The (Long) Tail of Self-Published Authors

I read Meghan Ward’s excellent Writerland blog post, Does Social Media Sell Books?, this morning, and thought I would share a version of my comments here:

I recently came across two terms that relate to me as a self-published and self-marketed author:

Googlable“: I have a blog that comes up on top of the first page of search results with my my name as the search string, so I guess that makes me “googlable”.

Long Tail Business Model“: Illustrated in the graph below, founder Bob Young verbalized this business model in a 2007 interview:

A [traditional] publishing house dreams of having 10 authors
selling a million books each. Lulu wants a million authors
selling 100 books each.

Long Tail Business Model Illustration (Picture by Hay Kranen / PD)

I guess I could have also titled this post “Are Self-Published Authors Skewed?”

On the topic of using social media to market books, I currently have about 20 folks who follow my blog, about 40 likes on my Facebook page, and a little over 300 followers on Twitter. Pretty meager numbers compared to many, but darn, it has taken an inordinate amount of time away from writing my next novel just to get to these levels. Going by gut feel, I can’t relate many–if any–book sales to my social media efforts. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. I adopted the “social media is about being social” mantra, and I hardly ever even mention my novel, let alone hawk it, although everything does link back to this blog.

While I sit with the vast majority, somewhere in the “long tail” of self-published authors, I’ve met some lovely folks through my social media socializing, and I’m enjoying posting weekly on my blog. Now it’s time to dive deeply into my next novel (think James Herriot meets Nora Roberts in Ireland!), because it’s the crafting of stories that I really enjoy.

All the best,

6 thoughts on “The (Long) Tail of Self-Published Authors

  1. Eddie Rhoades

    Is your next book to be a sort of sequel to the first one? Get those distractions out of the way and start on it. Your public awaits your next book. Otherwise I have nothing to do but watch TV which seems less and less entertaining. You are doing a major part to maintain the almost lost art of reading. So in the words of John Lennon you may be THE Paperback Writer. Proud to know you – Eddie Rhoades

  2. Meghan Ward

    Thanks for the mention, and good luck with your next book! There’s a new prison memoir by Damien Echols that’s getting a lot of hype, and he self-published his first book (also a memoir, I think). Would be interesting to hear how he made the leap from self-publishing to superstar.

    1. Rob Mahan

      My pleasure, Meghan, and thanks for your encouragement! If vaulting the chasm between self-publishing and superstar might include a stint on death row, I’m just fine with my doing my time in the long tail, at least for now.

  3. growing grace farm

    Thanks for this one, Rob. I’ve been encouraged to turn my blog into a book but have no idea where to start given that I’m a single parent, a working woman, a part-time farmer, and a blogger/twitterer who longs for stellar numbers. Hmmmm. . .where do I find the time to put it in a book, research publishers, submit to publishers, etc.? A girl can dream . . .

    1. Rob Mahan

      Hi Cameron, and thanks so much for following! You know I always find your writing soothing, and inspiring. A couple of other authors / bloggers you might find value in getting to know are Kristen Lamb, Piper Bayard, and Meghan Ward. They are all entertaining, and informative on the challenges of blogging, writing, and publishing. Keep blogging, and keep searching, and never stop dreaming!


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