When I was in my teens, and I wanted to be an author I imagined my life would be blessed and I would be able to buy a cabin in the woods to write my master pieces. I would spend my days drinking coffee, and hunched over a typewriter (yes I’m that old). I believed the words would flow from me like a gushing river in the spring. I would pop out several books a year, and my adoring fans would be breathlessly awaiting my next amazing piece of work.
The reality??? I spent years writing what was selling at the time, and I slogged through stories that were awful and poorly written. During this time I never finished a story. Never connected with my characters and fantasy I had about being a best selling author with droves a fans died a painful and gruesome death. So in reality I stopped writing for a long time, I thought if I couldn’t write what was out in the market then I would never be a success. If I couldn’t strike it big then I should just give up. (BTW, I was trying to write historical romance, and sci-fi/fantasy novels)
But there was always this niggling feeling deep in my soul that said write…write…write. You have a story to tell. But I didn’t know what that story was. Then like when I was a teen and was first bitten by the author bug. I read a book that was the exact genre I was trying to write, a fantasy love story. Halfway to the Grave by: Jeaniene Frost I devoured this book serious like my life depended on it. When I was done reading all the current books at the time I had this idea pop in my head. I sat down at my laptop and I started to write. And within six weeks I had finished my first book. Now this first book I finished was a vampire story. And if you have read anything from me you know I don’t write vampire novels. So not sure if this book will ever see the light of day. But being able to sit down and write a book, and ENTIRE book I learned where my passion was I realized I could write a novel.
I wish I could say that was the end, after that first book was finished I sat down and wrote Shadow Play, my first published book. And once I finished that book I started to shop it out to publishers. And I got a couple that were interested, but what I go the most of was a hole lot of rejection. I was devastated, I had finally found my voice but nobody wanted to publish my book.
So I self published, I would like to say it was the best decision of my life. But self publishing is hard, not saying it is harder than traditional, but I have no way to judge that. Anyway, I self published my book and just about put in my two notice at my day job. Because I had published a book, all the accolades and fans were going to fall at my feet. I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers, I was going to be the next Jeaniene Frost. I knew people were unknowing lining up just to read my book. The reality is so much worse, not only did people not line up in droves but I didn’t ever sell enough books to justify the amount I spent to publish it.
But I loved my story, and I continued to write. I continued to slog through the pages and pages in order to put out something someone would enjoy. That’s what writers do, they write, and write, and write in the hopes of touching someone with there story.
So have the accolades poured in? No. Am I making millions? No. Have I hit the best seller lists? No. And I am currently writing my 5th book, so why do I continue to write? Because I can’t stop, because the there are still stories in my head and imagination that I need to complete. And in the process I have figured out a few things: writing isn’t easy but it’s totally worth it, success is measured in different ways (I don’t have to be a best seller), marketing sucks but its a necessary evil, staying true to myself and my stories mean more than anything, reviews of my books can be harsh but letting those reviews stop only makes me a failure, the torture is worth the delight in seeing my books published.
I don’t know what the future holds for me in my writing career, but I do know writing is in my blood and if no one every reads another of my books I will know I am following my dream.
So my advice to authors/writers wanna be published authors… never give up. If writing is what you love then never let the world and the torture of it all stop you from being an author. You can do it!
So what is the magic bullet… the magic thing… that magic key, the recipe that brings the masses forth from the unknown depths to buy your books? I’ve been pondering that questions as I get ready to publish my next book, my fourth that is. You would think I would have some idea about the secret sauce by now. But the questions and the recipe for the secret sauce is more convoluted now then it was years ago when I first jumped into this mired pool.
I’ve contemplated PR teams, Facebook ads, Facebook apps, twitter ads, twitter apps, Instagram, blogging, emailing, spamming, Pintrest, Goodreads, YouTube, book signings, virtual book signings, Google, Google Play, LinkedIn, Vine, Tumbler, Instagram, Flickr,.. I’ve Social Media myself to death and what have I got out of it??? Mediocre sales and a headache…
Now I’m definitely not saying the readers are not out there, but I wonder as I beat my head against my desk on yet another morning, as I read another article about how to reach those readers if what I have been doing and what I plan on doing is just a waste of time, or a waste of my energy.?!
Is my marketing money wasted in email marketing/blogging/Facebook/twitter…
Here is the conundrum… several years ago or not so many years ago. Something amazing happened. Indie publishing hit it big. And with it these little people who knew nothing of the publishing world became publishers. (Introduce me! I’m taking a bow here, thank you very much.) At the same time, Social Media went bat shit crazy, and we were a match made in heaven.
All us knew authors who knew nothing about marketing, nothing about advertising, had to do was create a Facebook page and we were golden. Readers were meeting authors and vis versa.
It was a symbiotic relationship that was cataclysmic. It all blew up, now I’m not just talking about brick and mortar vs ebooks that blew up, I’m talking about the entire enchilada it splattered all over the wall. Editors, book cover artists, web developers, even developers of writing software. Writing became big business. And we all started co-existing like happy little ameba in a petri dish, when before it was a behind the closed door type of relationship that wasn’t talked about unless you had a signed contract. And even then you didn’t talk about it with other authors, god forbid.
Now days, you share your wonderful editor with your other author friends, you tell your authors about the great graphic artist you used for the cover of your books. You don’t hide these amazing people behind a closed door only used by one publisher. These people are valued and to be passed around because they need to feed their families too. But that’s another blog post.
Back to what I was going on about… when it all took off years back I remember sitting back and thinking how exciting it all was, how wonderful it was to be able to reach out and touch my fans. Or how fantastic it would be to publish a book without needing the backing of the big publishers from NYC backing me. How wonderful it would be to publish as many books as I wanted to a year, instead of just one book a year. (I will be publishing 3 this year!)
But the dust has settled… and I think the readers and even authors are standing back and looking around a little shell shocked wondering exactly the same thing I am… what did we learn from it all? And where have all the fans gone?
The worst part…. There’s a social media expert out there for everything give us all conflicting information when we desperately ask for help.
- Twitter… the fans are out there you just need to post to twitter everyday between 2 and 4 – my book sales are dependent on twitter followers out there who only have an attention span of 140 characters for 2 hours a day? Is that EST time? MST? CST? Wait, maybe its Greenwich Time? SHIT… but I still Twitter…
- Facebook… now I like Facebook, but the ads confuse me and you have to boost everything or good luck getting it out to your fans. Facebook is nickel and diming me out of all my sales. And don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE, and SMILE, and HAHA, and POST everything or a baby elephant is lose his citizenship to the US and have to grant rides to overgrown millionaires children.
- Email List – Demand everyone you know give you their email along with everyone they know and all their relatives so that you can email spam then even though you have promised that you won’t email spam them. But you just can’t help it. But what you email spam them is not really spam because—well its YOU!!! And you would never spam anyone.
- Blog – You must blog everyday for as long as you can, forget everything else that is on your to do list and blog, blog, blog, blog. Your readers want to hear from you ALL THE TIME. BLOG. BLOG BLOG. Did I mention you should blog? Because you should. Blog that is. Then when you post your blog, you should email that shit out. And twitter about it, and Facebook it and make sure you boost that Facebook post because well the elephant don’t forget about the ELEPHANT!
And in the end, do I have any more fans than I did at the beginning? Maybe, a couple? Probably… and the receipt to the secret sauce… it’s still a secret.
But hey if you figure that shit out would you mind passing it along to me I would love to twitter about it or maybe Post it on Facebook? Or email out? I might even Blog about it.