Authorguy's Blog

Marketing, ebooks, and me

Posted on: June 20, 2010

The book that started it all!

When my first book first arrived in the world, ready for all the eager book-buyers to pounce upon it, I discovered something horrifying.  Did you know that bookstores don’t stock all books, just because they exist?  I actually had to go out there and try to get them to pick it up and put it on their shelves, with a notable lack of success, I might add.

Bear in mind that I didn’t set out to be an author.  Well, I did set out to write the book, because the book told me to, but I didn’t think about being published. I wrote the book for my enjoyment.  Only afterward did I even think about publication, so I started asking around, in my usual ham-handed fashion.  With a notable lack of success, I might add.  I had no idea of how to write a query letter (and still don’t) and could very well be unpublished to this day were it not for the direct intercession of the gods themselves, who brought me and Echelon Press together.  But that’s another story.

So I walked into this whole enterprise blind and ignorant.  I resolved my dilemma in the  most direct fashion:  Since the bookstores wouldn’t put my books on their shelves, I created my own bookstore and put my books on my own shelves.  Thus was Author Guy the bookseller created.  It suited me, to a great extent.  As a bookseller, I have a role to play which allows me to interact with total strangers and urge them to buy my books.  In my daily life, I have to engage those same strangers in conversation and hope that somehow I can slip a mention of my books in edgewise, without making it sound like that’s the only reason I started talking to them in the first place.  It’s not hard to do if you’re paying attention, and when that isn’t the only reason you started talking to them in the first place.

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But there was a fatal flaw to my plan, to wit, that I had no incentive to send my customers to a different bookstore to buy the damn books!  I had a sunk cost to recoup.

Marketing was the solution, but marketing was also the problem.  A lot of people don’t get this, especially when they find out I’m a philosophy major and a software engineer, but I don’t deal well with abstractions.  Truth and logic and right and wrong are all real enough, but schedules and reports and budgets and money and populations are beyond my scope.  I can sell a book in my hand to a man standing in front of me, but I can’t produce a marketing plan.  Scheduled mailings and results tracked across regions and time…uh-uh.  The whole subject gives me a headache.  Literally. 

In addition to my novels, I’ve got a few short stories in e-book form, and I’m about to have several more.  So now I have to figure out how to get all of you lovely, strongly imagined and therefore not abstract readers of this post to go to my book site and check out my books.  And not just my books, but all of Echelon’s books, as well as the Quake books for YA readers.

To quote the pithy wisdom of Lord Mark Vorkosigan, when presented with a problem completely beyond his abilities:  “Help.”

Reality TV...without the reality!What's an Author to do?


5 Responses to "Marketing, ebooks, and me"

You crack me up! As Marc’s publisher I can tell you that we have had some…er…poited discussion. The results rarely coming in my favor. Note his comments about headaches.

However, in terms of Marc and his books and his ability to sell, there are few out there who I respect as much as Marc, and that has been hard fought. I am a marketing purist and this has pitted us against one another a few times, but you will be hard pressed to find an author more committed to the sale of books in general.

With that said, I encourage you to give Marc’s books and stories a read. He really is quite a talented writer.

as for me, I will continue to publish his writing until which time he sucks.

Karen, the proud publisher


Marc, I suspect that like everything else you do, you WILL figure out a way to sell ebooks, too. It’s an exciting new avenue, or maybe, a boulevard street that parallels the path of the print version. I am constantly trying to come up with inventive ways to expand ebook sales myself–you saw the cutesy flash drive I brought to Chicago. Because your bookstore-on-wheels is primarily an outside-the-box venue for selling books, you might experiment with flash drives, too. You might invest in a reader such as the nook or Kindle to share on the spot, Mr. Software Engineer. “Do as I do” sort of mentality. Maybe a postcard with a “free ebook” offer on it, that you give out with every sale. Stuff like that. Keep us posted!



I already bought myself a Sony EReader for that very purpose.


Awesome. I’ll be interested to hear how you like it. If I remember correctly, both the nook and the Sony read .EPUB, which is a bonus. I have Kindle for Desktop, and it’s pretty cool, too.


I have the desktop Kindle too. My wife loves to get the free downloads of the older texts. The Ereader is good, but the library I use is the Calibre rather than the SONY library.


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