There is no money in writing a novel. Maybe there is- I just haven’t discovered it yet.
So, I did what any other middle-aged woman would have done- I embarked on a mission to discover how to generate sales, hype up excitement, and create a following.
This is what I have learned:
I have had a website for over two years. My official writing career started right after I got out of the military when I wrote my first blog. First, I used the Wix website, which was good- but not stellar. Looking back, that was more because I didn’t know what I was doing than the website program. Then I switched to WordPress because that was where all the ‘serious’ bloggers were. Two years have passed, and I am 60% happy with what I created.
Some of the bloggers I follow have over 1,000 followers. They are the influencers of the written word. Within 15 minutes of them posting, they had 53 likes, 22 comments, and it had been shared at least six times. I post a blog, and it feels like I am fighting a horde of raging cows to get a single click.
The issue? You have to subscribe to WordPress to like a blog post. Now, I could pay to have my own domain and share my causal musings of medicated, overweight, and struggling writer life- but I am currently making -$22.34 an hour with my book, so that is on the back burner for the time being.
I have created one. I even sent out my first one at the end of January to all of my 13 subscribers. It took three days to create, and two of the links didn’t work- but I made one.
Newsletters are like trying out a brand-new recipe. It may or may not work the first time around. I think I added too much salt and not enough pepper to my first one. Maybe I didn’t let it cook enough to really entice people to want to read it. What really got me was that you need to market your newsletter. I am still trying to market my book, so that has thrown me for a loop.
Let’s add that to the weekly list of crap to do. Perfect! I have plenty of time… the floors don’t REALLY need to be mopped, right?
This one is difficult. Yes, I want the shiny gold medal on my book that says ‘Winner’ or ‘Readers Favorite.’ But did you know that you have to pay to enter? I think I mentioned that I was already losing $567.98 an hour as a writer. Can I pass my debt on to my kids when I die? Because right now, it looks like they are inheriting an unused mop and a dusty vacuum when I pass on.
Have I entered a contest? I did, back during the first week of my book being on Amazon, when the world was my oyster. Back then, I had high hopes of being invited to New York City to talk to a huge publishing company that wanted my book. Now? I hope to generate enough sales to cover filling up my gas tank to get to my ‘real’ job.
It’s not about having followers. You need to engage your followers. You need to create funny memes, hype videos, YouTube videos, short stories, give a peek into your upcoming book, AND comment on your followers’ posts. It’s a full-time job. And may God help you if you miss ‘Self-Promotion Wednesday’! You have another week to wait before you can post the link to your book, website, and newsletter.
And then, just to add to the stress- Facebook LOVES to let you know when your engagement is down. This week alone, my engagement dropped 22% because work actually made me work, and my family needed some attention.
And can we talk about ‘#’? The dreaded hashtags! What in the world do they do? Why do I have a two-sentence social media posting but 36 hashtags? Do the hashtags lead somewhere? Is there a mythical world that only hashtag users know about? Maybe it will transport me to Hogwarts, where I will learn a new spell to increase book sales. I just don’t know!
You need to do it all. That is the joy of owning a small business, even if it is publishing a book. A book is a small business. Hours upon hours are going to be spent creating the finest ‘storefront.’ However, there will still be days that no one comes in to buy your homemade dog blankets or all-natural jams. I know this for a fact because I spent Sunday afternoon in my favorite small town wandering the boutique shops- and didn’t buy anything but a cup of coffee and a pastry that my dogs ended up eating for me.
Am I giving up? No…. but I thought about it this morning at 3:00 am when I woke up from a panic attack. I dreamt that I had died, and all my unsold books were buried with me in a coffin that could fit a full-grown elephant. Pleasant thoughts!
I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I am sure that at some point in the future, I will look back on this post and laugh at myself. You know- when I am flying first class to a far-off destination on a mid-winter vacation to celebrate my 50th book sale. Only 38 more copies to go!!!! Totally doable.
Anyhoo, if you are still reading this… I have a book for sale. I think it’s pretty good- I sold seven copies in the last two weeks. I will include the link if you want a copy or need a last-minute gift for a co-worker’s birthday. It even is handy to swat at your significant other when they decide to argue with you about accidentally forgetting about your anniversary because you were making memes.
The Writer and the Librarian-