I had a new release that came out January 5. Sales have been awful and I’ve learned a few things. I would LOOOVE to make money for my work, and we really need it (really), but I am soo busy, I can’t beat myself up too much for finally releasing a book that’s been ready for over a year, hanging out and getting dusty, while I had a baby in the NICU and, y’know, stuff.
Anyway, I wanted to share about it just in case there are some people getting ready to publish. More than anything, this is me, talking to myself for the benefit of other people who aren’t newbs and have a slow learning curve (this is my third book).
A) You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. So be ready. Have a launch plan. A serious one with bloggers lined up. Don’t have the time to do all this and write and live? Yeah, I have no answer for you. The time trade off for this book was obviously no readership. The older I get, the more I realize, yes. Time is literally money.
B) If you don’t have a tried and true platform, don’t be crushed if the launch platform didn’t work out so well. You should probably expect it unless you are writing to market with something that’s currently trending. Or its romance, because everyone loves
romance. Even people who say they don’t love romance, secretly love romance. I firmly believe this.
C) Make sure you are putting your work in the right category. There is a limited window where Amazon says “hey, new stuff, readers!! Oh, almost no fantasy readers want to read this book about dogs?” and then the numbers tank. If you pick the wrong genre, the readers who read that genre will say hey, this is not at all something I would like.
Without the right genre, the right readership, and the miraculous snowball’s chance in hell, you won’t succeed. Ok, I’m kidding, that’s obviously not true at all. There are a lot of indie authors out there who I am in awe of. They are living the dream, have an independent income from multiple books and are doing what they love (at this point, there are so so many – Susan Kaye Quinn, Chris Fox, Rachel Aaron, Ryk Brown, etc). Write your craft. Read your Craft. Market smart. Not stupid, like me. Who puts a historical suspense in the paranormal section.
D) You might not be able to figure out why your numbers tanked. But, let’s be clear, if you aren’t writing to market, that’s probably why your numbers tanked. Specifically, in my case, I had crossgenre fiction. Theoretically, it could be fine. I think if it wasn’t an even split and it was more 80/20 and you market toward the 80, cross genre might work better. But even then, you run the risk of ruining 20% of your potential market with people who don’t care for the 20% of your stuff from another genre – unless you don’t run the risk of ruining that 20%… because if they are ‘potential’, they can’t be ruined, can they….? har, har, har.
E) Expect to pay money. Gone are the days, if ever there were days (were there days?) when indie authors could make it without forking out money for advertising. And it’s serious cash for the big ads (e.g. Bookbub).
This is not news to anyone, but for someone like me who is painfully aware of every bit of pocket change that leaves this house, money for advertising is just not there. It means a lot more hoofing your book around, contacting bloggers and author friends with blogs in the endeavor to create the elusive author buzz. And remember how those time constraints exist?
I have the option of continuing to write more or market more. I choose one day a week that’s marketing heavy. The rest of my available evening writing time is spent on new fiction. Because in theory (assuming you’re any good), the more you write, the more books you’ll sell. It’s the whole, “if you build it, they will come” scenario, or so I’ve read.
F) It’s hard not to be discouraged at the tanking numbers, but it’s okay to be discouraged too. Let’s admit that we wanted more and that it didn’t happen. And then get proactive with it and figure out how to make it happen next time. I’ll join you in just one minute, after I stew in my discouragement for a little longer.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you being an indie author is easy. It. Is. Work. If you don’t love writing, try something that offers more instant gratification. I would imagine you’ll do better…. Unless you’re like me: a SAHM to a lot of littles who only writes in the evenings after the kids all go to bed, and sometimes can’t even do that. Then, uh, good luck? No, seriously, good luck.