Announcing Steampunk Desperado
by Vaugh Treude
In the early days of self-publishing, an ambitious writer could accomplish a lot on social media. It was relatively easy for an outsider to sneak into the public eye through perseverance and clever use of internet resources. Now that the field has become crowded, it’s become much more difficult to get noticed. My wife Arlys and I have not had much success at book sales despite our efforts at marketing. Rather than being discouraged, we’re trying new tactics.
I remembered a lesson from my years as an independent software consultant, which was not to cast your net too wide. A consultant should promote a particular specialty – for example, video games or cell phone apps – which gets you an initial job from a particular client, followed by possible work in other areas. Since this strategy worked well for me in consulting, I’m trying it in fiction. Though we’ve written in many areas, including theater, our specialty is steampunk, a genre of science fiction set in the Victorian era. The genre has become quite popular, in part due to the fanciful costumes and clever gadgets it has inspired.
Thus our new website, Steampunk Desperado, was born. We chose this name because it incorporates the Western charm of Arizona. For the kickoff, I wrote a short story about a gentleman bandit nicknamed “The Clockwork Caballero” because of his mechanical arm. We had pictures taken of me in western garb with steampunk accessories such as goggles and old-fashioned glasses. This “Wanted” poster (see photo) was one of our promotions. I serialized the story in three parts to publish on the site, and plan to write more at a later time.
We intend to post something every day until at least the end of the year. Over the years, we’ve written about 50 short articles on steampunk themes, many related to the history of fashion, cooking, and transportation. We’re re-publishing all of these on Steampunk Desperado, along with reviews I’ve written on more than 20 works of steampunk fiction by other authors. Every post will include a picture, and we have plenty to choose from, thanks to Arlys’ hobby of steampunk costuming and crafts. She transformed this squirt gun into a gadget worthy of an 1890s secret agent (see photo).
We post excerpts and links to each article on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Gab (a conservative-leaning Twitter.) The articles with particularly good pictures we also re-post on Tumblr and Instagram. We plan to engage reader interest by hosting contests, polls, and giveaways.
Has all this activity helped our book sales? It’s too early to tell, especially since we have been busy publishing a Halloween-themed e-book, Love at Stake, and the print edition of our steampunk adventure, Professor Ione D and the Epicurean Incident. A few months from now, we’ll report back to let you know what worked and what didn’t. In the meantime, please check out our Steampunk Desperado blog and leave a comment to let us know how we’re doing.
Vaughn Treude grew up on a farm in North Dakota. The remoteness of his home, with few children nearby, made science fiction a welcome escape. After many years in software, he realized that the discipline of engineering could be applied to writing fiction. Check out his works at VaughnTreude.com and look for his exciting new website, SteampunkDesperado.com, now live!