Sparkle and Fade: The lifelong question of the author (Tuesday Two cents)

I keep seeing various forms of the same question being asked on blogs, in forums and personally from authors. Please note, that I did not say INDIE author, I simply said author.

CHARLES

I really am picking on you, and all the other authors out there. Mostly you.

So, this question goes a little something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I have done everything I can to keep my sales going, but it

seems like they have just fallen off. I have settled into a

pattern of selling very few copies each day. I can’t figure out

where I am going wrong. Has anyone else had this

experience?”

I would like to dissect these statements and eventual question and offer my take on the situation. So here we go.

 

So you published a book right? Yep. Good on you! Hours of slaving away behind a computer compiling words in a strict order that are intended to wow audiences into disbelief of your awesomeness!

You have read everything you can find on the internet and in books about how to be successful at social media marketing, trends in the book industry, formatting, distribution etc.

You have written and rewritten and written one more (or a hundred more times) your blurb. You have chosen the best quote from your book or from a reviewer for your cover.

You have spent money, time and effort on your cover ensuring that it really relates your story in a visual way.

 

The first couple of weeks your sales are okay. Not the million plus books you dreamed about late at night when no one was looking and you were awake staring at the ceiling. Still, sales haven’t been bad.You have gotten a few reviews and they have been pretty good. You’ve possibly survived your first really bad 1 star review at this point and set aside the time for the appropriate meltdown. Was it good? I bet it was. Mine were too. I didn’t like that vase anyway.

 

You have been good about posting to your blog, word of mouth marketing, have passed the book to others aside from your immediate family and friend circle. You do regular social media updates and you do guest blogs, author interviews and take advantage of every other opportunity you can to spread the word about the goods you have to sell. You have finally gotten over the sting of having to give away something you worked hard on to increase sales. Look at that, you are almost all grown up.

Then the book has a burst of success!! You get up to your first goal number of books sold. Be it 100, 500, 1,000 or for you really big success hounds, 15,000. You made it onto the various lists on Amazon and while you were there more books started selling and you made it onto more lists. You are on top of the world. There is no way you are ever coming down from here. With your book being so successful in so many places you are guaranteed that someone from a movie studio or a major publishing house is going to spot you and drag you from the pit of misery you currently live in, watching your numbers go up and down, climbing and then falling off the lists, feeling joy and then heartache as your baby struggles first to stand and then to walk and then swiftly falls down on their bum and refuses to get back up and try again.

Hi. My name is reality. This is called being an author.

I don’t care of you are an indie author or a traditionally published author. You are an author and that means you have been cursed and blessed to this life. Enjoy it, appreciate it, live it to the fullest.

Do you really think that you are alone in this? Do you think that others, even the ones who are currently on the New York Times best sellers list are not going through the same thing. Woo! Guess what? When John Grisham falls off the NYT list and is replaced by some author no one had ever heard of before, his shame is public. Your shame of falling off the mover’s and shaker’s list on Amazon, more private, but still painful. Look at the parallel lines there peeps. You wrote a book. So did John. You both went Humpty-Dumpty and had a great fall.

If your book does not do well and you are with a small publisher or you have self pubbed, there are opportunities to correct the book, make it bigger, badder, better and try it again. Give it a new cover if that is part of the problem. Rewrite the blurb. Find new advertising sources.

If John’s book bites the big one guess what? There are a HELL of a lot more steps to correcting it. Chances are, the word about a poorly written book from a major author will travel faster than the speed of light, thus relegating the book to a deserted wasteland of missed opportunity. Your book, on the other hand, still trucking along even at a few sales a day, and no one is really saying anything bad about you. Go, read the bad reviews and negative comments about John’s book. It might make you feel better.

 

Here are some basic things that you must realise when you are staring at your numbers and trying to make sense of them.

 

1. Every single author whether published traditionally or not is going to have a different experience. Yes, there are some absolute no no’s and there are some good examples to be followed with hope of success. The only guarantee you get as an author is that you will work hard.

2. Luck has a hand in the entire outcome. Some people would argue with this. Let them. Ever heard one of those stories of someone happening to be in the right place at the right time and have something amazing happen? Me too. Not to say that you don’t have to work hard, but rather that sometimes an author gets lucky (not like that, honestly people focus.)

3. Genres are different and some sell better than others. Do you have more chance of selling books in the romance/erotica genre than in any other? Research would say yes. There are fads for each genre. Depending on what the current market trend is, you could do the exact same thing with your book two years in a row and get two completely different results. Sadly, a very poorly written book in one genre may outsell an excellent book in another genre.

4. Unless you are very strange, the call to be a writer was never about money in the first place. If you have given up all other forms of work to be a writer, you had better be dedicated, determined and have a thick skin. I am not saying you cannot support yourself with your writing, I am saying that until you have built enough of a following–until you have enough steady sales–you may have to do some piece work as well. Freelance writing can be tough, but it can also pay the bills when times are lean. You can also monetize your blog, should you have the desire to do so.

5. Being a lower ranking author is no different than being a top author from a major house when it comes to give and take. When a big name author puts their seal of approval on another author’s work, it may have actually been the publicist that arranged for those words to magically appear on that cover. When you don’t have a team of editors, publicists and so on behind you, then you do this work yourself. Either way you must learn to give and give often. Don’t make it all about you. Take a hint from the above mentioned author Charles Yallowitz

He is great at this particular aspect.

Share your blog with other authors who want to do guest posts. Read other author’s work and do the same thing you are asking of them. You didn’t get to where you are alone. You won’t go any further than you are alone either. Appreciate that others are going through the same thing.

6. Grow a pair. (Ladies this includes you too.) If you are going to make it in this world of hard selling your brand, name, book(s) to an audience of unadoring fans who have no idea who you are, find your inner self confidence. Doubt and negativity will only harm you.

If you were selling X number of books before and now you are only selling % number of books, this is called life. Do you really take the time to examine what this means? If you have 1 copy of your book in someone’s hands, you are reaching an audience you never would have reached if you had not published your book. 2 people is twice that many. Wow! What are you complaining about again? Two strangers who don’t know you from Adam are reading your work, possibly all the way across the world from you. How can this be a disappointment?

Ever heard of 6 degrees of separation? Really, go look it up. Yes, I really did plan for that to be part of #6. The rule in action.

7. Write your bum off. Seriously. Whether you write in multiple genres or the same genre, the most important thing if you intend to take the world by storm with your writing is that you keep putting out books. Everywhere you go, there you are. If you are dedicated to supporting yourself with your writing, then you must be disciplined and treat it like a full time job.

When you were working your past life job (pre writer) did you let the TV stop you from working? Did the other distractions stop you from doing your work. Not if you wanted a paycheck they didn’t. You know that nagging voice in your head telling you to get back to writing? Listen to it, that is your boss telling you to get back to work.

8. Take a break once in a while that does not include looking at your numbers, writing or doing anything with your own work. I love strawberries. They are quite possibly my favourite food of all time. If I ate them every day I would get sick of them. You will come to a point when your writing is shite and it reflects your mood. Get away from it for a while. Go outside, get vitamin D. Do something with your family, friends, whatever. Get away. Your audience will thank you when your characters do not suddenly commit suicide in the middle of your book.

9. When you are staring at those numbers you are not working.

 

10. Pick an author, any author. Now go do some research on them. How long did it take them to get their name out there and become famous? When did you publish your book again? A few months ago. Whew. You have really fallen behind. That other author only took ten years to get his book into print and five failed attempts before one took off, what are you waiting for?

 

So here are my final thoughts: If you want it bad enough you can do it. Some things are out of your control and always will be. Serenity prayer, unless you are an atheist. Then “Oh F*ck it” will work just as well. Look outside your bubble once in a while and see what the rest of the world is doing. Write, write, write. Edit and put out the best book you can. Have some self confidence. Learn as you go. Stop stressing and write. You didn’t sign up for this to increase your blood pressure and cholesterol. You signed up to increase your sales, your fame, your success.

 

And there is my Tuesday two cents.

Coin 23

 

 

 

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94 thoughts on “Sparkle and Fade: The lifelong question of the author (Tuesday Two cents)”

  1. Six is spot on, for me anyway. Haven’t got anything self-published (yet! Still trying to find someone to help with edits and get a cover done) but every time I see someone has reviewed something on Fictionpress, even if it’s just “Please update soon!” it makes me glad to know someone, somewhere has got some joy out of something I’ve written. And yeah, there are stories there that have no reviews, no views or hits, and I’m okay with that, because I write them for the joy of writing and in the hope that someone might one day see it and like it. Great post, very motivating.

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  2. I loved this it made me smile, and I agree with it so much, well done for writing it, I hope that no one feels they are too good to use the advice.

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  3. For some reason, this didn’t show up on my reader. Great advice and I’m going to try to learn to behave. I’m going to assume that one’s first sales plunge is the same as the first 1-star review. You’re never really ready for it and 9 times out of 10, it isn’t taken well.

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      1. I should be offended that you are calling me a hobbit, but instead, I feel an odd, keen sense of pride…

        And yay for WP taking an old and silly post and trying to make it relevant by putting it on someone else’s page!

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    1. Does my title for this blog post say sparkles and fade or Ato Z blogging challenge? I am now seeing both and I never did any a to z challenge lol wp

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  4. Loved this post! I don’t have a book out there yet, but I’ll be sure to remember all this great advice for that tumultuous time. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. A bit more than two cents worth here – love it! Such a lot of common sense we all need to take note of. Like your conclusion, esp if you want it bad enough you can do it and look outside your bubble once in a while.

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  6. Reblogged this on Wyndy Dee and commented:
    You preach it girl! Most authors don’t see consistent success until they’ve published at least three books, an genre is a huge factor. Sorry, it just is! Rejoice in the highs, be consistent in the lows and keep doing what you LOVE! πŸ™‚

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  7. I’m only going to add one thing here, because it needs to be said.

    I am sick and dang tired of reading writer/author blogs where they do nothing but write about writing. I don’t care about your numbers. Don’t force me to muddle through your obsessions about characters and story and whatever and whatever and whatever. You’re a writer? SHOW ME. Write me something I can get lost in. Make me laugh. Reduce me to tears. Leave me wanting more.

    I may not be the best writer. Heck, I’m probably not much of one. But I show up every day and try to entertain. Or inform. Or pull a heartstring or several. Some times I hit and others I fail spectacularly, but I learn from doing – either way.

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      1. In my ranting comment, I used the word ‘you’ to mean the universal, not the you-you, Ionia. I think your comments here are spot-on. Would that more writers would read them and take them to heart…..or to their keyboards and computer screens.

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      2. Oh yeah, I wasn’t thinking you meant me. I’m just saying I couldn’t focus we enough to write a one subject blog if my life depended on it lol

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  8. Reblogged this on Kori Miller Writes and commented:
    Spend a little time reading Ionia’s post. I couldn’t have said it better. I’ll only add: take the bull by the horns. This is your life. Decide how you’re going to live it. Proceed. Now.

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  9. Brilliant! I love how you shoot from the hip and tell it like it is. You and your peers have forced me to be honest with myself about what my intentions are and what I need to give serious thought and attention too if I want to be taken seriously as a writer. Writing was the easy part. The real work has just begun!

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  10. Thanks for this post i!

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of it. Though I will point out: when John Grisham falls off the NYT bestseller lists, he lands on a $200 million cushion. πŸ˜‰

    I say this having received a form rejection letter from BookBub for my horror novel Night Walk only minutes ago. Rejected from PAYING for an advertisement!

    Back to writing….

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  11. Your post made me think of that quote that goes something like: I complained of having no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.

    A writer’s despair is always a case of privileged despair, surely? Either way, a wonderful manifesto on manning up (or getting/growing a pair).

    Whenever I want to put things in perspective, I think of one of the greatest artists who ever lived, Mozart, and how he had to beg and scrimp his entire life to live as a composer and musician. If such a life was good enough for a genius like him, who are we (as mere mortals) to complain?

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      1. With your being a pianist, I kind of guessed the Mozart reference might resonate with you! Thanks for sharing this stirring post β€” certainly, as writers, it’s the kind of reality check we all need to be reminded of at times.

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  12. Realistic but encouraging. We don’t often hear the “dose of reality.” The focus is usually on the “success” stories–those who made it to The New York Times list. I’ve been published and had books go out of print. I’ve felt like a failure. But I keep trying. Because writers write.

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  13. Great post Ionia! I loved it! This is really great advice writers and even other people trying to accomplish their dreams that may not be writing. The core concepts hold true for whatever you are investing your time into when following your dream. Now time to go reblog.

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      1. I’m sorry. 😦 Don’t be lonely, I am here now! πŸ™‚ I thought I had visited all your posts. Apparently I am slipping. 😦

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  14. Reblogged this on Green Embers and commented:
    Read me! Great advice for writers, authors and for anyone following their dream. Life is a series of ups and downs and so will your work, the reception to your work. Thanks for your 2 Cents Ionia! πŸ™‚

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  15. How the heck did I miss such a magnificent post!
    I would love to read a book that you wrote, would be hilarious I’m sure! πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing, this is epic, you are awesome πŸ™‚

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  16. Great post, how often soo many of us, by way of of others judgement let us DEFINE us and our worth. Is it not just letting our ‘inner critic’ go to town on us? If you enjoy it , do it! Let go of the rest, I agree be proactive, as be kind to yourself as well. That’s my two cents worth! Sending love and compassion to the, inner SOUL’ inside…lol
    love Ziggy

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. We really do tend to define our own worth by the success of others. I think at some point we all do, but it is never too late to make a change in our thinking:)

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  17. Thank you for a very honest and realistic post that keeps us grounded and focused on what we are meant to be doing and the reason why it is significant.

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  18. Great points! I’ve seen those same blogs lately. I was a little surprised that there were writers out there disappointed with only selling x amount a day when personally I’d be thrilled with those kind of results. But it just goes to show how subjective these experiences really are.

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  19. Love the 2 cents at the end, after I finished reading through it all! And a good 2 cents worth it is too.

    This was a fantastic article, Iona – just fantastic. Loved every bit of it (& it’s timely for me, you know?!)

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