Monday, November 02, 2009

Self-Trust, Self-Publish, Self-Promote

The Rug Pulled Out

I am getting better at riding out the shit that life throws me. Right now, in my personal life, the life I don’t write about in my blog (believe it or not I do keep some things to my self), I have had something happen to me that is best analogized with this: You are walking on, what appears to be, a lovely bike path, nice and flat, miles and miles of easy asphalt ahead of you.  You are just going and swinging alone, enjoying the feeling of moving forward, the lovely scenery with water to your left and a thicket of trees to your right.  Then, suddenly, upon the next step, you drop, fall, down, down, down, and land in  new place, bruised and lost. It’s sudden. There’s no warning. And now, you have to figure out what to do.

This “shit” that life has thrown me is not the worst thing to have happened to me ever-that would be death, divorce, or illness. It’s none of those. Maybe that’s why while this sometimes wakes me in the middle of the night, but my heart doesn’t pound and I don’t get a tightness in my chest. While I am consumed with it in my head during the day, it’s more just the buzz and noise behind everything else.

So, it’s not that bad. I guess.

But, the point is, the reason for me sharing this with you all is that this “shit” has given me some perspective on my writing, and more importantly, (what this blog entry will eventually be about) on the marketing of my new book, Fear of Falling.


Due to this shit in my life, marketing my book seems like a minor concern and yet, at the same time I say that, I feel guilty. I shouldn’t neglect this book.  Marketing is my duty in a way that when you create something, with it comes the responsibility of caring for its well being. I know the book isn’t my child, and I have blogged about realizing my old metaphor of birthing books and parenting them into the world doesn’t really work. A book is not a child. I get that. But still, I wrote the thing and published it. Shouldn’t I tend to it regularly? Or, is it like what happens with your pets once you have children? Where all your energy used to go to loving Fido, now poor guy is lucky if you clean his food bowl once in awhile. 


While I feel guilty about Fear of Falling not getting as much of my time as it should, I am well aware of how futile book marketing efforts can be. That I can do every single thing short of tying the book to my neck like a necklace and still not sell a lot of books. I have talked at length about the going-up-hill-with-a-bag-of-rocks-on-my-back experience of book marketing.  The reality is that you just don’t know what will work, and you do a lot of shooting arrows in the dark.  That was fine with the first and second book and that was fine before I had two children and that was fine when I wasn’t in school and that was fine when my business was slow. But now, I am pressed for time. Now, I have other things that are simply more important.


Even when I was a marketing nut, the result was almost the same as not doing a whole lot. With book one and two, I did every single thing possible and sold a total of a bit more than 1500 (and I still sell some here and there). That is fantastic for self-published with no help. But the amount of time and energy it took was enormous, and I don’t regret it, but my life is very different now and I can’t live that way. I have to make money to support my children, and so my time has to go to children, work, and husband. Plus, I am in school, and school comes before marketing my book. I have to accept my limitations, and I have to let go of these voices that say “You should have waited to publish this one” or “You should have tried harder for a new agent or tried at least once with submitting to a regular publishing house.”

Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.

And...more frustration

It’s frustrating to love your book and believe in it but feel as though the time it takes for promotion is futile. Shot in the dark, and if you keep shooting and missing, you get pissed because your time could be spent doing something else. Recently I sent out a gazillion press releases, spent $800 on it and got only one response. Seriously? WTF?

And...more struggle

The struggle is with the guilt I feel for not devoting the amount of time I did with book one and two. The struggle I feel is the sadness of how so few will get to read this current book.  How, in many ways, this is the most important one. The struggle is to say, “I did this for simply the sake of my art and not to sell or promote.”  Which is the truth.  I went into this one saying, “I am publishing book three because I have to.  Because if only two people read it and are moved and touched– it’s worth it.”  I don’t regret self publishing it. I just wish that the few things I do for marketing would snowball effect out and bring in more readers.

Self-Trust When You Self-Publish

When it comes down to it all, I have to trust my self and my process with this book, and I have to remind myself why I did it and reconcile myself with the reality that some of the marketing I have done, which cost lots of money and time, isn’t working, and so that’s it. That’s it, as in, time to stop wasting money and time and just do what’s easy and accessible and free. 

Forgive and let go...

I am done efforting with marketing and from here on, I will market only in ways that are easy. And if I don’t sell any more books, I accept that.

The struggle between work, school, marketing, children, husband, house. I really understand I no longer can do it all and do it all to the best effort. One of those things will suffer. It can’t be the children or husband or work or school. Those are, in ways, effortless.  It’s the marketing of this book. Sorry, book. I love you, but I can’t do much more than I am doing.


Told you all, way back before I released this book, that  I would be really honest about the third time around in self-publishing.  So, here’s the update on the book’s progress.

Middletown High School in Middletown, RI ordered 12 copies to give out as awards to teachers for a unit they did on bullying.  MHS is my alum and place I taught a few years back. I wish they would invite me to come and do a workshop. Cross your fingers. I have put it out there so...

I had a signing at Barrington Books and sold 20 copies between the three books.

Reviewing/blog goddess and student/friend of mine Joanne Carnevale posted the first official review.

A fellow named Marc Marc Archambault, author and blogger, will review the book on his blog My Indy Book Review.

Devyn Burton from 5 Awesome YA Fans has the book and will review some time next year on his blog The Faerie Drink Review

I submitted to the IPPY awards.

I have acquired 73 fans on Facebook!

The Bristol Phoenix Wrote a lovely piece about the book and me.

The Jewish Voice will be running a blurb and a head shot in their next issue.

Mt. Hope High school here in Bristol asked me to come and do a workshop.

The Barrington Library– so I hear– has a display of my books!

Clark’s Alum magazine featured a quick blurb about the book.

A reviewer from the Young Adult Book Club website is set to review the book shortly.

On the other hand...

The Newport Daily News has passed on writing an article about me.  Too bad. They did a nice job a few years back on my first book.

A few weeks back there was a request from the press release service I used. Haven’t heard back, though. I spent $800 on this wire/press release service. I only got one response. Lesson learned.

I haven’t set up any more signings yet.

Ran a contest only one person submitted to. : (

If you have any easy and quick marketing ideas, email me!  I will post any that I try out. 


Joanne Carnevale said...

What's that expression? . . . When life sends you you lemons, make lemonade. Here, lemons is a metaphor for the shit that has been thrown at you recently. Making lemonade is another way of saying accentuate the positive. Your list of positive developments is far longer than the list headed by "On the other hand..." so you've already done that here. Speaking of lists, you have children, husband, house, pets, business, and school. You've managed to keep up with all that and still self-publish your third book and devote time and expense to marketing efforts. No reason to feel guilty, particularly when you facilitated that longer list of positive results without support from the farther-reaching resources of main stream publishing. Relatively speaking, you've done a fine professional job of it. Here's another analogy: You planted a garden, fed, watered, weeded, but now other business has diverted your time and attention so you can only devote short spurts of time to tending the garden, with longer intervals between. However, your initial hard work prepared the soil well so your garden still yields the flowers/vegetables that you intended. Glad you submitted to the IPPY and hope you find other competitions for this worthy book. You're right, in some ways this is the best/most important of the three. Love this book!

Margaret Jones said...

I certainly understand your frustration over marketing. So much effort feels futile. I recently have come to a similar conclusion. It doesn't make sense to keep throwing money at it with so little return. I find it impossible to keep up my blog, twitter, go to fairs, prepare workshops etc all at once. I find I must focus on each one at a time. First the blog tour, now the craft fairs, next developing workshops. I will keep at it at a pace that makes sense for me until all my books are sold. said...

I salute your hard work for the success of your books. It's a real inspiration to know what you have reflected, that you did not regret what you've done for your book and your family. But it's also a reality that marketing can be real frustrating sometimes. But you know, just like all stories, we need to experience challenge to step into the light of success. You've already made it twice, that's a whole lot of reason to reap success again and again. God bless on your book marketing!


Bill Gauch said...

The way I see it, you have a couple major roadblocks to marketing/selling which you didn't highlight.

1) You are writing a book series. Most people will not read the third book if they haven't read the first two.

2) You have a limited primary target audience. Your books are mostly focused towards teen girls, with some follow-over to teens and possibly pre-teens.

3) Teens grow up. The readers of your first book are now moving away from home, off in college, starting families, etc. If they are even aware that another book in the series was written, what are the odds that it will still interest them.

Sadly, those things combine to make selling and marketing the third book significantly harder. Unfortunately, unless you have a YA book which can hold the interest of the masses (e.g. Harry Potter) or you are a well-known, published author who also writes YA (e.g. Neil Gaiman), you are going to have a tough time.

Your options, the way I see it, are as follows:

1) Change genre. Particularly difficult if you love what you currently write, because you should always write what you love.

2) Write a new story, outside the series. Depending on how attached you are to your characters, you may have the same problem as number 1.

3) Stop self-publishing. A big step which result in you never getting a published book again.

4) Take whatever sales you get. It's a potentially costly approach. You need to sell enough to pay your expenses, at least. It might be worth it to hire someone to do your sales and marketing.

I look forward to seeing what you produce in the future. I think you are a talented and capable writer.

Hannah R. Goodman said...

Wow! All of you, with your different perspectives and thoughts, make me feel very supported and understood. Thank you so much for responding. The support and response is what makes all of the effort worthwhile. To be heard and validated are important as a writer. Thanks again!