I have no vast network that I can rely on. I’m not even very social. I feel uncomfortable approaching new people (though I can do it) and this discomfort either causes me to clam up or babble my life story. Either way I regret my actions/dialogue afterwards. So when it comes to spreading the word to readers, I have two things to work with: myself and my fiction.
I’ve heard the arguments for and against free fiction. While I understand that writers deserve to make a living out of it, I think it’s unreasonable to guard creative work selfishly. There are times to give your work away for free, just like there are times to earn money from it.
Some readers will take a leap of faith on a new author – and a lot of the time they’re already rewarded in advance for that by getting the book for free. Some readers will then give the writer feedback. I’ve got a little short story tucked away to give to those readers as a thank you. Some readers will purposefully buy the book after they’ve managed to get a legal copy for free. That’s nice. That’s them rewarding me. I let them and it’s most appreciated. Some readers will give mixed feedback (“I liked it but… “). I will always thank them because they took the time to write and have the courage to tell me the truth! That’s valuable information. Some readers – bless their hearts – will write me a book review, and quite frankly this is what I’m really after. I’m pretty obvious about it as I politely ask for a review at the back of the book. I don’t expect a review though, because I gave them the book gratis, I didn’t give them a ‘review copy’.
The fandom works first in reverse. Readers are the deities I make offerings to. If my offering is worthy, they’ll take it. My tribute table is small for now, as it only holds one book and a bunch of short stories, but I intend on growing it. Every comment about my book/stories that I receive makes me feel like the reader gods are listening, and that is all any true writer truly wants. Acknowledgement rewards me. I continue the rewards by offering back more free fiction. It sounds like a lovely cycle, doesn’t it? When I get some priced books tossed into that cycle, I’m not going to stop giving away the short fiction, because why would I end something I worked so hard to set up in the first place?