Saturday, January 28, 2012
Waste Land iTunes debut: numbers and thoughts
So 'Waste Land' has been live on iTunes for roughly a day, in the free science fiction short stories category. As of right this minute, it is:
#7 in Canada
#7 in the UK
#10 in the US
#23 in Australia
Them's the numbers. Now for the thoughts:
There's an old Russian fairy tale called 'The Three Ivans'. In it, the main hero, Ivan Gardener's Son, fights three ogres, each more powerful and hideous than the last, on the banks of the River Sorodin. Before each battle there's a bit of back and forth smack talk. After each ogre has his say, Ivan basically tells them to shut up and get on with it. His name for each is as poetic as it is descriptive - he addresses each as 'Unclean Strength'.
Now besides the fact that I'm definitely going to steal that for a story title at some point, 'Unclean Strength' resonates with me because that's how I view an indie writer's struggle. Each of us stands on the banks of the River Sorodin, as it were, and each is confronted with our ogres. Which is all a long-winded way of saying it's not enough to write a decent story, have decent formatting and a decent cover. These things are necessary, but not sufficient, to cut off Unclean Strength's ugly head(s).
You can facebook and twitter and blog all day long, but it's not enough. It doesn't get your writing into the reader's hands. Forget trying to sell -- your battle is getting noticed.
So. For me, for my battle with Unclean Strength, also known as obscurity, the weapon I've chosen is 'free' and the only place with a platform worth fighting for is iTunes. (Kindle may be a bigger market, but good luck getting anything on there for free.) 'The Thief who Spat' has spurred sales of Thagoth. I am hoping 'Waste Land' will spur sales of The Sorcerer's Lament. And as the months and years roll on, I will continue to offer free content, linked in some way to an additional, moderately priced book. As more titles are added, my thinking goes, it will serve to strengthen, deepen and broaden a virtuous circle of downloads and purchases.
For those writers who measure success in terms of sales, I urge you to take a longer view. Look to the horizon. If you can't see a horizon for your writing, it's probably because there's an ogre blocking your view.