The Temptation to Do Nothing

No one ever said that being an indie author would be easy. It’s not. It’s hard work and I made my peace with that a long time ago. I never expected to sell thousands or even hundreds of books. I’ve always reminded myself that to sell anything at all is a massive achievement, and I still believe that.

Over the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had a bumpy ride, full of highs and lows, expectations and dreams, disappointments and achievements. Again, I remind myself when I feel thwarted, or dispirited, to look back and see how far I have come. And it works. Mostly. I do sell books every month. I have never had a month without sales since I started in 2013.

Every now and then though, I feel the need to stop, take stock of what’s going on, what’s bothering me or making me anxious, and do nothing. I don’t mean stop writing. I could never do that. If there is one thing I am certain of it’s that I will never ever stop writing and releasing books. I’m desperately addicted to writing, it’s who I am, it saves me on a daily basis, makes life worth living, fulfills me in so many ways, and allows me to release what is inside of me. I love it, and if you follow this blog, you will know that.

It’s trying to sell books that I often consider quitting. Trying to sell books is stressful. Without money, it’s almost impossible. I feel I have worked really hard over the years to build my author platform. Building up this blog, my facebook author page, Instagram, newsletters, you name it. Writing articles for Authors Publish and more. There is nothing I have not tried. Nothing free anyway.

And I guess, to some extent it works. I get sales every month. Some months are better than others and I can never work out how or why. No one ever said that selling books was easy either.

I’ve seen so many indie authors quit over the years. Announce they are closing their blog or their Facebook page, that it’s too hard and they can’t justify the time and effort anymore. I get that totally. But that will never be me, not while I still have so many books lined up to write.

Selling books is hard if you are naturally an introvert. You’re drawing attention to yourself. You’re saying, hey look at me! Look over here! Buy my books! You’re sending out free copies with your newsletter. You’re offering people ARC copies of upcoming releases. You’re contacting reviewers and bloggers for help. You’re messaging friends and relatives to see if they’re interested. You’re setting up street teams and asking for help. Introverts do not like asking for help. Introverts will do everything themselves and then cry about it. There’s a martyr inside every one of us, I swear.

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It makes us uncomfortable. And then come the rejections. Of course, you’re used to rejection if you’re a writer. You’ve got the scars from endless rejections from agents and publishers. You put on your big girl pants and went solo. Became an indie. Fab stuff. Only now there’s no one to help you, you have to force yourself to be brave, day in, day out. Put on a big professional sunny convincing smile when really you just want to climb under your duvet and hide.

I’ve had a lot of disappointments lately. I’m not going to go into them, because I really don’t want this to be a pity party. I hate it when authors moan on social media about being an author and not getting sales. I don’t want to be that person. This isn’t really about sales either. This is about being tired.

I’m tired of doing everything I can only to have it not make an impact. I’m tired of giving away free books that people don’t then review. I’m tired of the expense of sending out paperbacks that people don’t then review. I’m tired of asking and hoping and suggesting that people share my posts, comment, read or review. I’m tired of feeling like I am wasting my time. I’m tired of sharing my books on Twitter and Facebook when I know there is no point. Every time my finger hovers over the share button I’m so tempted to do nothing. And every now and again I let it win and I go with the temptation to do nothing and I hide away I write my books and my blogs and my poems and I hide away from sharing and trying to sell.

Maybe it does me some good every now and then to have a little retreat from the business of selling and just focus on the writing. I am so tempted to do that again right now. But then I feel guilty about my books, and I so want people to read them, I don’t want to quit or be a quitter. Maybe I just need a rest. A chance to refuel and come back stronger.

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Because if you don’t try, you can’t fail. There’s nothing to lose. But if you do try, and try and try, then you have to deal with the inevitable disappointments. It’s tempting not to try, believe me. And I’ve been here before. I didn’t try to publish my books until I was in my mid-thirties. All those years I wasted because I was too afraid of failure to even try. I got over that somehow, and I’ve moved on. But there it is again, the urge to do nothing. If my books don’t sell, it’s because I’m not trying and that’s easier to deal with.

But then I got thinking and I remembered a quote from a song that I once decided would look good on my gravestone. This is the full quote;

Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,
Not everyone was born to be a king,
Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury,
But everyone can raise their glass and sing.
Well I haven’t always been a perfect person,
Well I haven’t done what mum and dad had dreamed,
But on the day I die, I’ll say at least I fucking tried.
That’s the only eulogy I need,
That’s the only eulogy I need.

(Eulogy, by Frank Turner)

It struck a chord with me the first time I heard it, and I laughed and joked that I’d have those words on my headstone. At least I fucking tried…

Some days that doesn’t feel like enough.

Other days, calmer days, sunnier days, it really, really does.

Because it’s pretty fucking brave to keep trying.

It would be so much easier to quit. And I’m going to have those days. I’m always going to have those days. I’m going to wallow in it some days. I’m going to cry about it on others. I’m going to seethe and fret and grumble and moan. Mostly to myself. I’m always going to have days where self-doubt gets it claws into me and won’t let go. I’m going to hear those voices in my head that have been with me for so long…you’re rubbish, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re a joke…

But that’s okay. That’s being human. Deep inside, we all want attention, we want validation, we want to know what we’re doing is worthwhile and appreciated, and when we don’t quite get that, we turn on ourselves pretty viciously.

But I suppose the thing is to let those days run their course, as they will do, again and again, but then come out of the other side and just keep going. Just keep doing it anyway. Because at least you can say you gave it your best. So for now at least, for me, it’s business as usual. The temptation to do nothing has not won.

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Book Promo Plan (Getting my arse into gear)

It’s about time I made a proper plan.

Now, I’m not really a plan kind of person. I will freely admit that I do not have the remotest touch of OCD or perfectionism of any kind. I am by nature a messy, laidback, go with the flow kind of girl. I don’t need all my picture frames to be straight on the wall. I don’t need my books organised in height level on the bookshelves. I don’t mind a bit of dust here, a cobweb or two there, or sticky fingers on the windows and walls.

But when it comes to promoting my books, something needs to change. I need to sort it out. I need to work it out. I need a proper plan and I need to stick to it. Now, like I’ve mentioned before, I do all the right things, or at least I think I do. I pick up tips and advice all the time. I just don’t always find the time to follow through with them. I make great lists. I am a list sort of person. Lists are great, because without lists and remind-me notes, I would be living an even more haphazard life than I already am!

Just recently I signed up to a free on-line course by a successful author. Daily emails came through with tips on everything you can think of. Some of these emails contained links to join up to more courses, so I did, and one of these was a Book Launch course. No, I haven’t done it yet. I don’t have the time! I am sure I will get to it eventually, and I am sure I will make some lists of things I should be doing to promote my books. Maybe this blog post, this ‘plan’ will be the first step in me getting it together with all this. Well, I’ll aim for it.

So far, my approach to promoting my books has been sketchy, disjointed, back to front and upside down. I’m not joking. I have never done a book launch thing. Not sure how to. (Haven’t read those emails yet, remember?) I have never done the promo before the book release. Well, not really. Not unless posting on my Facebook author page counts for much, which I doubt. I don’t have a marketing strategy, and I don’t even know what one is. When I started all this two years ago, all I thought about was writing. To me, writing was, and still is, the most important thing. I learnt the hard way, like a lot of indies. Getting a book out there and patting yourself on the back for making a dream come true does not automatically guarantee you sales. Not even from friends and family. It is much, much harder than that. And I have learnt. And I have come a long way. Things have changed, and things are always getting better.

But! I still feel I am missing a trick. I see and hear other authors talking about their sales and I start to think; what the hell am I doing wrong here? How can I reach more people? I still feel like such a novice. It’s never too late for me to start better promoting the books I already have out there, but what better way to get my head around this marketing plan thing, than to start with a brand new book? In other words, try to get it right this time? So this plan will go into action as of now with my brand new book The Tree Of Rebels. This book won’t be released for some time as it is only in the third draft. But I can start the ground work now, right? Isn’t that what they say? And if it makes a difference I can then apply this plan to all future books!

So here is the plan. Tell me what you think. Tell me yours! Please feel free to comment. Let me know what else I need!

1) Write first draft (done)

2) Write second draft (done)

3) Send out to at least three beta readers (in progress)

4) Receive feedback/critique and start third draft – make better!(now in progress)

5) Fourth/Fifth/sixth – you know the score – until it is done

6) Arrange front cover (done)

7) Enter in competition to drum up promo (done already!)(noooo, this competition is now cancelled, so need another idea here!)

8) Write short stories inspired by the book to draw people in and get them interested in the whole book and post these on Wattpad and blog (in progress)

9) Post segments of actual novel on blog and share

10) Create Pinterest storyboard, make memes with quotes and images and share

11) Approach people for advanced reviews

12) Get the street team involved in promoting/sharing/reviewing in advance

13) Start a countdown to cover reveal on FB page

14) Sort out ebook and print book at SAME time so that both are available at the SAME time and people don’t have to wait ages for me to faff about getting prints done!

15) Announce a release date for both

16) Contact as many promo sites as can (free ones and pay for ones)

17) Do same with review sites

18) Create a release day event on FB and get other authors to guest and join in with q and a sessions and their own giveaways etc

19) Email everyone I know about release date and release event

20) Have release day event on day of release!!!

BOOM!!!

So ,what do you think??

Well, it’s an improvement on what I’ve done so far anyway. This feels more professional and organised, and when I forget what I am meant to be doing I can refer back to this post and remind myself. Thanks for reading, don’t forget to add your comments and suggestions re book promotions.