Monday, January 09, 2006


For the pros:

You've been working your ass off, self-promoting like crazy. You do the signings. You attend the conferences. Your website is a work of art. You've got a great Internet presence. You know a hundred booksellers by name.

And you aren't selling squat.

Are you discouraged? Hell yeah. Are you depressed? They don't make Zoloft pills big enough to fix you. Are you convinced that it's one big conspiracy to prevent you from succeeding? I can't help you there, because you're delusional and paranoid. But I can say this:

Sales aren't eveything.

What was that? Is Joe taking back everything he's been crowing about for the last four years?

No. Because sales actually are everything. But don't expect everything you do to lead directly to sales.

They do, however, lead to things that lead to sales.

What do I mean? In the last few weeks, here are some opportunities that came to me. I didn't solicit them. I wasn't fishing for them. Somehow these people tracked me down and offered me the following:
  • A spot in an anthology
  • Four website interviews
  • Two website story assignments
  • A paid gig judging a writing contest
  • A BookPage interview
  • An interview with Forbes
  • A Guest of Honor spot at a conference
  • Three paid library talks
  • An invitation to a non-fiction collection
  • Two paid teaching gigs at various colleges
  • Free attendance to a conference
  • Writing a humor article in a magazine
  • A newsletter interview

Plus over a dozen people linked to my blog, and about twenty signed up for my newsletter, in the past ten days.

This is what self-promotion does for you. The word gets out. People hear about you and track you down. Your brand continues to grow in all kinds of unexpected, intangible ways.

None of the opportunites I've listed above are the result of any one thing that I've done. They're the result of everything I've done.

And in the long run, they'll help me sell books.

So don't be upset that your best laid plans seem to be tanking. If you're self-promoting, it's helping you. Even if you don't see any immediate benefits.

Keep at it.


Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer said...

It took Dan Brown four books. Don't be impatient. If you write good books, it will all come/

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Don't notice exactly where this happened--yet--with my fiction, but it's certainly happened with my nonfiction. Editors contacting me asking me to write for them, some I've never contacted, others pubs I contacted months and months ago.

So I guess the key is, do good work, get yourself known and hopefully good things will come to you.

JD Rhoades said...

It took Dan Brown four books.

This is what I keep telling my dad, who keeps wondering loudly why I'm not rich yet.

Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer said...

Keep the faith Mr. Rhoades. The DaCode pulled the other three of DB's books onto bestseller lists...

Mindy Tarquini said...

I sent your link to a friend just this morning, Joe. I know she'll get the link and go 'Whiskey Who, Bloody What?' But maybe she'll come look. Maybe she'll get hooked. Maybe she'll be in Borders someday and see one of them and go, 'Oh yeah, that guy...wonder if it's any good.'

Jaye Wells said...

Speaking of Dan Brown... Did anyone else see that along with the release of the movie, the release of the mass market paperback has a print run of 5 million? That's not counting a few odd hundreds of thousands of other special edition books. Everyone kneel before our new High Supreme Overlord.


Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer said...

I saw that. I guess every man, woman, and child in America needs a copy of the Davinci Code.

As DB's cash pile grows...

Stacey Cochran said...

I've been campaigning all around the state the past few days, handing out flyers for various events I've got coming up...

It's like I'm running for governor.

Great post, Joe!

Keep up the good work. And congratulations on all the incoming stuff. Forbes, eh?

Not too shabby.


Unknown said...

There's a lesson to be learned here... write two books... begin to attack Catholicism on the third... and then let the bees loose on the fourth.

The more religious defamation, the better.

Get to work, writers!

My third books is called "Jesus was Alright"

the follow-up will be "Just Kidding, He Was a Big Jerk, A Big Gay Nazi Jerk".

I'll see you on the bestseller list!

Jaye Wells said...

LOL Justin. The third book reminds me of the Doobie Brothers' song, Jesus is Just Alright. Since they still play it all the time I guess you're onto something.

Great, now I'll have that song in my head all day.

WannabeMe said...

Well, all I can say is that Joe is right. I had no interest in reading mystery until I stumbled upon an interview Joe did a couple years back about the deal he signed for his series.

Was it his book that got me interested? No. It was the interview. I thought Joe did a nice interview and that got me interested in his books. Then I told all the Bunions about it, and then I told other people about it... you get it what I'm saying.

So yes, all that work does pay off in the long run.

Jean said...

And at least one of those new links bought one of your books.

JA Konrath said...

If anyone is curious, I finally got my movie link back up.

Go to

Unknown said...

Funny... I read about you, Joe, I think first in a Writer's Digest... and then I forgot about you for months until Lee Goldberg mentioned you a week or so ago (your resolutions post).

The second it came here, it all came flooding back, and here i am, chasing all of your books down across NYC.

Oh, PS: Someone pulled one of your tips on avoiding sending SASEs in queries and posted it to Miss Snark... and she sorta tore that tip apart.

Jude Hardin said...

I was browsing in a bookstore several years ago, made my way to the magazine rack, and happened to pick up that month's edition of Writer's Digest. I read an article called After The sale by J.A. Konrath, and was intrigued by the fact that someone who had received so many rejections finally ended up landing a deal in a big way.

I had been reading a lot of Stephen King, and was working on a multiple point of view novel that involved a man obsessed with a former love, so obsessed he was willing to kill to get her back.

After reading Joe's article (and after buying WHISKEY SOUR; I'd been attracted to the cover art before reading the WD article and before cracking the spine), I thought that perhaps my work in progress might be better formatted as mystery rather than horror. Soon after that I bought a copy of James Frey's (oddly enough) HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY. I invented a protagonist and reworked my horror novel into a first-person mystery.

The novel's fate is yet determined, but the point is that I was inspired by the WD article and by reading WHISKEY SOUR.

I might disagree with you sometimes, Joe, but believe me when I say I have great respect. Keep on keepin' on, man.

JA Konrath said...

"and she sorta tore that tip apart"

I few people emailed me about that.

I blogged about it.

I'm curious to see if anyone sides with me.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Boy, Joe, if I get unsolicited requests like you have, I might actually be able to make some kind of living at this game.

Workshops, anyone?