Tuesday, February 12, 2013

So You Wrote a Book...(an Indie Life post)

This post is a part of Indie Life. You can find out more about it here.
Well, I don't know if you wrote a book or if you're still working on it or, maybe, you're not working on one at all and just like to stop by and read my stuff. Whatever the case, today's post is related to what it's like to be an independently published author, because that's what Indie Life is about.

Writing is hard. Wait, no, writing is easy. Writing a book is hard. Up to the point in my life when I wrote my first book, it was the hardest thing I had done. I think I thought it would get easier after that, but, no, all the stuff you have to do with your book once you finish writing it is much more difficult than actually writing the book. Which is hard; I mentioned that, right? Most of that other stuff would fall under the heading of "marketing." Let's call it what it is: selling. Selling your book is much more difficult than writing it. Well, for most of us writer people, at any rate. Let's face it, selling takes a certain amount of extrovertedness, and most of us writers don't fall into that category, so trying to convince someone else to read the book you just wrote isn't the easiest thing (for us) to do. That's why we need those people that are good at that stuff, except, when you're doing this stuff on your own, you don't have access to those people. Generally speaking.

Not that those people necessarily do that great a job, because knowing what's going to be appealing to other people is a lot of guess work, so there's a lot of variability in it. But, hey, at least it wouldn't be me doing it (which is why it's my (not so) secret dream to be able to hire someone else to do the marketing of my novels and stories and tall tales). But all of that is kind of beside the point.

The point is this:
There are tons of ways to go about bringing attention to your work. There are people that will tell you two dozen "best" ways to do it. You have to be here. You have to go there. You have to be on this. Or on that. Or drinking a soda while standing on your head. Or walking around with an egg clenched in your butt cheeks. Hm, well, maybe that last one would work. Heck, I'd at least look into what kind of stuff you write if you used an egg like that as a marketing tool. The point is that everyone, EVERYONE, will tell you something different.

And, so, how do you choose?

You don't. You want to know why? I mean, do you really want to know why? You're not a marketer. Not a seller. That's not your job.

Oh, yeah, okay, I hear you. "But how will anyone ever know about my book if I don't get out there and sell it?" And I hear, "Well, you have a blog!" And I hear all sorts of other things most of them starting with "But!" So, yeah, I'm not saying to do nothing; I'm just saying that you shouldn't let the selling of your book become THE priority of your life. Especially if all you have is just the one book.
It's not your job.

Did you become a writer just so you'd get the chance to do some marketing? No, I didn't think so. [And, if you did, you can come market my book for me and skip all of that writing stuff. See what I mean?] You became a writer because you wanted to write, and that's what you need to be doing. Primarily.

Let's take a peek at the numbers. I wrote my first draft of The House on the Corner in about six months. That was 125,000 words. Yeah, it's a longish book. I spent another six months working on it after that and cutting the word count to all of 120,000 words. In the two years since then, the two years I've been blogging, I've only done a little over 100,000 words of fiction writing. See, the blogging takes a considerable amount of time and a lot of my words. Granted, I've written way more in total considering that I have something around 300,000 words of blog entries, but, still, the marketing has taken away from the writing.

Which is not to say that it's not necessary, because some amount of putting yourself out there for people to find (beyond just sticking your work on Amazon) is absolutely necessary. However, the best way to market your work, and the way that no one in marketing is likely to tell you about, is to go and write another book. Seriously. The greater your body of work, the more seriously readers will take you as a writer and the more likely they are to buy your books. So, as it turns out, your best marketing tool is to do the thing you want to do anyway: write.

So... what are you waiting for? Go write! Do it! Now!
Oh, but, um, first, go read my book! Trust me, you want to. Because that's the kind of seller I am. Now, excuse me. I have some writing I need to go do.


  1. Definitely, early in the game with only one or two books out, I feel the best marketing for any writer is to keep writing! I love your covers by the way!

  2. I'd say that is good advice. I'd also mention that it's not been uncommon to see someone purchase one thing, apparently enjoy, and go and buy whatever else you have for sale... having more things for sale is certainly a bonus then. And we can't do that if we aren't putting it out there.

  3. I can't even imagine how difficult a writer's life must be. I guess that is why my book is still in my head and not on paper.

  4. Writing is work and it takes dedication. Most people don't have that and never finish a work once begun. Which is why I'm a painter-it's quicker and I don't have to sell anything. I'm an introvert and happy to be that way!

  5. You also write, approximately, half a bazillion words per blog post. I suspect they are the longest consistent blog posts in the history of the internet.

  6. Selling is selling. If you're trying to get a publisher for your book, you are selling it -- just to a limited audience.

    I think I do more marketing than you, but less than many other people do. But my marketing is a mixed bag: some is "buy my books!" stuff. Some is sending promo copies to reviewers (not much lately, as that's a sucker bet.)

    I view my blogs as marketing -- kind of what you're suggesting: Get people reading and then say "If you like this maybe you'll love my books."

    So I think you can do both: Keep writing and publishing, and keep marketing, as well -- from websites for your books to videos to pushign the book on your blog to tweeting about it. That kind of thing doesn't hurt.

    You are right, though: A person with a lot of books has a better chance of someone finding one and liking it.

  7. What Callie said. Which is why I usually visit your posts in the afternoon when I have more time to read. :P

    But it's so true that blogging has changed the way I write my novels. I began my blog in the last phases of editing my last novel, and that was no big deal. I had no followers and nothing really competing for my time. Now I have to schedule my blogging, reading, and writing time so that I can get it all done. It's taking me almost twice as long to get this current WIP done as I had planned.

    And I still say the best marketing is being social (not just promotion) and having more works for people to find when they've liked something previously.

  8. Laura: Thanks! I love them, too. I have a great cover artist.

    Alex: That you did.

    Rusty: That's true. I think.
    See, you do great covers; Laura says so.

    JKIR,F!: Oh, I had stuff in my head for a long time, so I know how it is.

    Anne: Well, I'm happy to be an introvert, too, which is probably why I don't enjoy getting in people's faces trying to get them to buy my books.

    Callie: Oh, no, not really. Briane Pagel writes comments as long as my posts and I can't even aspire to the kind of posts he writes. I can't actually figure out how he does it.

    Briane: Well, you have to do both, but, I think, often people switch from writing to marketing after they finish their first book. It's hard to get people to buy your single book, so they never go back to writing.

    L.G.: Maybe I should be posting more pictures of cats?

  9. I totally agree with this! I'm in the middle of my blog tour so I've had no time for writing anything other than guest posts. I'm really looking forward to the end of the month when I can get back into actually writing my stories. Thanks for the kick in the butt.

  10. K.A.: Oh, yeah, sure. I like butt kicking.
    I just finished my 2nd book and am itching to get back to the sequel of my first book, but I have editing to do first.

  11. @Callie: LOL Go and read a Briane Pagel post. I will see you at your NEXT birthday when you finish.

    The hardest thing I've ever done is lose weight. I did it once, but failed to keep the weight off.

    Marketing? I fail at it. But I think it's all luck anyway so I don't really try all that hard.

  12. Good point. I'm beginning to think you know what you're talking about. Especially when you brought up the eggs in the butt cheeks, then I knew for sure I was dealing with a genius. :P No, but for real, I totally agree. My very first novel will release this summer, but I'm not too stressed about marketing. I think if we're not careful, we can scare readers off. Once, not very long ago, I added a book to my (to read list) on Goodreads, and I kid you not, the author called me, not once, but 3 times, asking me to buy his book. Not sure how he got my phone number. It was weird. Then he sent me a dozen emails to say he was in trouble with his publisher because people said they'd buy his book and didn't. Now every time I run across that guys name or book, I run from the room screaming! True story.:P

  13. @Michael and @Andrew - I can barely keep up with the blogs I read consistently. That's not much of a selling point if you're actually trying to get me to pick up a new one.

    But, really, I ought to. I see Briane commenting every which where.

    Also: I was being facetious. It's hyperbole, but not by much. After all, y'all could only name ONE person who consistently writes longer posts.

  14. Heidi: Indeed!

    Michael: Yeah, I don't either. I just don't have the time it would take to really figure out all the nuances. Not if I want to spend any time writing. Hence, this post.

    celeste: Um... that's pretty freaky. I mean, stalkerish. I specifically don't follow up with people that leave good reviews for my stuff, because I don't want to be some weird stalking writer guy.

    Callie: Oh, I got the hyperbole. The thing is is that you're correct. I don't actually know of any other blogger out there that posts the way I do on a regular basis. There are some people that occasionally have a longer post than me, but, mostly, it doesn't happen. Except Briane.

  15. Andrew, I'm with you on that. No point in having only one book on sale and marketing it forever when the job of a writer is to write.

  16. This is very true. A local friend of mine was doing a self-challenge where she wrote a short story each week. She was self-publishing those (and is still self-publishing MG novels and short stories now), and was showing some good returns. Each additional book/stories brought attention to the others.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  17. Shannon: I don't think I could do a short story every week. Maybe once a month if I wasn't working on two novels. Three if you could editing on Spinner.

  18. Clearly I am doing things completely wrong. I have been blogging for nearly 2 years and my book is still in my head - and on about 300 pages of notes. I haven't a clue where to start. Believe it or not, this post was really helpful, so thanks.


  19. Rhonda: Well, I would say to just start. There's nothing like just sitting down and doing it.

  20. Oh yeah, neither could I. But her stats for payment were fascinating. Her sales were going up exponentially. It was an experiment for her for a certain time period, just to see what would happen.

  21. Shannon: Sounds like my serialization experiment, actually.