by Alexander M Zoltai
I first become acquainted with Alexander M Zoltai by reading his blog, Notes from an Alien. Alexander has a unique perspective on self-publishing, and has found ingenious ways to promote his work, and I’ve been happy to feature him in the Carnival of the Indies. I asked Alexander to write about the way he promotes his work in the virtual world of Second Life. Here’s his response.
Self-publishing is easier than ever. Book promotion is as complex and challenging as ever.
I self-published a book this year but I began the promotion over a year before I started writing the book. It’s been six months since publication and sales are still slow but I have no anxiety.
The Anxieties of Book Promotion
Just because I have no anxiety over book sales now certainly doesn’t mean I’ve never had anxiety.
I’m not only a self-published author. I’ve been a maverick in most things for most of my life. I’m well-known for my unorthodox views on genre, grammar, and, especially, book promotion.
Oh, I’ve studied all I could find from the considered experts, tried most of it, and thrust much of it aside. What was hardest to let go of was the anxiety of social networking—the common “networking” folks do on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
I must state clearly that common social networks are of value to most people; it’s just that, even with allowances for normal human variation, I’m nowhere near like most people. Seems there are quite a few of us in this occupation called writing…
The anxiety I experienced with “social networking” was that it wasn’t “social” enough for me and the “networking” had weak bonds. I need solid relationships for my book promotion endeavors. I’d rather reach a small group who love me than a vast herd who can tolerate me. And, if I can slowly and surely increase my reading-friends—create lasting bonds—the odds of those people promoting the book for me are much better.
So, there I was, book-promotion-maverick seeking deep bonds, flailing about in a sea of temporary “friendship” and uncertain “relationship”. I’m not trying to blame those Internet platforms. It’s just that I can’t find what I absolutely need in my approach to book promotion in those arenas.
Dumping What Isn’t Working To Get On With What Does
Since I’d spent so much time trying to make certain activities supply what they appear to be unable to give me, I’d built up a dangerous head of anxiety-steam. I was fit to POP…
I still do social networking. It’s just not on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or even Diaspora. I build friendships (and my email list) slowly and with great attention to what my potential readers need. I walk with them, talk with them, have coffee with them, listen to them read things they’ve written, read my stuff to them, share jokes, share their ups and downs—all from my writer’s-cave-studio-apartment.
Ever heard of the virtual world, Second Life? That picture up there is me in Second Life, near my shop. I also have a houseboat.
I’ve been involved in this experience of virtual reality for over four years but, back in early 2010, I discovered Book Island—a space dedicated to readers, writers, publishers, editors, artists, and other assorted creative-types.
If you’ve never experienced virtual reality, the first, obvious yet often-overlooked, fact is that there is a real person behind every virtual person. You may be sitting in a fake coffee house, “drinking” fake coffee with a 3-D representation of another person, but that other person is “there”, responding to you…
I’d been experiencing Book Island for only a short time when the idea for my recently-published book was born. I immediately started renting a shop (one real-life dollar is worth around 260 Second Life dollars) and began seeking feedback from folks about the book’s concept. Soon, the owner (Selina Greene in the UK) and the manager (Arton Tripsa in Australia) approached me about being their Events Manager. Now, I manage nine events a week, directly facilitating five of them, two of which were inspired by my book and are discussion sessions on issues raised in the book.
I’m over the anxiety from keeping up my efforts in promotion on Book Island while struggling to maintain a presence in the common social networks. The relief from recently making a firm decision to dump the “social networks” and spend more time social networking in Second Life is a comfort that also has the benefit of humbling me. How could I have been so dense for so long; how could I have sacrificed so much time doing what didn’t “fit” to miss out on the increased excitement and deeper relationship that my virtual world can give? Guess I’m as human as you…
What Can A Virtual World Supply That The Real World Can’t?
Even the common social networks have a bit of virtuality about them. Heck, reading a good novel creates a virtual space in your mind.
For me, living on a small military pension, Second Life has given me a huge book launch party that cost very little. It lets me meet and promote with people from all over the world. The coffee is free and the food has no calories. And, I have a former UK publisher and an Australian author as friends and confidants.
Book Island has 60 shops with 60 real authors, publishers, editors, artists, and other wild creatives. They’re my Community. We Care about each other. Plus, there are countless other places in Second Life with their pubs, coffee houses, libraries, discussion groups, poetry readings, novel-writing workshops, and, well, you name it—just about any kind of venue you can think of to search out new friends is available.
Virtually anything I could do to promote my book in “real” life, I can do in Second Life—with minimal cost and maximal connectivity; plus, I can do it all from my home, I can do it even if I haven’t combed my hair, I can do it any time of the day or night, I can do it and fulfill my book promotion tasks on a broader scale while making sure I’m creating lasting relationships…
Have you ever experienced a virtual world?
Have you ever bemoaned the effort it takes to cultivate deep friends with the common social networks?
Are you a maverick?
Is there anything in your book promotion agenda that’s non-fulfilling and wasting your time while increasing your anxiety?
How do you capitalize on the power of word-of-mouth promotion?
Alexander M Zoltai is a writer with roaring flames in his heart. He’s been self-publishing since 2005, rather recently committed to rearranging his life to accommodate book promotion, and is working on the second book of a series dedicated to Global Peace.
He’s still offering free copies of his latest book, Notes from An Alien even though it’s for sale in paperback and ebook formats.
He blogs five days a week and spends as much time as he can on his virtual houseboat.