Like any occasionally self-absorbed writer, I ego-surf. Okay, I do it daily.
I'm fascinated by the ins and outs of web searches, meta-tags, rankings and, most important, sales. It all comes down to popularity.
Even though I've only received one 5-star review so far, the paperback edition of Every Time I Think of You is now listed at #18 in Gay Fiction.
This is in spite of the fact that I deliberately chose not to make the smarter move of including people - let alone hunky shirtless male people - on the cover. Perhaps that was a bad marketing move. Perhaps not. For me, the cover says what the book is about in many ways. As a book, it looks good. But another minor mistake I think I made was using white on part of the cover, which makes it a bit distorted and washed out on any white-backgrounded web page, like Amazon.com.
I've tried several different marketing techniques on a small scale. Facebook ads worked, but were expensive; fifty cents a click-through, basically. Good Reads internal ads are doing okay. I may consider the new trend of placing regionally focused ads on major blogs. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus is doing this now for their upcoming concert, Enchantingly Wicked, a variety songs by Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz. I had the privilege of attending a preview mini-concert last week, and the repertory, along with a new song by Schwartz in response to the 'It Gets Better' anti-bullying campaigns, is guaranteed to be a show-stopper.
What's great about the SFGMC's ad campaign is that while you're surfing a nationally recognized blog like Towleroad, you get a localized ad for their concert. This is a case where the feared Internet privacy concerns are, in part, actually a good thing. Targeting an audience helps everyone. Why would you want to get ads for something you don't want?
For example, when I go to Google while logged in with my iGoogle account, I get a self-reflection of my own interests. My book and blog came up at the top of my searches for my new book's title alone. A regular search while not logged in brought similar results, but other "non-me" results were shown in their relatively truthful popularity; ranked lower, but more truthfully.
So, the book is gaining momentum. The Write Agenda posts a list of non-traditionally published books ranked by sales or popularity on Amazon.com. It seems my new book is worth listing.
But the best form of gaining "popularity" is word of mouth, or, in Internet-ese, link-ularity. If only a few of the hundreds of people who've bought it in Kindle and paperback editions would post a simple review, the book's rank would stay in the top listings in various categories, thus becoming visible to other potential buyers.
It's simple; popularity builds popularity. Even Amazon.com doesn't use the term "bestselling" anymore, but the term "popular."
Published reviews have been slow in coming, and that may be my fault. I sent review copies to several regional LGBT publications, most of which unfortunately publish very few book reviews. The few books that do get published reviews there are more major works, like the new books by authors Christopher Bram and Edmund White.
My new book is by no means groundbreaking. It's romantic, corny, a bit sentimental, yet it straddles some interesting genres; romance, gay fiction, and the sub-genre of disability, which is surprisingly diverse. But these don't add up to mainstream popularity, and I'm fine with that. If I wanted to be really "popular," I'd have penned a porny mystery thriller about vampire-hunting hunks. There's nothing wrong with such a book. It's just not my thing.
So, if it does come down to popularity, is my new book sort of the Ephelba in the Ozian world of publishing? Hardly, although the color green does come into play. But if it does get a little help from you Glinda-types out there - you know you're prettier - then great! Post a review, click a link, share and reshare. Help this little green nerd defy the gravity of indie marketing limitations.
UPDATE: I just got a wonderful review on Elisa Rolle's blog, one of the more popular and prolific of book blogs. This is invaluable! Thanks to Elisa.