Come Along With Me As I Write My Novels
(And a lot of other new writing experiences too)
I took a break from all things writing in August.
I didn’t put any copies of The Cube into Little Free Libraries.
I didn’t submit any queries to agents for my (hopefully-to-be-published) second book, The Stories We Choose Not to Tell.
I didn’t write any chapters of The IT Girl on Channillo.
I didn’t attend any writing events. I didn’t engage with the writing community too much on social media.
I had to step back. I had to.
Why you might ask?
Because I was starting to wonder why I was doing it all in the first place. I’m sure this is common among many writers, but I was getting so negative. Writing, this thing that I loved more than anything, was eating away at my happiness.
Perhaps, most importantly, I had to realize, maybe for the first time, that writing is never going to be my career. And, that I don’t want it to be. I like working in IT. Love it actually. That writing was and is something entirely different for me. No less an equal part, but not a profession. The time it took me to come to that realization was long and grinding.
In fact, the whole experience of writing had become painful, even in the happiest parts of the experience. The pain of watching as The Cube succeeded in an amazing Little Free Library challenge… but because libraries are cute and people are incredibly generous and kind and everyone loves a challenge and NOT because the book itself was going viral. I had to realize that I had dreams of it being the next The Martian… self-published book goes mainstream and is an international best seller… that only happens once in a lifetime. And, it already happened… to The Martian. And, that my dark thoughts were clouding the truly amazing light of what the Little Free Library challenge was. It was incredible. I had to be able to see that.
The pain of submitting to agents for book number two and getting rejection letter after rejection letter… even when these rejections were of a different quality, kind and encouraging… still knowing that the industry is 100% set up for you to get rejected. That it’s expected. Normal. Mundane even. That it’s celebrated when someone says, ‘I submitted to over 200 agents before I found the right one.’ And, that you have nowhere near the strength or energy for 200 submissions. When you know that the fate of your book relies completely on the subjective. It’s no wonder so many people don’t even try to get traditionally published and just, from the get go, self-publish. I have to tell you, I’m almost there.
The pain of trying to find scraps of time to write chapters of a weekly series, praying that there’s some type of continuity from week to week since there’s absolutely no continuity in when the chapters are written - lunch breaks, 15 minutes in between meetings, early morning sentences, exhausted pushes on a Monday night for a Tuesday launch.
The pain of realizing that people know me as a writer, but that the majority of my time is spent in the world of IT and that I don’t ever really talk about that. I’m a woman in IT management - no small feat - and instead of celebrating that, I’m churning and agonizing about whether or not I’ll ever make it as a writer.
All of these became so mixed up and so negative - which is not who I am, I try with every fiber of my being to be a positive person - that there was only one logical conclusion. I had to take a break. I had to take a break so that I could remember why I was even doing it in the first place. Why I was putting myself through this. Why I write.
And, a few amazing things happened.
My mother, husband and my daughter read my second book from start to finish, and loved it. Encouraged me, told me it has to be published so that other people can read it.
I got a few rejection letters for my second book too, but it kind of showed me that even when I take a break the world continues to move on… in some way validating that breaks are okay. That it wasn’t the end of the world if I took time off… that the wheels of what I’ve already set in motion will keep turning.
I had people continue to find The IT Girl on Channillo, and let myself really feel how much I truly missed writing it.
I looked at Little Free Libraries and craved putting books in, realizing it wasn’t just a fad but had become something I truly enjoy doing. And more than that, I had so many people tell me how much they loved following along with it, asking me what was next for the challenge. That blew me away. (Spoiler alert: there is no next part to that challenge, but I love that people want there to be!)
And, maybe the best of all, my brain freed up space to think about other things. Big things. I started attending more Women in Tech events, and started sharing that side of myself more. Some friends and I are even working to start a podcast about working in tech (follow along on social media @women_knowit), and I realized that all my years of writing are going to serve us so well in content outlining and script writing. And, that my years of book promotion are going to help tremendously in setting all of that up. That each step of my life’s journey is continuously preparing me for the next.
And, perhaps the most profound of all, I realized that I will always write. That this amorphous identity of “I am a writer,” doesn’t matter at all. The entirety of writing twitter is people grappling with that in some form… even the most successful writers encountering times when they try and justify their books or choices to others. I had to go back to the question I’ve always asked myself - what is my goal? Why am I doing this?
And, after taking a break, the answer became clear. Because I love to write. And I have stories to share. And because I want to hold a book in my hand and say, ‘This is mine, written for you.’ And I don’t need my income to come from that. I don’t need fame or international success. It is enough for me that my husband and daughter and my circle of family and friends and colleagues can share in that with me. That. Is. Enough.
So, where does that leave me?
I’m going to continue to send out query letters for book number two for the rest of 2019 or until I reach 30 queries sent, whichever comes first. Mostly because it’s an itch I have to scratch. And, if no one bites, I have an amazing hybrid publisher that I used for my first book that I will use again. The amazing thing about that is that when I look back, that’s the exact goal I set for myself at the beginning of 2019. So, for all the emotional turmoil I’ve put myself through, nothing there has changed. LIFE LESSONS ALL OVER THE PLACE.
I’m going to continue to write The IT Girl because it brings me so much joy.
I’m going to finally be proud of The Cube and put that book in every Little Free Library I come across and let that fill me with joy.
And, I’m going to remember this month off. And, if I ever start to feel that level of negativity come back again, I’m going to take a break again. Because breaks are okay. And needed. And the words will still be there when I get back. The writing will never leave me. Because it’s a part of who I am. Writing is not my career. But, it is, and always will be, a key part of my life.
I told ya’ll this would be a journey. And, it certainly has been. Thanks for continuing to come along with me. More to come. More. To. Come.
Friends and family,
Just over a year ago, I placed a copy of my book in a little free library. I did it on a whim. I was lamenting how hard it was to market a book and thought, “that would make a pretty picture.” My daughter was with me. We were both a little bit nervous as we approached the library. We had never really explored a little free library before. I felt stupid putting my own book and taking a photo. But, I did it and posted it and thought, “maybe, just maybe, someone will take it.” Then we went back the next day and the book was gone. Someone had taken it. Which meant I had a new reader… which is all any author wants anyway.
As 2018 progressed, I started to do it a little more. I did a ‘end of summer’ challenge for myself to put on in a different neighborhood in Chicago every day for two weeks. That took me all over the city. I took books with me when I travelled, which showed me new neighborhoods across the Midwest. Then I did an end-of-year challenge where I raffled off a gift card - and much to my surprise, people actually participated. And, over those months, I fell in love with little free libraries in general. How cute they were. How personalized they were. How much they foster reading and community. And, trust me, once you start looking for them, you see them everywhere!
Then, over the Christmas holiday, my sister-in-law suggested that I try and get one in all 50 states. My immediate response was “no one is going to do this.” And her immediate response was, “yes, they absolutely will.”
So, I took a leap of faith. And, it turns out, she was absolutely right. I have been BLOWN AWAY by the outpouring of support for this little project. I officially kicked it off in February with nine states already under my belt and now, less than six months later, we have done it. There is now a book in ALL 50 STATES! And in five other countries, across three continents. My book has been placed in more than 100 little free libraries… and counting!
More importantly, over 75 people have participated in this project by either placing a book themselves, shipping a book to someone they know, working their networks to see who they know in different states, traveling across state lines just to get me one more library, and more… all to help with this goal.
My biggest takeaway from this project is that people are amazing. And kind. And generous with their time, their money, their networks. It’s been a testament to the incredible graciousness of people… from people I know to complete strangers. I will never meet some of the people that have been kind enough to send in photos, but I feel like I am connected to each and every one of them.
My second biggest takeaway from this project is that promoting a book doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be about sales. Or reviews. Or any other traditional metric. There can be joy in it, as long as you find out what’s right for you. Some people would have tracked how this project affected sales. I did not. Some may have wondered if it got them anymore reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. That wasn’t my goal. By the end, my ultimate goal was to look at my book as a gift to the little free library community and to give that gift to as many people as possible - and that we did.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you. For participating. For following along. For asking me about it. For not rolling your eyes when I incessantly talked about it. For encouraging me to do it. It’s really been a huge blessing in my life. And, I am so eternally grateful.
I will also say - feel free to keep it going! Just because we reached this milestone does not mean the fun has to stop. I will forever love and post any little free library challenge photos that come my way.
Please check out the webpage where they are all posted. I scroll through it about 100 times a day. :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
PS… On a final side note - the little free library that got this whole thing started was torn down, almost a year to the day of my first post. When I noticed it was gone I let out an audible gasp. As hokey as this sounds, I want to say thank you to that little free library for being there, right in the exact spot and time I needed you. I’m not sure why you were torn down, but I notice your absence every time I pass the corner you were on, which I do often. Without you, none of this may have happened. And, I’m so grateful that it did.
Hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on writing endeavors that don’t involve Little Free Libraries :) so I thought I’d jump with other news. I recently wrote a review for Windy City Reviews and it made me think - do ya’ll even know I write reviews? Probably not, but I do!
Windy City Reviews is an extension of the Chicago Writers Association and provides indie and small press authors the chance for a free book review. I availed myself of the service for The Cube and remember waiting with bated breath to get it back, reading it over and over again, and then letting it sink in that my reviewer was as kind as could be. It was the first time someone outside of my friend and family group had given me feedback on my book, which is a feeling I still have no words to describe.
Not too long after that, I was honored when Windy City Reviews reached out to see if I would be willing to return the favor and sign up as a reviewer. Of course, I said yes!
Why was it such an easy yes for me? Well, first of all, I love reading. So, that’s pretty easy. Second, I will be eternally grateful for my review and love the idea of paying it forward. But, I think my favorite part of it so far is the access it gives me to books I would never find on my own.
The three books that have come to me so far have each been a treat to read. Could indie books stand more proofreading and editing? Probably (and let’s not go down the path of then thinking about how that applies to my own book... yikes). But, it turns out that great ideas and a lot of heart overcome any technical issues that may come up. Each of the books I have read has stuck with me, maybe even more than many of the traditionally published books I have read.
The first book I reviewed, The Hope Store, was such a fresh and unique concept, I could almost taste the crispness of the story as I read it. The second book I reviewed, The Third Thaw, was so intricate and original, I still think about it months later. This latest book, The One Date Rule, refreshingly left behind all of the tropes it could have employed… and was damn sexy to boot.
If these books hadn’t come to me, I would have never found them on my own, and that’s a real shame, because they were each wonderful to read in their own, lovely ways.
I also think it’s an honor. With Windy City Reviews, the author scans the list of reviewers and picks the person they would like to have read their book. The reviewer has the chance to say no, but I can’t imagine doing that. The idea that my bio and interests pop for another author is so lovely and that they would choose me to read their work… well, that’s just fantastic. I have jumped at each and every chance I’ve had to say “yes!”
Reviews can mean so much to an author. I really labor over trying to give honest feedback that also provides the author with something good they can quote on their website or other materials. I also try and dive into what I really liked about the book so that each and every author I read knows I saw them through their work.
We may not all have access to the best editors at the best publishing houses. We may not get written up in the New York Times or have a thousand reviews on Goodreads. But, through this service, writers can support other writers… and find some really great reads to boot. WIN-WIN!
I hope my reviews spark some of you to pick up some of these great indie books. Fingers crossed another author chooses me for a new review soon!
As you may have seen across my social media channels (gosh that sounds pretentious… but, yeah...), I launched a webpage for The Cube’s Little Free Library Challenge in February. The goal is to get a copy of The Cube in as many Little Free Libraries, across as many cities as possible - and in all 50 states!
As of today:
Current state count: 12
Current cities count: 17
Current Little Free Library count: 39
As you venture out this spring on spring break vacations, weekend getaways, or just a regular old Wednesday, please consider picking up a copy of The Cube and placing it in a Little Free Library by you.
If you live in a state we’ve already covered, still do it! States are big! Cities are big! I have put a ton in just Chicago alone. Don’t let it stop you. The more the better!
If you know people in other cities or states that might have fun, please encourage them to participate!
If you aren’t in the US and still want to play, send me photos from abroad and I will ABSOLUTELY add them to my webpage.
Why should you do this? WELL…
Obviously this gives me something to promote, and hopefully will garner a few sales, but that’s really not my main objective. This Little Free Library project has brought SO MUCH JOY!
It’s SO MUCH FUN to see the creativity of the people that put the libraries up, all the design styles, the reasons why they went up, and book genre choices. It’s crazy to know I will probably never know who picks up my book and how many other people might get it if it gets placed into the same (or a different) LFL again. It’s so lovely and whimsical and I hope you will pick up on that vibe too.
I love the Little Free Library organization and they have been really supportive and encouraging of this project. When I contacted them to tell them about it, they were all for it. Very nice people. To learn more about them, please visit their website and consider a donation!
With unending appreciation,
PS… just a quick note… A signed copy of The Cube with an author meet-and-greet is up for auction for the Waters Elementary School’s annual Big Night fundraiser. I’m happy to help raise money for this great school. It’s item #1028. You can find it under “Browse Items” or under the category “Entertainment.” The auction is live until Friday, March 8 so place your bid today!
Happy Holidays everyone!
I debated about whether or not to do a ‘buy my book this holiday season’ post. On the one hand, seems kind of mandatory for an indie author. On the other hand, gross, right? But, I have to admit, I still get major warm fuzzies when people buy the book, read the book, or post about it - so - you gotta do what you gotta do! Let me say THANK YOU to everyone who has read The Cube this year, talked about it, posted about it, etc. - I’m so grateful. Seriously, you have no idea.
For those of you who haven’t bought the book yet - or would like to stock up for holiday gifts - here’s a buying guide and info on my holiday raffle!
I’m honored that the following indie bookstores now carry The Cube. Please support these stores and shop local if you can:
If you don’t see your favorite bookstore on this list, any bookstore should be able to order the book on request.
You can also purchase the book online in paperback or eBook format at:
For your e-Reader, The Cube should be available on all major e-Reader platforms.
DIRECT FROM AUTHOR - SPECIAL PRICES!
If you would like to buy directly from me, let me know. I can also sign and/or dedicate the books if that is preferred. As for price, here is my holiday special:
Reply to this email and/or post if you are interested and we can arrange payment and book distribution. If you are not local, we can discuss shipping options. Shipping rates may apply.
If you buy a book and place it in a Little Free Library and post about it using the hashtags #TheCubeNovel and #LittleFreeLibrary, you will be entered in a raffle drawing for the prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Every post is one entry. Please be sure to tell people where the Little Free Library is located. Also, I want to give a little more time for this one, so I will choose the winner on February 1, 2019. Yay for Little Free Libraries!
Thank you again for all your support. Happy shopping!
PS… for the raffle posts… a few quick tips:
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Over a month in fact. I can’t believe it’s taken me that long to write another update. It’s not for lack of things going on. I’ve been having the most fun with promoting The Cube through Little Free Library giveaways. I’ve made it to four states outside of Illinois since September (Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin). Stay tuned to find out what state will be next! If you have any suggestions (or decide to buy a copy of the The Cube and put it in a Little Library by you) let me know!
The biggest news by far has been my book option - aka someone wants to make my book into a movie! EEK! The paperwork was signed and the announcement was made on October 12. YAY! There’s still a long way to go for the filmmaker, so we don’t know what will happen, but I’m really excited for the journey. And, I learned a lot through the process so I wanted to share that will all of you.
So first, what is a book option? Basically, if someone options your book it means that you are granting them the rights to try and make the book into something else - e.g. a TV show or a movie. Could even be a song. The person that optioned my book, Mitch Yapko, now has the permission to go to investors and movie management and say, “I have the rights to this book. Help me make a movie.” Very exciting.
I’m going to paraphrase the next part, so don’t take this as any kind of legal advice, but from what I gathered through the process, there are two kinds of options. One is a basic option, which can be granted to more than one person. So that’s saying to one or more person, sure, you can try and get this made into a movie but if someone else gets there first, I may go with them. The other is a purchase option, in which the exclusive rights are granted to one person. The officially terminology might be slightly different but that’s the gist. The purchase option is what Mitch and I went with. So, exclusive rights are yours Mitch! Onward my friend!
A few things…
So I imagine, the burning question is, “How DID you get your book optioned?” Well, like in all things publishing, there are million ways these things happen. For me, it truly was through social media. I posted a ton when my book came out. My college friend, the aforementioned Mitch, saw the post and bought the book. He read it, loved it, and sent me a message asking if we could connect. We talked, and I could tell that he really understood and appreciated the book, and he asked me if he could option it. I said yes and then all we had to do was make it official. If I hadn’t been aggressively posting on Facebook, he may never have seen it. So, the moral of the story there is - don’t be shy folks, you never know what will happen.
The next step was actually pulling the agreement together. That’s what ended up taking more time. I don’t have an agent and didn’t have a lawyer. Mitch also didn’t have representation for this type of agreement. So, we had to tag team it. We did a lot of online research on what goes into agreements like this. I asked some of my friends that are in the creative industry about book options and he did the same. Then, he started looking for a manager and I started to look for a lawyer, because, in my experience, finding a lawyer is way less work than getting an agent to sign you.
Still, even if finding a lawyer is easier, you have to find the right one. I met with several people. All were nice. All were knowledgeable, but it wasn’t until I talked to Odell (Odell Mitchell III of Thirdinline Legal) that I knew I’d found my person. From the first phone call we just had a great vibe and I thought - this is the person I want representing me. At the end of the day, if you are going to put your work in the hands of someone else, you have to find someone that meshes with your style. So, the first thing I actually signed was an agreement of representation with Odell. Odell made that part very easy.
How did I find Odell? Through my network. I asked a bunch of my friends that have larger social networks if they know of any entertainment lawyers. A friend of mine emailed her friend. Her friend suggested Odell. The way the world goes round. My best advice here is to ask your network. If your friends like someone, chances are you will too. (PS… this is how I found all the people I met with actually. All were referrals from friends.)
Once I had Odell, we still needed to get the paperwork in order. In these cases, it is up to the book optioner (aka Mitch) to present the paperwork to the author. They want the option, they do the work. Because the internet has everything, we were able to find a sample agreement which Mitch took the time to review, fill in, and adapt, and then he sent that to me. I sent that to Odell. Odell revised it and counseled me why he made the changes. Mitch and I agreed on all the points. We both signed and voila! The option was complete!
I’d say the whole thing took a couple of months.
So, now what? Well, now Mitch has the hard part. He is writing the screenplay and is going to be pursuing all avenues to make the movie. I have the easy part. I sit back and am at the ready if he has any questions along the way. We’ve already had one really fun screenplay conversation. He asked me a lot of questions about the world in the book. I got to tell him about things I’d loved to see be in a movie (still up to him if he puts them in though) and he told me about some things he’s envisioning. I’m sure it will be the first of many such talks, which leads me to think this whole thing will be quite fun. One of his questions intrigued me; he asked me if there are still homeless people in the world I created in The Cube (my short answer was yes). The question so intrigued me that I wrote a few pages on it from the point of view of a completely new character named Kaitlyn who works at a homeless shelter. I typed that up and sent it off to Mitch. I’ll be honest, part of me hopes that keeps happening because it was a lot of fun.
A lot of people ask me if I am worried about giving up my book to someone else. I can honestly say, not at all. I wrote my book. Mitch will make his movie. They are different creative endeavors. Maybe it’s easier because I’m working with someone I care for and trust, but even if that wasn’t the case, I think I’d feel about the same. I expect the movie will have a lot of differences, and I actually can’t wait to see them. I’m honestly sincerely and genuinely flattered that he asked. It’s one thing for me to love my book. It’s mind-blowing to find out someone else does too. I am SO excited for Mitch. I can’t even express it. I’m already proud of him.
So, that was my book option experience. I hope that it is a little helpful for those out there who might be going through the same thing, or at least interesting for folks who just want to know a little bit more about how these things work. I’m sure there are tons of posts out there about more complicated ways these things happen - authors who are soliciting options or who are in an option bidding war or who have agents that shop their book around for optioning - but my experience was very grassroots, which to be quite frank, goes along perfectly well with my experience with the The Cube overall.
I promise to keep you all posted as I find out more about the movie. For now, if you want to learn more about Mitch, Odell, or any of the people I work with on my writing journey, check out my collaborators page. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people.
As ever, I remain committed to documenting my writing journey with you, and it’s been quite the week. I’m at the tail end of an entire week off of work. I took the week to focus on editing my channillo.com series Amache’s America into novel format. It’s been a lot of “how do I do this?” followed by, “oh my goodness, this is really working!” followed by, “I should start watching Friday Night Lights (finally) and get addicted so that I have something to distract me from the utter disaster that is writing a book.” Ultimately though, I have made some very good progress and I’m really pleased with how far this week has taken me.
So, what does it mean to change my channillo.com series to a novel? Well, as many of you know, channillo.com is a serial fiction website. Writers on the platform post small segments of work on a daily, weekly, monthly basis (or whatever frequency suits them). The work varies from poems to journal entries to short stories, to my style -- writing a chapter a week of a longer format piece.
The style of writing a chapter a week is very different than writing a contiguous story. A chapter a week allows for much more jumping around, from character to character to whole leaps in plot points. It also requires for there to be a good ‘hook’ at the end of each chapter to keep people coming back. This ‘hook’ is much more dramatic than the hook from chapter to chapter in a novel.
The platform itself promotes shorter chapters as well. If my chapter goes too long, it’s cut into segments, which isn’t ideal from a reader experience, so I have to keep things short. This doesn’t allow for paragraphs to always breathe the way I’d like them too.
Most importantly, a chapter a week over 18 months (which is how long I took to write Amache’s America until I thought the story had been told) leads to some serious story scope change, tone change, and some fuzzy consistency issues, some of which are small and some of which are glaring when you stop to read it from start to finish.
So, if I want to get it published in novel format, I need to clean it up. I need it to read smoothly, and have a coherent plot structure, and make the tone stays the same throughout. And, at about 50,000 words all told on the website, I need to add about 30,000 words to it to get it to a good novel length.
So, this week I’ve been diving in. Reading and re-reading it. Figuring out where the story needs to grow. Adding in new characters to round out the story arcs. Figuring out what can stay and what needs to get cut. Adding in some more exposition. Taking out serialized fiction tactics. Figuring out who my characters are in this new format. And trying to think of a new title for the novel version, because it really is a new thing. Titles are tricky and I want to get the new title right. It’s like taking a giant puzzle, shaking it like a etch-a-sketch, and then putting it back together again. It will resemble what came before it, but it won’t be the same.
Truth be told, I had a fantasy that by the end of the week I’d be done. That somehow if I sat down and focused for a week straight I’d have an entire series edited, reformatted, and 30,000 words added. I love that I thought this. I love that I really went for it. But, seeing as it’s Friday morning and I’ve got quite a lot left I want to do, I know that’s not quite realistic. BUT. BUT. I’m on the road now. I know specifically what I have to do, which is not something I could say when I started. So, after this week I think I’ll be just fine going back to evenings and weekends and early mornings.
And, because there’s no rest for the wicked, this isn’t the only project I’ve been working on this week. I launched my new channillo.com series, The IT Girl on Tuesday (new chapter every Tuesday!) and I’ve finally found someone to help me market The Cube a little more aggressively, so I’ve been pulling together materials for that and I’m excited to keep promoting that book too.
All in all, this week has given me a glimpse of what my life would be like if I was a full-time, work-from-home writer. Probably more so than when I took time off to work on The Cube. Because now I have multiple projects in various stages and I am not completely debilitated by the “what ifs” of it all. Honestly, this week writing has really seemed like a job and not the same passion project, leap of faith, it did back in 2016 when The Cube was still a pipe dream. Now, I know what I have to do and I’m doing it. (If only writers could get paid for being writers. That’s the next pipe dream to tackle).
As for the job of being a full-time writer -- I think I’d be good at it. But, this week has also reminded me about how lonely writing can be. About what it feels like to mill around my apartment when my brain just can’t write anymore. And that makes me miss my job. A lot.
Can I just stop to express how grateful I am that I was able to take this week off of work to write? Right now, it seems like I have the best of both worlds. I have a job that I really like, that challenges me, and that keeps me stable, and the flexibility to continue to pursue my writing and have this second job of being an author. I’m really lucky. In more ways I can ever express.
So, stay tuned for the novel format of Amache’s America - title TBD. Continue to support The Cube by posting on social media with the hashtag #TheCubeNovel and, of course, buying it. And, check out my new series, The IT Girl on channillo.com.
Thanks for following along on this journey. I appreciate you!
I hope you all have been having a great summer. It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of August already! This summer has been full of book-related events, including a great meet-and-greet at The Book Bin in Northbrook in June and a book reading as a part of Local Author’s Night at the Book Cellar in July.
I also had fun selling books at Printers Row Lit Fest and have loved all the posts from around the US and the globe of The Cube coming along with you on summer vacations and outings. Keep the photos coming!
If you don't believe that social media posts work, here’s some proof. I spotted this review on Amazon the other day and it’s all thanks to you! Even if you’ve posted already, posting again can and will make a difference. So please keep it up, and thank you!
I was also able to make my first donation to The Night Ministry this summer too. For every review I receive on Amazon and/or Goodreads, $1 goes to them. Every time I hit 20 reviews, I send them a check. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to their cause last month, so please keep the reviews coming too.
For my final big event of the summer, I will be on the radio this Sunday, August 19. From 1-2pm I will be on the show “Playtime with Bill Turck & Kerri Kendall” - Chicago’s only radio show dedicated solely to the arts. I met Bill at The Book Cellar event and I can’t wait to chat with him and Kerri more about The Cube and the arts in general. You can learn more about their radio show on their website and you should be able to listen live on the 1590 WCGO website if you don’t get that station where you live. It will be my first time on the radio so wish me luck!
There are other exciting book-related projects in the works, both on The Cube and on other books I’m working on, so please stay tuned. Thank you all for helping me spread the word. In the name of ruthless self-promotion, here are some closing reminders…
I think that’s all for now. I can’t believe it’s been less than five months since The Cube was released. It’s been a roller coaster, and I’m glad each of you is along for the ride.
It’s time to get real about my experience selling my book as an indie author. The long and short of it is that I hate it. Hate is a strong word. I dislike it. Greatly. Like, a lot. On second thought, I stand by my original statement. I hate it.
Why do I hate it?
Well, a lot of it is personal. I don’t like asking people for things. And that’s all this is. Asking people to buy the book. Asking people to review the book. Asking bookstores to carry the book. Asking book clubs to host the book. Asking people to tell their friends about the book. Everything is based on asking people.
I wish there were ways to circumvent the ask. I’ve tired a few. But, as far as I can tell, they are all expensive or very time consuming.
For example, I paid for a press release. The vendor used sent out word of my book to over 2,000 places. At first the cost seemed crazy, but then I thought about all the time and effort I’d have to put into contacting each place myself and thought it was a frickin’ steal. Want the major newspapers, book review outlets, magazines, even local TV stations to know about your book but not have to spend hours and hours looking up submission guidelines for each one? Press release!
But the cost-benefit from it wasn’t the engagement I got afterwards (which as far as I can tell has been minimal). The cost-benefit analysis was checking all 2,000+ of those places off of my mental to-do list.
Another example of expenses: submitting for “Book of the Year” awards. Some are as little as $15, but how many $15 submissions can you do before it becomes expensive?
What about ads? I decided to pay for one - the New York Review of Books. I picked The Summer Issue which will publish in August and be out for six weeks. But even that - it’s one little ad. What do I expect from it? I have NO idea. Nothing?
And then, of course, there’s posting. But figuring out 800 different ways of saying the same thing (aka -- buy my book) is really time consuming and I don’t really know what works and what doesn’t.
That’s the other thing very personal thing I hate about selling the book. I constantly feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve had a couple people graciously take time out of their lives and work to send me their ideas for marketing and how I could promote my book. Some of the ideas I have implemented. Some (thankfully) I was already doing. The rest? WHO HAS TIME? OR HOW DO YOU START?
I keep telling people I feel like the goal post keeps moving. Write the book. Edit the book. Get the book published. Launch the book. Sell the book. Make the book go viral. These are all completely different disciplines that have very different personalities behind them. Whatever introverted part of me retreats into literature and storytelling is the exact opposite part of me that is at a book fair yelling at people passing by to “please stop by and buy my book! Yes, me, the girl standing here with one book next to the guy that has seven or eight different books with multiple publishers. Buy this one!”
Remember my raging impostor syndrome?
The gist of it is, no one knows how to make anything go viral. There are so many plans out there. But, unless you have an endless supplementary income to spend on promoting yourself OR you have all the time in the world to hoof it to indie bookstores or craft the perfect emails/pitches/approaches, you really are reliant on the grace and generosity of other people.
Which gets me back to the beginning: I hate asking people for things.
And a huge part of me wants to stop.
Because it’s been a not-insubstantial source of stress.
But then I think, in reality, it’s only been a few months.
And I’ve already accomplished a lot.
So, maybe instead of stopping, I just need to scale it back? But, if I scale it back, I can almost guarantee that my book sales will completely stop. And isn’t that just basically choosing to stop anyway?
Now you’re really getting a taste for how my brain works.
At the end of the day, I need to retreat to my comfort zone: Gratitude
For every person that has already bought the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has read the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has reviewed the book on Amazon or Goodreads - THANK YOU
For every person that has posted a photo on social media - THANK YOU
For every person that has told someone else about the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has come to a book event - THANK YOU
If I don’t sell a single additional book, it’ll all be worth it for 1. Getting to hold my book in my hand after all these years and 2. For all of the people that have been so kind to date. You have no idea how much your support has meant to me. Truly. From the bottom of my heart. You are THE. BEST.
I don’t know how to make my book or word of my book branch out beyond my circle of very amazing friends and family. But at the end of the day, maybe I don’t have to. Maybe that’s not the point. Maybe instead of this being a blog post about how much I hate selling books, it’s actually a blog post about how I need to get back to what I love - which is writing them.
To that end, I end this post with this announcement: My channillo.com series Amache’s America will be completed on July 24. I’ve already taken all the content, printed it out, and am reading it again from start to finish. I’m taking notes on what I need to change, add, edit, etc. I’ll need to add at least 30,000 words to get it to novel length. I’m working with the same editor that I had for The Cube to convert it from online vignettes to a real story. So, book #2 is on its way. YAY! I will also be starting a new series on channillo.com. More on that soon.
So, I guess the moral of the story is -- when confronted with something that you hate, go back to remembering what you love. I still hate selling books. But I love writing them. And I love people that love books too.
Thank you for continuing to follow along with me on my journey. As always, stay tuned!
Thank you all for your support of The Cube. It’s been a crazy two months and we are just getting started. I have several events coming up that I’m hoping you can attend and help spread the word. I can’t do this without your help - so thank you!
Printers Row Lit Fest
Saturday, June 9, 2018
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Chicago Writers Association Tent - Tent O
I will be selling The Cube at Printers Row this year. Come by to say hi and to check out all the other amazing CWA authors. For any Channillo friends, David Berner will also be there so it will be twice the fun!
Local Author Night and Book Signing
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The Book Bin Northbrook
1151 Church St Northbrook, IL 60062
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
I will be hosting a local author night at The Book Bin in my hometown of Northbrook. I will do a short reading and then open it up for Q&A. Books will be available for purchase onsite for signing. There will also be wine and snacks!
Here’s a link to the evite. If you can make it, please let me know so that we can make sure we have enough wine - a key component to the evening :)
Local Author Night
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The Book Cellar
4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60625
I will be one of the featured Local Authors at the monthly Local Author Night at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Come by to meet some great authors. Books will be available for purchase and signing. No RSVP required.
I hope to see you at one of these events. And please, help spread the word. The more the merrier. Use the hashtag #TheCubeNovel or tag me.
In Other News...
Thank you all again for your ongoing support. Summer is such a fun time to dive into reading. I hope The Cube will be on your summer reading list!
If you take a photo of yourself reading The Cube at a great summer location - the beach, camping, the pool, etc, please tag it so I can see it. You know I love photos!