Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Is it a whole year already? My goodness, how time flies when you’re obsessively marketing your own self-published novel!
I must admit, my What The Hell experience has been, shall we say, stimulating in more ways than one, turning me from a mild-mannered semi-hermit into a dynamic media presence with a recognizable brand and thousands of sycophantic followers. Well, just over a thousand, if you’re to believe the WordPress counter. Actually, twenty-five or thirty regular readers. Fifty, if I’m skewing optimistic.
And therein’s the rub, eh? We’re all making different waves in the blogosphere, but my take so far is that this is a lot of work and takes a great deal of thought to yield just fifty fab fans. As a marketing tool, that doesn’t sound too efficient. Then again, it doesn’t cost me anything but time, and it has definitely contributed to my book sales. (I’ve sold a couple hundred copies of Yesterday Road to date.)
The main effect of the blog, though, has been something quite unexpected.
It has put me in touch with a bunch of terrific readers and writers who help me daily to see that a novelist doesn’t have to be an isolated misfit sweating blood in his garret. He can actually interact with people and share his anxieties and expectations — without being mordantly mocked. He can enjoy some of the pleasures of traditional publishing without actually publishing: the thrill of knowing he’s entertained a few souls with his words, the knowledge that total strangers are in his court, the sense of camaraderie that comes from sharing the trials and tribs of novel writing with fellow travelers.
In other words, it’s been a lot of fun.
But I now understand, for myself anyway, that blogging and social media aren’t very useful tools for the actual peddling of books — at least not literary fiction. This is in line with what I thought a year ago. But what they ARE good for is offering a setting for a writer’s public face, a venue where you can interact with people and project yourself in a particular way that might not be possible with your books. Plus you might make some new friends. I know I have.
I’ve also had a few remarkable experiences here since last April, among them the brief spike in traffic — 353 page views in one day! — when Amanda Palmer tossed me a one-off tweet; the comment left by novelist Craig Nova after I blogged about a relevant quote from him; the three-day ban by WordPress when I inadvertently mentioned a suspicious phishing entity (which shall remain nameless this time); and the day I claimed the coveted Eye of Yak Award.
Then there are the terrifically satisfying and playful comments! I look forward to checking my email to see if anyone wants to spar a little or crack a great joke, or even throw me a little love for that day’s post. I hope everyone who comments here will keep doing so, and I hope their numbers grow.
But speaking of numbers, What The Hell does appear to have peaked in terms of average page views, so I have to consider how to use my time in a way that gives me the pleasures of blogging while acknowledging that the practical benefit is a tad limited. (I could use to be a lot less anal about following the stats too.) I’ve written precious little fiction in the past year, and I’d like to get back to it in more dedicated fashion so I can practice some of the things I preach. It’s been my goal to post every day in the first year; I easily surpassed that, what, with the occasional haiku, humorous verse, and cancion original.
Now I think I’ll post when the urge hits or when I have something I really want to spread around — three or four times a week, I’m guessing. More than that and it becomes a job. I don’t want to think of it that way.
So thanks to all of you who have made reading What The Hell part of your bloggerly routine. And triple thanks to those who have supported my books by buying, reading, and reviewing them.
A lot has already happened in the past year I couldn’t have foreseen. Who knows what will happen in the next twelve months?