In the year since I published my first novel, "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," I've been experimenting with a range of marketing approaches. I've held a couple of book giveaways on Goodreads, pushed out a series of press releases when appropriate, and tried, the best I could, to encourage reviews on the various online sites where the book is sold. Though I'm working under a modest budget, I've also advertised on a limited basis, and I've given away dozens of promotional copies.
Independent reviews (those I haven't personally recruited) have been everything I could have hoped for, and the recognition I announced here yesterday (see Good Timing: My Book Wins an Award) was a great morale booster for my team (me!).
One particular experiment has been especially frustrating. As I've been working on the sequel to "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," I thought it would be important to keep my online bookstore active with a possible series of ebook-only short stories based on characters from the book. The first in the series, "Why Do You Think They Call It a Ghost Town?" was released on the traditional sites for 99 cents. It's a fun story (I think) about Alexander's adventure visiting the real-life ghost town of Bodie, California.
The result was something akin to many ghost towns:
To be honest, I knew that this was a risky proposition. This is a niche short story, aimed at an audience which may not read short stories, and wouldn't necessarily look for them online. Even so, I must admit, I haven't received a single review on any Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere.
While I'm far enough along the road now that I can say I'm satisfied with the story itself, I remain intrigued the lack of reaction. Good? Bad? Indifferent? I have no idea! Since "Food Chain" (and it's upcoming follow-up) are really in-depth comedic character studies, perhaps the short story format doesn't work in this "world." Or, perhaps short stories, by their brief nature, don't generate a drive within readers to actually spend the time to create a review.
I had considered the possibility of creating an illustrated version of the story for an actual physical (paper) edition, but now I'm undecided.
Still, even without responses, I'm happy to have a second title available as I continue my quest as an author. I didn't want to disappear for a year and a half, publishing-wise, as I wrote the second book.
Tumbleweeds, after all, aren't obstacles after all. They might be annoying, but you can kick them out of the way pretty easily.