Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why Aren't I Selling More Books?

I'm a member of an amazing author group on Facebook, and yesterday one of the authors dropped this post. It is hard truth, but it's also inspiring.

Being an indie author is hard work. You have to be a writer, editor, formatter, marketer, publicist, designer,  advertising guru, and more. But you guys, it's worth it.


"I’ve seen a lot of similarly-themed questions in all the groups I belong to, and they all go something like this: “Why aren’t I selling more books?”
Assuming your writing is great – and you REALLY need to take your reader feedback to heart to know that – it comes down to marketing. Period. If you’re going to self publish, once your book is written, you have to stop thinking like an artist, and start thinking like a business owner.
We of the pen are not programmed for this. We are artists. We are feelers and dreamers. We believe in the powers of magic, of justice, of struggle, of trial and redemption. We believe – each and every one of us! – in our heart of hearts that our talent and effort will win the day, and if our book is amazing, the world will beat a path to our door… because nothing else would be just. If we did *not* believe those things, we would suck as storytellers… and we probably would never have written a story to begin with.
Here’s the problem: once you have written a book, it’s no longer a book – it’s now a product. Did your stomach just drop? Of course it did. How terribly reductive… that something so beautiful, so original, so perfectly, genuinely *you* should now become some commercial item to be bartered and sold, as if a piece of your very soul wasn’t embedded in it.
But you’re not just a writer anymore… now you’re a publisher. You have to sell a product. You have to polish it (pro editing). You have to package it (pro covers). You have to market it. It’s gonna be expensive. You’re going to have to learn new skills. You now need to become an expert on so many things you never even knew were things. You’re going to have to come out of your shell and engage with readers – many of us writers are introverts, and for some of you, I know that’s flat out terrifying.
Here’s the harsh, cold reality: there is no luck in this business. No one is going to “discover” you and make you famous. You have to buy advertising. Lots of it. You will NOT get an ROI anytime soon. You will do it poorly sometimes. You will burn through money. You will get pink slips in the mail from the electric company, you will gaze into an empty refrigerator, and you will scrounge for change to buy necessities that you used to take for granted. You might need to cancel cable, get a second job, trade in that new car for a beater.
Because now you’re a business owner, and unless you are independently wealthy, you have to face the same thing that all business owners face: this is HARD, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
But here’s the good news: there *is* a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If you do *all* these things, and keep writing books, and keep learning how to be a better business owner, your success is a foregone conclusion. Learn from your mistakes. Double down on your successes. Write. Design better ads. Take a writing class. Network with other authors. Write. If you learn something, teach it to someone else. Don’t just beg people to help you… earn allies. Find more money. Write. Read your most awful reviews. Be honest with yourself. If they have a point, cry. Then fix it. Write.
Don’t quit. Don’t give in to despair. You can do this. It’s hard. Hard as hell. But you’re harder. Your dream got you here, but your good sense will take you the rest of the way: you know becoming a best-selling author isn’t just a matter of putting 80,000 carefully arranged words together. It’s a career. No one starts a career at the top. But everyone at the top shares one common trait: no matter how hard it was, no matter how many times they stumbled, they never, ever stopped believing in the dream that made them write that first line to begin with.
I know you can do this. I *know* it."

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