ mailboxes aren’t as busy as mine, but any given day, on skimming the emails I divide them into three categories: must answer right now; must answer by end of day, and don’t have to answer.

Honestly, these last few weeks (we fly out of the country tonight, and it will be even messier for two weeks upcoming) my “Must answer by end of day” haven’t been getting answered, for which I beg pardon, and it will get better around May 15th.  The “don’t have to answer” though are pretty much on perma don’t-answer.  At least when I go through one of these phases when life is hitting me with the busy stick.

Which means my email learns. What it learns is that these emails are spam.  Which means I then don’t hear when a book comes out.

IF I can figure out how to do emails (honestly, like putting the donation button on my blog it might be a job for husband) I will probably have two email lists.  One is for updates, snippets, what have you, and the other ONLY releases.  So, if you see it in the email, you know there’s something to buy.  I think that MIGHT work, in the sense that the author tracker in Amazon used to work (Right now my email also puts it in spam, so I can’t tell you.)

Right now the hot hot thing which is confusing a lot of readers and social media  users is to have a nice picture with an embedded quote from your book.  This is an attempt at getting around Facebook’s limiting of links. I’ll be honest, I don’t think that works most of the time.  It MIGHT work marginally, if you can then put a link for purchase in the first comment.  But if the book isn’t out yet?  Again, going on my experience as a reader, I’m going to say nuh-uh.  Why?  Because my memory sucks.  Unless I’m your most fanatic fan ever, why on earth with fishes do I want to look at this, think “Oh, that’s interesting” and not be able to buy right away?  You know as eggs is eggs I’ll have forgotten it when it comes out in a month or so.  With a link in first comment, and if you pick the hottest, bestest of your quotes?  Mayyyyyyyyybe.

And then there’s book trailers.

The Passive Guy is Agnostic on them.

I used to be downright disbelieving on them, and like him I can’t remember when I last saw one.  They were the hot hot thing of the early oughts.

But as I was writing why I didn’t believe in them, I realized things had changed.

You see, I used to say “When you’re in youtube mode, even if the trailer knocks your socks off, what are you going to do? Run out to a bookstore and buy the book?”

But things have changed. If a trailer, or something knocks my socks off, I open an amazon window and buy the book for the kindle.

It also, like the quotes and pic might make a good way fro readers who ADORED your book to share with friends that is stronger than “You must read this.”

Caveats, of course, that it must be good, it must not be crazy expensive, (I used to be able to make them from static pictures, and now that I can render…. um…) AND it must come out after the book, so people can buy right away.  But I think it might have some value.

All the vale it used to have is what I think email lists have now: they tell the publisher you’re invested.  Seriously, you used to write “Has book trailer” and the publishers thought it was teh hottest thing.  Because NY publishing is Hollywood for ugly people.

Now… well, now book trailers might be worth it.

I find the herd instinct weird, because most often what everyone is doing has no more effect than a pardon me in a hurricane.

So periodically I need to reevaluate things and at least become agnostic on some…

106 responses to “Things I Don’t Believe

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Just a thought.

    There are things that “I don’t believe in” and there are things that “I reject and will speak out against”. 😀

  2. On one of his episodes of QI, Stephen Fry quoted Confucius as saying “The Superior man knows what is Right, the inferior man knows what will sell.” and then observed that there must be very few inferior men, because nobody seems to know how to sell anything.

    • Ah, but are the categories exhaustive?

    • CombatMissionary

      An Army buddy used to have a quote on his wall by Confucius that said, “The only thing worse than fat lieutenants is fat captains.”
      I have a quote by Confucius on my wall that says, “There’s no limit to how far a soldier can take his career through intense training, raw determination, and a willingness to give himself ulcers and chronic kidney disease through the daily abuse of pain killers.”
      Confucius was a smart guy. 😉

  3. I’ll admit that I’m skeptical of the video ads mostly because I don’t care for video in general. Then again, I’ll admit that I’m a born neanderthal who wishes she was still on her Windows XP system surfing the internet of the late 90s back when Adobe flash was the most annoying thing you were likely to find. (You kids, get your $#@! auto-play videos off of my lawn).

    • I bought two books based on trailers. Both were lightly animated and had images from the books (both children’s books). The illustrations caught my fancy, and Red 2.0 was at the appropriate age, so I bought them for her. Adult books? No.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        So does this mean that if Diktoffer came out with a new book, and promoted it with a book trailer containing, among other things, the Japanese victory parade after Nanking, that you would /not/ buy and read it? 🙂

        • I suspect it means that any decision to purchase/read would be independent of the video.

          • What the wallaby said. I’d look in the academic journals, browse Amazon, and see if the local library had it. I wouldn’t even hit play on a book trailer (in part because I really do not care to see footage from the Japanese in China. The stills are bad enough, thank you.)

    • Yeah, I’m much the same. When people link to something that’s only video, I close out of it immediately unless it’s something I’m really, really interested in. I prefer to read my news, not watch it. Possibly because I’m constantly getting interrupted

  4. As a reader I prefer the author newsletters that only come out once or twice a month.
    I am definitely interested in their book releases. I like to hear about progress on their new books. Sample snippits are definitely interesting. I even like to hear about their cats.
    But if it started showing up twice a week I’d probably delete before reading.

    • I did a monthly newsletter, for a couple of years, but I got fewer and fewer readers each time, and never seemed to get anyone new to sign up for it. Seemed like a pointless time sink, so I gave it up.

  5. You’ve written a post (short too, I’m proud of you) on promotion and failed to put a link in it to Baen.com where the e-Arc to Monster Hunter Guardian can be purchased?

  6. Also, good travels to you!

    Are you going to have open threads or something that posts while you’re gone?

  7. I could make book trailers…. long as its like.. posed characters. If you want them to move, it requires a specialist.

  8. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The basic question I have with a book trailer is how much visual content is actually in the book to tie in with the trailer. I can see it working well for Light Novels and Visual Novels. I’m fairly sure I’ve actually come across such book trailers on youtube.

    Mad thought is that it would be interesting to see the results of a property containing LNs, VNs, CRPGs, traditional cover image only ebooks, and book trailers. I’m short on sleep today, and a wee bit out of my mind.

  9. So periodically I need to reevaluate things and at least become agnostic on some…

    Is a good idea.

    • CombatMissionary

      Most ideas, philosophies, and laws should automatically include a sunset clause. Life would be far simpler, and I think progress would be a lot faster.

      • An awful lot of “progress” is just change.

        I prefer the “test everything, hold to what is good” approach– a bias in favor of keeping what is there, but not an overwhelming one.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Years ago, I read a book that quoted some English Lawyers (IIRC they were living around the time of Henry the 8th) as saying “Old Laws aren’t good because they are Old, they are Old because they are good”.

          IE The laws had been tested by time and passed the test.

          • Old laws are ones for which the loopholes and misunderstandings have largely been identified and addressed. This acts as a serious crimp in the business plans of those who make their daily bread by the identification and commodification of loopholes and misunderstandings.

            Happily, our post-modern legal caste has learned to redefine words, inverting meanings (see, for example, “discrimination”) and managing to expand the methods by which law can be re-interpreted for fun and profit.

        • The American Creed, put to music by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson …


          Sometimes I think every song I’ve ever heard has been uploaded to der Tube.

          • I tried desperately to find Ikki-Tikki-Tambo, in the version I heard at home. (Dad has the record, somewhere.)

            Way down in wongo wongo, the native in the jungle love ikki-tikki-tambo ja ja mabo ra rah basco boom! (BOOM!)
            He’s clever and he’s funky,
            he’s just a little monkey,
            he’s ikki-tikki-tambo
            jaja Rambo
            Ba ba basco boom! (BOOM!)

        • Now, now, let’s be hasty here. After all, “The Same laws now cannot be the same laws in 50-100 years. Liberals understand that.”

          https://westfargomusings.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/the-modern-liberal-mentality/#more-1967

      • That idea hit its sunset clause with me.

      • I’ve also thought that every law, when passed, should describe its purpose, so that if there’s a particular individual who falls outside the scope of that purpose, then the law won’t come down hard on them.

        This could also be used to determine if the law should continue to be on the books at all.

  10. it will get better around May 15th

    No, it won’t. Come may 15th you will sit down at your computer, check your email and find two+ weeks of accumulated correspondence. You will scan for MUST ANSWER and then shut down and check back in the next day. With luck and energy you will clear the accumulated (and what arrives in the interim) “end days” stuff by the 21st.

    Do not kid yourself – if it waited until the 15th it will hold until the 21st. No point exhausting yourself and burning writing time by attempting to clear more than two (maybe three) days worth of that a day.

  11. Newsletters won’t work. They go to those already inclined to buy your books and are unlikely to increase market penetration. A blog can at least garner new readers.

  12. In all the years of marketing, I’ve found that there’s no silver bullet, and there’s no panacea. Some things work well for some people, some things do not, and even things that work well have a tradeoff. One of the besetting sins of trad pub is that they don’t understand target marketing, and don’t care to, so their approach to author marketing is “You must do it all, all the time, all at once, everything!”

    One author’s best strengths are on Pinterest, where she makes cutsey collages and photo sets of places her main book would likely be sets, fashions her heroine would love, things her fictional bakery would create, etc. And release announcements are beautful pictures that get lots of pins. (That author is absolutely not me.)

    One author does a daily blog, and runs release announcements in the release week, and then pins the new book to the sidebar, above the older ones. (My husband does that, actually.)

    One author does a quarterly newsletter, quite chatty, and happens to mention upcoming con appearances and where he’s at on various books…but his own website is stuck in 1995, as far as features and navigation goes.

    Which one is doing it right? They all are – because they’re playing to their strengths, and their audience’s preferences. The market is ever changing, so the ways of reaching out are good to revisit now and then. But two things remain constant: readers want a good story, and nothing trumps word of mouth.

    • your husband, U.S. citizen Peter Grant? 😀

      • Yeah, that’s the one!

        He’s still marveling over the fact that he’s a US Citizen. Today’s been full of “This is really home! It feels more home!” and “I’m so very glad that I’m finally really an American.” To be fair, he’s been one for less than 48 hours, now, so it does still feel quite strange, new, and wondrous

        Yesterday, as he posed outside the USCIS building with his flag and his folder with his passport registration, voter registration, and assorted forms, he looked quite solemn. But there may exist a picture with his wife grinning by his side, and bunny ears behind his head…

        • I remember going to the mailbox after coming home with my citizenship certificate, and starting to cry because I was finally home. I had a home.

          • There’s no place like home!

          • Welcome to the family. The white sheep good ones, even the black sheep are fairly fine people and interesting.

            Just stay away from the red ones though; they just want your wallet, the shirt off your back, and your soul.

        • I think I can speak for many all of the Huns when I write that we appreciate his making the effort to do it the lega hard way.

          • +1776

          • +++

            My former boss became a citizen after having his green card for over 40 years, American wife and all the kids are native born. He could & does maintain duel citizenship. He finally became a citizen because when he dies, the estate taxes because he was a foreign national would have devastated his estate.

            I still remember the day he accidentally got on the Puget Sound Ferry from San Juan Island County to Seattle. Only it was the one that came from Canada first. He didn’t have his passports or green card with him; oops. We did get our boss back. Everything was sorted out without him being deported. It was interesting there for awhile, however. Boss, as in owner of the company, kind of critical.

            • Not to quibble over what is probably a typo, but it seems germane to clarify: you were speaking about dual citizenship, right?

              Because duel citizenship is what folks like Bernie, De Blasio and Alexandria Occasional Cortex hold.

              • 🙂 Gulp. Oops. Yes. Point taken. Dual citizenship.

                Never claimed I could spell … I mean I do notice the difference between their, there, and they’re. But oops, not so much Duel and Dual, LOL.

              • Oh man. How I WISH Bernie, DeB, and AOC had DUEL citizenship.
                Conservatives would be lining up to take a shot at them.

                • Duel Citizenship because their version of citizenship is at war with our definition. We are engaged in a duel over whose definition will prevail.

                  We want to protect the rights of ALL citizens to Free Speech, Free Association, Freedom of Belief, Freedom to Petition our Representatives for Redress of Grievances and Freedom to Peacefully possess weapons for the purpose of self-defense.

                  They want to limit those rights to only select, enlightened subjects of their government, outlawing “HATE” speech, Forcing membership and (especially) tithing to Unions (who remain free to use those forced contributions to suppress our individual freedoms), Force Churches to conform their Creeds to officially imposed dogma (e.g., abortion, transexualism), limit our right to advocate our views to politicians (see: Citizens United, criticisms of) …


                  … and restrict our ability to defend ourselves against criminals and tyrants (But I Repeat Myself)..

                  (HT Instapundit for that image)

                  • I realize that, writing in haste, I elided their curtailment on Freedom of Assembly. See:

                    As Smoke Bomb Disrupts University of Texas Austin, a Strong Speech Bill Is Passed

                    … for elaboration of the restrictions effected to prevent “discouraging words” on our campuses.

                    The essential difference between the two visions is that we want all citizens to be able to enjoy the enumerated rights, while they want to restrict such exercise to responsible subjects, with them deciding a priori who can be deemed responsible.

                • 🙂 Yes.

                  Got the same image when it was pointed out my oops.

        • “I’m so very glad that I’m finally really an American.”
          Welcome home.
          God Bless the USA

    • One of the besetting sins of trad pub is that they don’t understand target marketing, and don’t care to, so their approach to author marketing is “You must do it all, all the time, all at once, everything!”

      The cynic in me says that there are two reasons for that:

      (1) It’s the authors, not the publishers that are expected to be busy at it all the time. If the publishers were expected to market, things would get a lot more targeted very quickly.

      (2) No one actually can be doing everything all the time at once, so there’s a built-in way to blame the author if the book doesn’t do well.

  13. IF I can figure out how to do emails

    Establish a special email address, such as S.Hoyt, New Books 4 Old@emaildotcommie, create (and maintain) an email group, such as Suckers Buyers and send that out whenever you’ve something new for us to buy. Insert Amazon (or whatever) link to enable impulsive purchase, whatever copy you think will pique interest and Voila, you arrive in inboxes across the internet!

    If you are going purely Independent you could even let readers subscribe to your e-books, although once you go there you will drive yourself nuts keeping the pipeline flowing. Perhaps a small fee ($1 a month?) which entitles subscriber to two books a year (look at Audible’s model.)

    Whatever – beats going door-to-door calling out, “Novels and short-stories, alive, alive-oh!”

  14. The reason you misdoubt following the herd is that you are aware that once in the herd you lose any distinction, you no longer stand out.


    Getting lost in the crowd doesn’t sell books. Newsletters, even videos, will not attract enough interest. Wrote a story, divide it into five parts and post one part each day on the blog (or, if you must, send it in newsletter) and you might get the traffic.

    Just one word, Sarah; one word: Serials!

  15. Most authors probably want the widest exposure, but they seem to concentrate on the walled gardens of Facebook and Twitter. I’ve read some author blogs that were mainly just advertisements for “sign up to my mailing list!” or “get the whole thing on Facebook!” Or Instagram, or whatever the “social media” of the moment is.

    Even if I was signed up to all of those… mostly I’m just irritated that they don’t have everything in one place. I *already* exerted myself to bookmark their blog and remember to click on it every now and then, “screw you if you don’t follow all my eleventy mediases” generally incites me to not bother following them any more.

  16. I take it you’re off to marry off #2 son to #2 daughter-in-law. Hope all goes well, and CONGRATS.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      IIRC This is the Church wedding of #1 Son & #1 daughter-in-law for Sarah’s family in Portugal.

      • Yes.

        Sarah, when you are back, and feel up to it, if not too personal, would you educate us why a religious wedding has been a logistical nightmare for a couple already legally married?

        People do destination religious and non religious weddings all the time without obvious problems (or they’d post the problems screaming about them.)

        But, please, NOT now. Not until back and rested up!

        • Because religious weddings in the Catholic Church are a EVERLOVING FREAKING NIGHTMARE.

          “Oh, my goodness, kids these days aren’t getting married in the Church. Let’s make sure that we make it even harder, require all weddings have at least a 6 month warning, require it all goes through one phone number– and then never check the answering machine on that number, don’t allow anybody to bypass it, and never have anybody answer the phone! BRILLIANT!”

          #Sorrybitofarant
          #Secondgenerationbypassingthenewimprovedhelpersthatdon’tdojack

        • If you know somebody to help bypass the BS, it can work– that’s how my folks got married (her childhood priest signed off on them having sufficient counseling, short version is her registered parish priest involves millstones), and my children’s godmother went the persistent widow with the judge route after her annulment, and the priest who convalidated Elf and my marriage spent a lot of time reading the questions aloud, snorting, and answering without waiting for our response. (“Are you open to life?” *snort* “I think that one is obvious. Are you willing to raise your children in the– er, yes, obviously.” etc)

          But a just-returned sailor who DIDN’T have any “ins” for the parish…well, looking back, I got treated pretty dang rudely.
          It was frankly scandal-causing, and one of these days I am going to do something to fix it, once I figure out what.

          • My sister was married in the Catholic church, we were raised Episcopalian, when we went (hard to go to “church” when one is busy fishing or hunting on weekends.) Her groom was raised Catholic, mother extremely so (she threw a fit); he is not/never has been a regular attendee. Both describe the “counseling” as “spent a lot of time reading the questions aloud, snorting, and answering without waiting for our response. (“Are you open to life?” *snort* “I think that one is obvious. Are you willing to raise your children in the– er, yes, obviously.” etc)” (quoted from Foxfier). They’ve been to A church MAYBE a dozen times in the last 35 years, maybe (Marriage, Girls were baptized, that’s 5 times, giving them some credit that MIL might have dragged them all to Easter, etc., services when they lived closer …)

          • We’ve got as far as we have thanks to some extremely hard headed, practical priests and such who said “These ones, we’ll keep.”

          • I was raised Catholic (still consider myself so, even though I don’t attend one of their churches), and the wife Baptist. We got married in her church. Her minister wanted us to do pre-marriage counseling for 3 weekends, after she had told him that I live 300 miles away and would only be back for one weekend. Then he got my name wrong during the ceremony, after I had expressly told him to change the name he had written down in his notes from the previous ceremony he had done. About a year and a half later he got bounced from the church for having an affair with the wife of one of the deacons.

            such role models

        • Because the Catholic Church right now is a bizarre mix of medieval procedure and trendy “new” ideas caught from pop psychology.
          Don’t tempt me. I can find temptation myself.
          At least when Dan and I got married, as an inter-religion wedding, we got a proper trial with an advocatus diabolus and everything (Okay, I don’t know if they had one, but in my mind, they did. He argued we didn’t have what it took to be truly married, then broke into a rendition of sympathy for the devil, backed up by an orchestra of Capucin monks.)

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      #2 daughter in law is currently trapped in the catacombs beneath a necropolis on an alien world, and son is just about ready to start inventing the spaceship he will use to find and rescue her.

  17. The whole thing about book trailers didn’t make much sense to me until I saw some on a video display in a book store.

    I’m not so sure they’d do any good right now, because frankly auto-play advertisements annoy the everliving hell out of me. Looking forward to the next update of my browser because it STOPS THAT CRAP FROM AUTO-PLAYING.

    If an author posted it on their social media – blog, youtube, thing, then that makes sense. Maybe make it available on bookstore webpages.

    • I’ve seen a couple of book trailers on author web sites. I already liked the series the trailers were advertising and probably would have bought the books anyway, but they heightened the anticipation and gave me a little incentive to buy the books sooner than I might have done.

  18. I skip commercials whenever possible. A video trailer for a book would need to stand on its own as a piece of entertainment.

    What seems to work for getting me to look at a book is a combination of word of mouth, random walks, and serendipity. Some blogs I used to read led to Larry Corriea and a renewed interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy, eventually to this blog which has turned me on to several writers whose books I enjoy. There is also the overlap with bloggers who have since become novelists, some of whom also comment around here. It gets quite confusing figuring out exactly where I first heard of a particular book or writer.

  19. I got it! I got it! He said, sucking up shamelessly…

    • Good. We’ll let you live. Considering that we barely escaped traveling in the luggage compartment via Istanbul (only a small exaggeration) and ended up booking same-day flights which cost the Earth, I NEED the money.

      • Pimp out those wedding pictures for your adoring fans! The $5 level means you get to see the official wedding photo. If you want to see more, pay up!

        I kid, I kid…

        • OTOH, it’s a new month – time to revisit the tip jar!

          • Errrrrr … wha hoppen da tip jar?

            I note the Patreon Coming Soon tag is also gone (good riddance) but having to go Paypal for tipping, not having a link here?

  20. So far, the only things I’ve been able to think of when I finally get this (DELETED) thing published is-
    *Ad postings
    *Flyers at cons (with a 25% off link)
    *Stuff on FB (never Twitter, that cesspool of vile memes and socialists)
    *Web page with the “director’s notes” and random snarky commentary (we’ll talk about politics after three months of my Patreon being at the $2500/month level)
    *Offering Alpha/Beta reader access via my Patreon

  21. Are soundtracks for books still a thing? I saw advertising for a couple of them years ago, but haven’t seen anything in years now. While I really like listening to music while reading, and some music does really seem to go with certain books, having someone else pair up the two always seemed odd to me.