Have you seen the ad with Mindy Kaling where she wanders around, wondering if she’s become invisible because no one seems to notice her? Finally, she interrupts a pick-up basketball game, only to discover she isn’t invisible—it just feels that way. I’m feeling a bit like Mindy these days.
For the first time in the five years I’ve been published, as far as I can determine, I haven’t sold a single book during the past thirty days. Two KU readers finished reading UNWRITTEN RULES, so I will receive a (tiny) royalty check from Amazon for July, but my KDP sales line is flat as yesterday’s lefse (a pancake to you non-Norwegians). According to Novelrank, no one worldwide has bought a copy of any of my three small-press published books in the past month, either. It’s possible I’ve sold something through another outlet, but I won’t know until figures become available from my publisher in a couple of months. Since the vast majority of my sales have always come through Amazon, I don’t spend much time worrying about other retailers.
Since I’m a writer and inclined to dissect feelings, I have to ask myself how I feel about this. Not too bad, as it happens. It’s odd, weird in fact, but not bad. Especially since I know the causes.
- I haven’t had a book out in almost two years. This is the primary reason I’ve dropped off readers’ radar screens.
- As a result of #1, I haven’t done any real promo in ages. I’m still active on social media just being me, but it doesn’t feel right to continue promoting an old title.
- Many writers, especially indies, have proclaimed that the debut of Amazon’s new subscription service Kindle Unlimited has sounded a death knell for their sales. I’m not sure that’s true for me. For a long time, I had a 50/50 balance between sales and KLL borrows. My sales slump coincided with the arrival of KU, but I think #1 is more to blame.
Some writers are quick to ascribe declining sales to any convenient outside force. I’ve read that sales are slow in the summer because people are on vacation. (Wouldn’t they want to buy a book or two to take along to the beach?) Others say sales drop in November and December because of the holidays. (What about books given as gifts?) Now Kindle Unlimited is the bogeyman. It’s always the fault of someone or something else.
I blame no one for my sales situation but myself. You read a lot of baloney on the Internet, but some of the marketing advice is actually sound. In order stay in readers’ minds, you need to publish frequently. Two books a year is good; three is better. Stay active on social media. Market yourself and your platform (though not necessarily your books) regularly. Collect email addresses. Send out newsletters. Yada, yada, yada. We’ve heard it over and over—probably because it’s true.
I’ve failed on nearly every count and take full responsibility for the result. I’m the poster child for Anti-Marketing. I have valid reasons for not publishing a book last year, but even at my most productive, I’ll probably never write more than one book a year. Again, a matter of personal choice and life balance. I hate marketing with a passion and, as a result, will never be any good at it. I’ll never do a Facebook launch party because I can’t imagine spending several hours online posting pictures of fancy dresses and nearly-naked male models and giving out prizes. I know it works, but it’s not me.
There was a time I would have embraced the stress of tight deadlines for the potential rewards of a successful writing career. That time has passed. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never be a best-selling author. I’m simply unwilling and/or unable to do what it takes. I still love the creative process of writing and have stories I want to tell. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading them—maybe not as many people as I’d like, but I’m grateful for each one.
That being said, I’m thrilled to have a new book coming out later this year. I’m close enough to finishing to say that with certainty. I love the stories in SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS TALES and will do my best to get the word out so others can enjoy them. I plan to dedicate this book to my sister writers at The Roses of Prose, who inspired it. Thank you for your support along the way!