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!