You do know that you have to work at this, right?

The Passive Voice has this great baffler of a post today where a guy explains that he doesn't self-publish because 50 years ago, people didn't self-publish (and the industry hasn't changed a bit since then), plus he threw up a book without a cover and didn't do anything for it and it didn't sell. So there.

The comments are hilarious because it's a bunch of people saying, "I know this guy is hopeless and doesn't want to learn, but if he would just" and then there's an ENORMOUS list of things this guy could and should be doing for his book.

The thing that confounds me about people like this (and he's not the only one) is that they say, I did nothing for my book, and SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED HAPPENED: I got nothing results. WAAAAHHHH!!!!

And I'm the first to admit that I have done next to nothing for my books, and I have next-to-nothing sales, but this does not surprise or frustrate me, because I do not expect something for nothing.

The first time I put Trang up for sale, it didn't even have a cover--just like that guy's book! And do you know what the very first thing to pass through my mind was when I finally saw my book--my wonderful book! that I sweat blood for! finally published after years of frustration!--up for sale with a generic cover?

"No one's gonna buy this. It's got no cover!"

And even when I had the cover up, did I expect Trang to sell? No, because I knew that having just the first book in a series out would turn off a lot of readers, who would fear that the series would never be finished. So I chose not to market it, and this single, first-in-a-series book with no marketing behind it didn't sell much.

This was not a shock to me, because, as a rule, I do not expect something for nothing. 

Sure, sometimes you do get something for nothing--sometimes a writer will have a big hit despite doing absolutely nothing for their book. But such events are very rare indeed and should not be expected, ever. Even when a writer gets surprised by an unexpected success, they usually immediately get working to help that success along as best they can. You can claim that such efforts are unnecessary, but I'm sure such a writer would counter that, after all, you can't expect something for nothing.

Of course there's a learning curve with self-publishing, but you know what? A lot of this stuff, once you do it (get it formatted properly, get a real cover, get a good description, find a suitable category, put some links on your blog), it's done with--you don't have to do it again. I am just now starting to explore on-line advertising, but I can tell you this much: An on-line advertising campaign takes all of five minutes to set up--the hardest part is typing in your credit-card number.

Let's put it this way: I recently was at such a loss for time-consuming publishing chores that I began recording an audiobook. This is not the action of a writer who is being overwhelmed by publishing tasks.

Yes, I will hopefully be doing more now that Trust is out, and figuring out what works, but again, I just don't see tweaking on-line advertising campaigns as something that will take a ton of time--you run one campaign with one tag line or on one Web site, run another with or on another, and discard the one that works less well. Lindsay Buroker can tell you all about it.

Of course, it's possible that I won't be doing more--maybe things will get crazy in my personal life and leave me unable to finish Trials, record the audiobook version of Trang, or even take five minutes to set up an advertising campaign. That would certainly make me sad, but if such things occurred, I would not be the least bit surprised if sales of Trang and Trust were damaged as a result.

Because (say it with me), you can't expect something for nothing. Or you can, but you just wind up sounding like you're freaking three years old.