Today’s brew: Anything with vitamin C in it. This stupid cold decided to fight back.
I’ve never had a five year plan. They always freaked me out, locking myself into a solid path for five long years. That was the reason I got my cosmetology license. I couldn’t commit to years of studying for a degree than might not even land me a better job that I had.
Of course, I look to the future. I have a retirement account, and I do have goals. But in general, I’m a panster through and through. My work schedule is always different, and I’m always ready to basically get up and go. I’m an Aries, and this works for me.
When I started writing, my goal was just to finish the book. I was happy any day I got words on the page, and that the story was flowing. Once I reached that goal, things changed again. I wanted to publish it. I feel like there’s tons of information available on what happens between typing THE END and getting your book published, but that’s when people start to quiet down.
Things change. You’re either tied into a contract, and on deadlines, or you’re self-publishing and working on your own schedule. As a self-publisher, even though I hire a lot of work out, there’s still so much more to do than I ever imagined. I have seven books available now. More are coming. There’s always something that needs to be done, and it’s not just putting words on the page. Yesterday I went shopping to decorate my table at a book signing. I work from morning to night many days, and I love it. I might not have as much time to be on social media anymore, but it doesn’t mean I’m not here.
Not every book can be a bestseller. One of my author friends said recently, “I miss the excitement of not knowing.”
My books have had their struggles. I had to completely tear everything down and start over. Why? Because things weren’t working. On a lot of different levels. I was lucky. I was able to get my rights back almost immediately. Many authors are stuck in limbo in bad deals or defunct houses. But if you can get your rights, you owe it to yourself and your books to do right by your stories. Whatever that means. If they need to be reedited, do it. Give them new covers. Any of those things that keep you awake at night are the things you now have the power to change. It was a ton of work, but I did it. Now I have beautiful books I can be proud of. They’re not hitting the NYT list, yet, but they sell. And I’m happy any time someone new finds my stuff. I’m even happier when people buy Night Moves or We Own the Night, because I know they want to keep reading about these people who started off as just voices in my head.
Now that I’m not a debut author, I know what to expect. Promo is hard. Julie’s compared it to feeling like a door to door salesman. I’ve compared it to running for office. I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face. But so many people have been supportive and more helpful than I could have ever imagined.
I think about writing differently now. If I should write about something new, or if I should continue a series. It’s a business, and I have to treat like a business. That means profit and loss and other things that give creatives hives. What’s worth the investment. Many of us shy away from talking about money, but it’s an important conversation to have. Since I self-published, I paid for the editing, design, and promo out of my own pocket. If you’re not self-published, someone else paid that for you. And I can tell you whoever wrote those checks wants the same thing: to make their money back. It might not happen on every book. But realistically, there’s only so long you can operate at a loss. Food and shelter are really, really sexy.
This is one of the reasons I love being indie. I’m a control freak. All those charts and numbers, even though I’m not a math person, I am competitive. Give me a goal and that’s like talking dirty to me. I like being able to change things up and take chances. So here’s what I’ve learned:
- There are a lot of books that come out every day. And a lot of people believe in those books. It’s hard to have your voice heard in the crowd. Harder than I ever imagined.
- Just because things don’t explode on release day doesn’t mean that your book is dead. All it takes is for it to fall in the right hands, and to be in the right place at the right time.
- That doesn’t you don’t have to get the word out! “Write a good book and people will find it” is the most misleading piece of advice out there. On some levels, it’s true. But how are you going to get it in anyone’s hands to get them talking about your book?
- You can revive a book at almost any stage of the game.
- If you don’t like how things are going for you and your books, change it. No, it won’t be easy. But yes, it will be worth it.
- Keep writing. Your books will get better and better.
Success is going to look different for every one of us. What you consider success might change a couple times along they way. Do what’s best for you. Don’t worry about what someone else doing. You’re the only one who can define success for you.