In Case You Missed It…

For those who missed my LIVE Q&A on Tuesday, here ya go:

 

 

 

LIVE Q&A with me, TONIGHT!

I’m doing a Google Hangout tonight, 10/14, 7-8 pm ET.

Come join me as I discuss my books, self-publishing, and other writing stuff. Tell a friend!

Five Miles to Empty

One of the hazards of starting out in self-publishing (or any entrepreneurial endeavor) is the lack of funding. Most people don’t save up a nest egg from which they can procure any manner of needed services (e.g. editing, marketing, accounting) at whim. And, as I have mentioned countless times before, it takes time to build up a loyal fan base that will automatically buy hundreds and thousands of your books upon release.  So, it’s a lot of do-it-yourself (DIY).

The problem with DIY is exhaustion. If you treat your writing like a full-time job (minus the nice corporate benefits and a spot in the company cubicle farm–and especially due to a lack thereof), then you will be hustling from “sunup to midnight”, in the words of the late, great, Michael Jackson in his song “Workin’ Day and Night”:

Add to this the fact that the rest of your non-work life doesn’t stop, and you set yourself up for fatigue, exhaustion, and don’t-give-a-figness. I’m there right about now. I have a new book looming in a few weeks, and a short story surrounding this book, and I have not done a lick of marketing. None. Zero. It’s not difficult; all it takes is a quick Tweet, a few seconds to post on Facebook and Google Plus, perhaps some sort of Instagram photo. Preliminary PR is right at my fingertips, but I can’t bring myself to exert the energy to put it out there. Meanwhile, I have the energy to write this blog post and binge-watch past seasons of Grey’s Anatomy…go figure.

It could be mental exhaustion (because my non-writing life is commanding a lot of attention these days). It could be a crippling fear of failure (second book curse, and all that). It could be recovery from a punishing and long round of antibiotics (but I’m back to my 3-mile-a-day walks, so that’s good). It could be a lack of marketing inspiration (e.g., what can I say/do differently from the release of The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille to get Blizzard: A Sebastian Scott Novel hyped to the masses) Whatever the reason, I need to get it together, and get it together soon. I can’t afford to slack off, because that would mean a lack of sales and as I’ve said before: if it don’t make money, it don’t make sense.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Don’t Believe the Hype

As an author, especially a self-published author, it’s easy to get caught up on numbers: sales ranks. Bestseller list position. Royalty amounts. Social media followers. Likes/retweets/Pins/shares. Trying to gauge these things will make you crazy, especially when you realize that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Luvvie Ajayi, popular blogger, recently discussed the trend of bloggers purchasing followers, site traffic, and the like. She spoke of the need for bloggers  and other content creators to pay attention to the numbers in a different way: pull the curtain back and see if those numbers are real.

This is a problem I’ve run into when feeling out potential social media managers for myself. The ones I’ve encountered all all abut numbers, numbers, numbers. While there is some validity in that sentiment with regard to visibility, it’s not a one-size-fit-all approach. My writing really is geared toward a target demographic, which in itself is rather small. Because of that, I don’t expect huge sales numbers (but I am willing to be pleasantly surprised!). I know who likes my books, and who reads my books. Expanding that circle may net me a few more readers, but if the net is being cast across the waters of an audience that doesn’t really care–and therefore, won’t engage–that energy is not spent well.

For writers, those of us who sell books, it’s a bit different. Unless you are a big name (e.g., Stephen King, Terry McMillan, Nora Roberts, Eric Jerome Dickey, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) and/or on a major publishing platform, we don’t usually see the types of numbers provided bloggers–in terms of sales, that is. Not understanding this leads to a lot of unnecessary angst.

 

One of my old bosses once told me, “If you want a good review, write a good book.”  Likewise, if you provide quality content, the “numbers” won’t matter because your loyal following will keep you afloat. So what if you don’t reach #1 on the Amazon Sales Rank? It’s better to have only a few hundred, or thousand, people buy EACH of your books, than tens of thousands on ONE book and nada on the rest.

So chill with the numbers game. Sit back, take a deep breath, and write what brings you joy. A Twitter follower of Charles M. Blow (author of Fire Shut Up In My Bones), said it best:

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

The Social Media Shuffle

I recently consulted a social media expert (who happens to be a member of my sorority, and who also provides social media services to the sorority at the national level) to figure out how to best maximize my exposure. Since this is my first book, and I am a self-published author, I have to work twice as hard in order to gain half the exposure of a traditionally published author.  She reviewed my latest newsletter and recommended that I really work social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc) to get my name out there.

Well…that sucks. :/

Not because I don’t realize the necessity of this, given the technological strides we’ve made in our society, but because social media management is a full-time job, and it’s hard to do that AND create a product that requires promotion on social media.  Plus, let’s keep it real: I am of a certain age, and have the most basic understanding of social media versus someone who was born with a smartphone in their hand, and with a Tumblr account. I know how to Twit (yes, I said “twit”, as I prefer it to “Tweet”), post on FB, LinkedIn, and Google Plus; I have a Tumblr account that I rarely check. But that’s about it. For all those multi-layered nuances that so many social media experts send newsletters about, well…I’m not on that level, and can’t afford to hire someone on that level right now.

(sidebar: if there are any college students who want to manage my social media for free, holler. Serious inquiries only.).

The good news is, a lot of the products I use are integrated with each other so that I only have to post to one place/site, and it shows up on other sites (Bless you, WordPress!). Still, the social media sorority sister suggested that I actually post unique content to the aforementioned sites, as a way of providing a more intimate feel with my audience.

Prince WTF look lip curl

Lookie here, I pour out my angst, euphoria, on my blog; I have to do it elsewhere too? This is too much for my little life. But alas, if I want to be marketable, it’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make…kicking, screaming,and Twitting all the way.

Oh, and I now have an official Amazon.com Author Page. Check it out!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Keeping the Glow Alive

One of the hardest things for an author to sustain is book buzz. I’m talking about after all of the pre-release and release sizzle has died down, and the slight bump in interest that occurs after delivery of a monthly newsletter or other reader-oriented correspondence.

Ironically, my core demographic (35+ years of age) is one that is no stranger to patience. Most of us grew up in a time before email or smartphones, when computers ran on BASIC code (shoutouts to the original Apple and the Radio Shack Tandy 1000 computers), and meals (or even leftovers) were heated in an oven–you know, that big, cavernous part in the front and center of a stove. The closest things we had to quickie meals were cake mix, TV dinners, and JiffyPop popcorn (which was cooked on top of the stove). Microwaves didn’t become popular until many of us were in middle school; some branches of my family didn’t get one until my junior year of high school. Knowledge was garnered from books, not Google or Wikipedia, and we had to physically go to the library (shoutout to the Dewey Decimal System), for those of us not fortunate to have a set of the faux leather-bound Encyclopedia Brittanica in the home.

Plainly put, we mastered the art of patience. We didn’t have a choice. Ad a result, most of the general marketing tactics used to generate and boost sales don’t really work. Most can resist the urgency to BUY NOWNOWNOW, especially when there are more pressing concerns and expenses. We know the difference between a want and a need, and adjust our resources and expectations accordingly.

I’m alternately frustrated and amused, and I am in this gray zone right now. How do I keep the interest in my book(s) alive (present and future)? How do I market to a demographic that has been there, done that, and heard maybe not all, but a lot? A lot of my readers are parents; as such, they are used to hyperbole and (attempted) manipulation–both by their offspring, and by the environments in which their offspring navigate on a daily basis. This results in a BS detector that is finely tuned, at best, and functional at worst. Getting past such internal gatekeeping is like Jason trying to get past the Minotaur: difficult, though not impossible.

There are countless books, websites, newsletters, etc with marketing advice, gimmicks, etc. Unfortunately for me, they address broadstroke demographicd and generalized techniques. General ain’t gonna work on my core demographic. 🙂 I have to figure out something fresh that appeals to their sensibility without trying to come off like a used car salesman. If I could afford a marketing guru, I would probably hire one–but that’s a few books away, yet. Until them, I will continue to marinate upon it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Goodreads, Dentists, and Tapping Out

 

Thanks to prodding from a friend, I now have a Goodreads account. Feel free to stop by and peruse, and leave a review (if you happen to have stumbled across the book on Amazon or Nook ;)) should you feel inclined. 😀

My morning started out inauspiciously with an excruciating toothache at 3:30 am. It was so bad, I was calling on every deity I could think of for relief…and my generic Aleve had expired. *fights the air* I managed to find my last 800-mg Motrin tablet, and that plus an ice pack gave me enough relief to sleep. The morning looked up when my dentist’s office called and said they had a last-minute cancellation, and did I want to move up my afternoon appointment instead?

YES, PLEASE! *happy dance* I was wondering how I was going to eat something, since food (courtesy of an abcess) made the area beneath a tooth throb mercilessly.

Two hours, multiple x-rays, a teeth cleaning and a treatment later, I left the dentist’s office with a follow-up appointment for a deeper cleaning, and prescriptions for an antibiotic and painkillers. After dinner, I was quite thankful for the meds, which ended up being quite affordable. Obamacare FTW!

Oh, and I also walked 3.5 miles today.

Needless to say, I’ll probably tap out early tonight…I will try to stay awake for Graceland.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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As always, thanks for stopping by!

Could It All Be So Simple…

I spent yesterday making changes to the print copy proof of The Camille Chronicles. Then I did a bit of writing, and set up some merchant accounts, and lined things up for the pre-release next week. Then I watched back episodes of NCIS (the Ziva days!).

That was it. And it felt strange.

Perhaps it’s a holdover from my days in Corporate America. Perhaps it’s our societal culture that mandates that doing is more important than not doing, even if you’re not doing anything significant. The confluence of both influences leads to a feeling of guilt when I take time to rest, or do something fun…something not work-related.

The strange feeling also comes from the fact that my “work” is now writing (it took me fourteen years to get to this point, so I’ve got a lot of personal deprogramming to do LOL). And while creating the book is key (you can’t really be an author if you don’t write anything), writing is also a business–at least, it is if you want to last as an author, and make money from your craft in the process. So since I’m starting out as a self-published author and don’t yet have anyone do to the grunt work for me, it’s left for me to do pesky things like setting up merchant accounts, maintaining social media sites, marketing, and anything else that positions my current and future books for maximum positive reception from the public. It’s things like those that remind me that the publishing and media business is, indeed, a business, and I must treat it accordingly. No creative person, in whatever media, can afford to play the dillettante artist and only focus on the craft. Even if you sell and distribute work through more traditional channels, you still have to look out for your best interests because you can’t depend on those around you to do it for you. Yes, this includes those whom you hire to do just that.

I say all this to say that, work doesn’t have to be a struggle. Life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Too often, we make it so because we think we have to (I am guilty of this). So much that when we enter an easier way of life, it feels strange. Life is too short for the madness, and madness takes its toll–make sure you have correct change. 😉

As the character Lydia Grant once said in the movie (and eventual TV show) Fame: “You want fame? Then fame costs. And right here is where you start paying…in sweat.”

 

Sweat is an essential part of building anything from scratch, but there is something to be said for working smarter, not harder.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 8

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 991

Total words written: 5,590 words

I almost forgot to work on the Clarion project today, as I was working on the marketing stuff for my upcoming book, The Camille Chronicles. When you’re self-publishing, you wear many hats–at least, until I can afford to have someone do it for me.

The story flowed pretty well today. I tried to figure out if my main character would really be that naive about office politics, or if it was a bit of a reach. Then I remember, from my days in Corporate America, that  there were people who didn’t have a clue beyond their workloads. Such folks tended to be blindsided by various corporate decisions and were under the impression (delusion?) that all was required was to show up and do their work. I know; I used to be one of them.

Anyway, the way the story is flowing, I’m going to write a rather action-packed scene coming up. How much blood and gore will be included will be determined as I go along.

Thanks for stopping by.

Aside

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