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The Best Intentions versus Follow Through

Sometimes I avoid honesty and give vague responses when asked specifics.  I’m going to use brutal honesty this time, embarrassing and sad as it is.

“How’s the book launch going?” I’ve heard (or had it messaged to me) several times since last Friday.  My responses have ranged from, “Hard to tell yet,” to “Could be a bit better.”

Lies!

It’s not hard to tell when books are sold on Kindle or CreateSpace (both part of Amazon).  I can look it up in almost real time.  I just didn’t want to believe the results myself, let alone admit to anyone else how much my brand new baby book is not selling. One of the most puzzling things is that my first book, which nobody even knew about until after I launched it, did slightly better than this one, the one people were excited and supportive about…until I launched it.

Of course, that’s not quite fair.  People are still excited and supportive, all the way to the point before purchase.

I have sold exactly 20 books right now.  Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate those 20 sales.  I truly do.  And I’ll appreciate them even more if the buyers read and review them on Amazon and Goodreads.   I guess I had just set my sights higher for this book and I’ve put so much in to not only the writing and editing, but also the promotion, which is the hardest part.

I never wanted to be the whiny baby about my book sales, at least not publicly.  I usually keep a smile about it, and maybe crack jokes, even if I’m kicking my feet and throwing a tantrum on the inside.  I’m not an all caps kind of girl, so this must be important:

THIS IS NOT A PITY PARTY. IT’S AN AWARENESS INTERVENTION.

Yes, I’m feeling down about my book not hitting number one overnight.  Actually, my personal goal was 100 sales on my opening weekend.  What can I say? I’ve learned to set my goals often higher than a reasonable result should be expected.  But with the support I was feeling on the way into the launch, it seemed reasonable. Something went wrong.  Maybe a few things went wrong.

My theories:

1) People generally do have the best intentions, but may lack follow through.  Life is full of distractions, and we’re surrounded by life on a daily basis.  I believe with all my heart that there are several people who tell themselves when they see something that reminds them about my book, “Oh, yeah, I want to get that.” And they really do want to, but then life happens and they simply forget.

2) People just assume the book is doing fine.  Unless you have gone through promoting a book yourself, it’s unlikely you would really comprehend how much work and how hard it is.

3) People tell themselves they’ll do it later. Because of number 1. Or maybe they are reading other books and decide they’ll get mine when they’re ready.  That’s what I would probably do because I already have so many books I want to read.

4) People want to be supportive because they think it’s really cool that I wrote two books now, but maybe the book content just is not appealing.  Not everyone is cut out for reading about a teenage girl, after all.

My solutions to the theories:

1) This is the hard one.  Write it down on a to do list or something.  It’s actually super easy to do just about any time because you can order from home, right from your computer, at any time of the day or night, and it hardly takes up any time.

2) It doesn’t matter how well-written and witty my book is.  If people don’t know it exists, they cannot buy/read it.  I need everyone I know to be part of my marketing team. Word of mouth recommendations are huge!

3) I appreciate that people who love to read are generally in the middle of one, two, or ten books at once already.  It can become overwhelming.  I would ask that if you know you want to read it at some point to go ahead and make the purchase now.  The better my book performs in sales right now, the better the chance I can keep the momentum rolling longer.  Then help me out with a review once you get a chance to read it.

4) I could argue that the book is entertaining no matter who you are, because I believe anyone who has ever experienced being a freshman or who lived during the early ’90s can relate, which is true, but some people just aren’t going to believe me.  That’s fine, but you know people who would enjoy it.  If you’re not going to read it, pass the word on to others, or buy it a gift form someone.

I’m not going to lose my passion and optimism.  My book is good and I believe in it.  I think once people read it, they’ll feel compelled to tell others.  I just need to get it into some hands for that to happen. I’m grateful for the people who have bought my book and those who are spreading the word.  Please don’t stop. I need you.

 

selling books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I Go Again

On display at Chumley's in New York.

On display at Chumley’s in New York.

It has now been almost a year since I self published my book Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: the Middle-ish Ages, sending it into cyber space, with no equipment, to mostly fend for itself.  I discovered later on exactly how cruel that was. The thing is… I went about it all wrong.  I wrote the book over the course of a couple summers off in the first few years I taught.  Then it just hung out on my computer for a few more years.

My first mistake:  Since I was a kid I had known I would write books.  Most of the people around me when I was younger knew that was my dream as well.  Then I grew up, moved a few times, started a new life, and I stopped talking to people about it because it wasn’t a practical way to make a living and I was writing less anyway.  I don’t mind bragging or talking about myself on social media or in my blog, but in the real world, I’m an introvert and I don’t really know how to bring up stuff like this.  Therefore, few people in my world had a clue that I wrote, let alone that it had been a lifelong dream to publish anything.  Since nobody knew, nobody was there to encourage me.  Not even my husband knew what this meant to me.  You’ve got to tell people your dreams.

My second mistake:  I felt like maybe as an adult I should forget holding onto childish dreams.  Many people claim to be “writers,” but that doesn’t mean they’re any good at it, and I was so afraid of finding out I was in that category.  I let go of my dream.  It was easier than putting myself out there and getting hurt.

My third mistake:  Impatience or desperation or cluelessness.  I do not think I made a mistake in self publishing an ebook, but I do feel I should have known more about it and all my options first.  I really wanted to publish my book with a “real” publishing firm and be able to smell its pages and hold it in my hands, but as I began to research the industry I was disheartened at how long it could take to see that happen and how the physical book publishing world seems to be changing so much that the odds of getting a book published that way seem even closer to impossible than they were previously.  Nobody takes unsolicited manuscripts anymore; you must have an agent.  The process of getting an agent is as time consuming and difficult as getting a publisher used to be, and then the agent must work on the publication submissions and rejections, and he or she gets a cut of whatever the writer makes, and the writer still has to do his or her own promoting. This whole process began to feel more and more hopeless, and I began to wonder who could get anything published these days.

That is when I began thinking more seriously of the ebook idea.  At least I could get my book “out there.”  It was doing no good to anyone just sitting on my computer, collecting virtual dust and reminding me of the dream I let die.  With the exponential growth of technological advancements, it seemed like my only reasonable and timely chance.  The thing with changing technology (which, by the way, is a big part of why the print publication industry is changing so rapidly now and becoming more difficult to navigate), is that ebooks are only now really catching on and the know how of it is still new.  And so, I had no know how.  I really didn’t have an inkling of where to begin and I only had my summer months off to figure it out, which is not much time in the grand scheme of things.  I consulted a friend of mine who had self published her own ebook (Sarah Reckenwald and Flames in the Midst) and she was quite helpful and supportive, but she was still just learning too.

I felt the pressure of my quickly fading summer, as if the small spark of hope to revive my dream was again fading as well, and I just went for it.  A week before I had to start back to school for my pre-planning week, I  launched Memoirs onto Amazon’s Kindle, of which there is absolutely nothing wrong.  The part that became my mistake, was that other than creating an author page on Facebook and spreading the word about my book via my own Facebook profile, I did little else.  Remember, I never talked it up to anybody, so for most people I knew, it came out of nowhere.  Also, I missed so many opportunities to hype it up ahead of time and to keep the excitement up because I did not know how to promote myself.  I just wanted it up and hoped people would stumble across it because I knew it was awesome.  But that is NOT how it works.

So now that I have no current day job, being a writer and a self promoter has become my day job, so I am taking a step back and learning more about putting myself out there.  I’ve only just begun; there is much to learn, but I’m excited to do it.  I will care for and nurture my book, and it will have a fresh chance.

I do get a decent following on my Facebook author page, considering I’ve done so little to promote myself.  I just launched into the world of twitter as @DrewHotchner (my protagonist), and am looking into other places to publish Memoirs, including the possibility of doing a print on demand option since I tend to get some people who are still afraid of technology but do want to read the book.  I’ll keep you all posted.