Author, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Publish, Writing

Book sales … get real!

Let’s be honest about expectations. Every debut author dreams their book will be the one the publishing fairy touches with her magic wand. Their book will “go viral” in digital speak, and suddenly the whole world will buy, read, and talk about it. Like I said, we dream.

When I awoke, I convinced myself I never wanted to be a literary superstar anyway. The reality is that most traditionally published debut novels sell less than 1,000 copies. Knowing mine would be self-published, I set my sales goal far lower. And, reminded that my original goal was just to share my writing with a few others who might enjoy it, I was okay with that.

But along the way, I became infected by the marketing bug. It fed on the green-eyed jealousy monster. Other self-published authors were getting their 15-minutes of fame, along with a hefty royalty check. Why not me? It could be me! It would be me, if only, I did this … or that … or the other. If I wasn’t selling at least 100 copies a day, it’s only because I wasn’t marketing the book right. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I believed.

The problem is I believed that should be my expectation for my very first published novel. I know. None of you are that dumb. You would know it takes time. It takes several published works before you can even hope for those sales totals. Or you have to have incredible luck … or be Oprah’s best friend … or something.

I have only one book—a good book—but only one. It’s time to sink or swim. Fish or cut bait. Put up or shut up. It’s time to write another book because Harper Lee, I’m not.

And then someday …

Agent, Blog Stuff, Fiction, Opinion, Query, Writing

Guest posting, follow me

Blogger friend, Jennifer Neri, asked me to guest post at her blog. She suggested some topics, but then she asked me a question: Now that you’ve self-published, would you ever query agents again? Go to Jennifer’s blog to read my response.

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Fiction, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Publish, Reader, Writing

The agony and ecstasy of self-publishing a book!

Let’s discuss the ecstasy first. You publish a book. Yay! Family and friends read it right away. Then a few acquaintances read it. Finally, a few friends of friends or acquaintances of acquaintances discover it. You receive glowing reviews. People tell you they love the book. Your writing is a success!

Thank God for those early readers, but family, friends, and acquaintances are a limited number. For many of us, that’s a very small number. Naturally, we want more readers. And more. And more. Think potato chips … or Junior Mints.

I confess my impatience. I want everyone to read The Brevity of Roses now … today … right this minute! Of course, that’s not going to happen. I don’t remember any of the self-publishing advice naming Patience as a required virtue. If it was mentioned, I must have glossed over it in my … um … impatience.

Now, we’ve reached the agony. You have a book you love and want to share, but have to wait for readers to find it. In my ignorance, I imagined that word of mouth would spark a firestorm of readers burning through the pages—and I imagined that chain-reaction would start immediately. Didn’t happen that way. Still, there’s hope because I know that people intend to read it. How do I know this?

A few people have directly told me they intend to read my book. I believe they will. Last month I gave away a copy of Brevity on Goodreads. Hundreds of people entered the giveaway, but I would be naïve to think all those people actually intended to read the novel. However, over eighty of those people also added Brevity to their To-Read lists on Goodreads. Will they all read it? I doubt it, though a percentage of them probably will.

Then I got a boost from Women on the Verge. Each month they select members’ books to highlight on their front page, and currently The Brevity of Roses is one of those. Every day since WOTV highlighted it, more Goodreads members have added it to their lists. Some of them will surely read it.

There’s no way to know how many people might have added my novel to their “want lists” at Amazon or any other online bookstore,  or even jotted it down on a to-read list at home, but I’m sure some have. On a good day, I imagine hundreds have done so … and untold thousands may do so from future promotional efforts.

These people are my eventual readers. These people keep my hopes up. These people—potential bearers of ecstasy—make the agony of having a published book easier to bear.

Patience.

Craft, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Publish, Writing

Do you write like a tortoise or a hare?

May was a stressful month for me. The fun and excitement of self-publishing my first novel the month before had worn off, and I was hard at work. I spent the month working daily to promote my book in various ways, which is a requirement for all authors, no matter how their books were published.

All that time, I kept reading how important it is to get my next book ready for publication. The gurus say that the secret to great sales for indie authors is to fill a “shelf” with your books. The more books you have to offer, the more your fans will buy.

In traditional publishing, it usually takes at least a year and a half from the time an editor buys your book to the day it hits the bookstore shelves. That means you have a good amount of time to write and polish your next book. Traditional publishing suits a tortoise writer.

I think self-publishing works best for hares. If true, this is bad news for me. I’m a tortoise. I’m writing again. I’m working on the next book. But it will be awhile before it’s ready to publish. I don’t write fast or I should say, I don’t write well fast.

That frustrated me. In fact, I was so stressed, I couldn’t write at all. I thought the problem stemmed from what I was writing, so I switched to something else—something I thought I could write faster. That only made matters worse. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to write that. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to think about publication for a while.

Now, I’m writing what I want to. This new novel will take a while to be publish-ready. Not as long as The Brevity of Roses did, but it will take several months, at least. This time, the hare will win the race. I’m all right with that. I’ll cross the finish line eventually.

Which kind of writer are you … tortoise or hare?

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Advice, Block, Craft, Doubt, Fiction, Publish, Short story, Writing

A story! A story? A tale of fear!

All my sources tell me that, as a new indie author, I need to publish more work soon. Writing a novel is not quick work for me. I have a story that might run novella length—might. I haven’t written it yet, of course. Another option is a short story collection.

Until the last couple of years, I’ve never been a big short story reader. I’ve written some, but they were for my own eyes. But, in the last year, I’ve greatly increased the number of short stories I read. I also read articles on how to write short fiction. I’m still not sure I get it.

I’m also not sure why I don’t get it. It’s almost as though I have a mental block. I think I write a beginning, middle, and end, but it doesn’t seem like a story to me. Is it a vignette? Is that a story?

Does a story require a moral? A lesson? A reason to exist? Am I over-thinking this? Probably. I fear I can’t write short stories. Then again, I fear I can’t write anything. FEAR.

I’d like to say I bravely take up my pen keyboard and wield it like a sword, but that would be a lie. The truth is I sit here quivering. I sit here wishing, hoping, praying that the words I’m typing make sense … have a purpose … tell a story.

That’s what I’m busy with nowadays. And I thank Christ Craig for her recent post reminding me that I have to face that fear or I’ll never know if I’ve written a story at all.

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