So this is kind of a “Things I Learned Today” post. If you’re new to my site, I write a series of posts where I discuss things I’ve learned as a newbie author in the hopes of helping other new authors. Some of these posts are “Financial Mistakes of a New Author,” “How to Run a Blog Tour/Release Day Blitz,” and “What Did/Didn’t Work in 2014 for a New Author.”
But this post is more of a lesson that suddenly dawned on me and one I’m struggling to put into practice.
I have to get over myself.
So in 2014, I published four books and one novella to a margin of success. I say “margin” very loosely. But as I published last year, I swamped myself with ALL THESE THINGS THAT MUST BE DONE. I marketed and I promoted and oh buddy, I advertised. I posted here and I posted there. I did takeovers and giveaways. And I sacrificed two chickens on a full moon to the gods of books sales.
At the end of all that, I found I was just burnt out and not getting any writing done. And to top it all off? I still wasn’t selling that many books even after all that effort. So what was the point?
Of course, you hear everyone saying that the best marketing is just to write the next book. Well, I did. And I did every single other marketing technique everyone has ever blogged about. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it felt that way. I thought I was doing everything right by releasing all the books in my series within a couple months of each other. I thought that had me covered on the “writer” part of my job. So I knocked myself out trying to ace the “business” part of my career.
Kind of hard to manage a business when you don’t make much money!
All that time I spent stressing over what my street team should be pimping that day would have been better spent on writing. I could have released ten books last year. Okay maybe that’s a little dramatic too. But at least a few more.
So, my point? I thought I was a bigger deal than I really was. I thought I needed to do all this stuff like street teams, ads, Facebook groups, Facebook giveaways, takeovers, etc. (Not that it didn’t help. I’m sure it did to an extent, and I met so many wonderful people, who became close friends). My point is that I’m not a big deal. But I thought I was and that was the problem. I thought all successful writers did this: this crazy hustle and bustle to sell a book. Instead of letting my ego get in the way and dictating this sense of entitlement to hours and hours spent “promoting and marketing,” I should have been writing.
For me, as much as my marketing efforts sounded impressive, the best thing I actually did was to set up an eCommerce store where my readers could order my books in eBook format. At one point I was actually selling more eBooks than physical copies. You see, it turns out there is a huge appetite out there for eBooks nowadays. Besides, it is no secret that it is incredibly convenient to be able to download a book and start reading it on your tablet within minutes. Consequently, if this experience taught me anything, it would have to be that setting up an eCommerce store is a vital step for authors. In short, as you can see here in this useful guide from the FastSpring website, selling digital versions of your books is definitely the way forward.
Anyway, this was a really hard lesson for me to learn. When a few people read my book and liked it and then read my other books, it felt like the most amazing thing in the world. And it totally was. I would never take that away from any writer, not even myself. But what happened to me was that more people started reading my books and liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter, and I thought that all equaled up to success. And I guess it does to some extent, but it doesn’t mean that I should go weeks without writing because I’m “so busy doing takeovers and giveaways and all this other stuff.”
I had to look at my book sales and eat a big slice of humble pie. I think when the time comes for me to spend hours busting my butt on the “business” end of writing, I’ll know. Hopefully, I’ll know it by a “NYT Times Bestselling” tag on the front of my books. Ha! Until that day, I think I’ll keep my head down, my nose to the grindstone, and my eyes off Facebook so that I can use that time to write books.
So maybe that was my biggest lesson of 2014: Getting the hell over myself. I would say it’s the biggiest “Sh!t I Learned Ever” but that just sounds gross. Anyway, I’m still learning it and putting it into practice this year. So far so good.
Or at least, I like to think so.