Scarcity’s Slave

The green-eyed monster, that I like to deny even exists in me, has slithered to the surface more often than I want lately. It happens when I get all OCD on my book stats. The internet being what it is, makes it easy to not only obsess over your own numbers, but do copious amounts of comparing with other author’s numbers. Amazon is a statistician’s dream. The nerd number-cruncher in me gets caught up in cross referencing genre categories. It’s the part of me that wants an answer to the question, “How am I doing?” A question that guarantees a long time-wasting trip in search of an answer that doesn’t exist. 

And worse, just posing the question sets up a me vs them scenario (that also doesn’t really exist). If one author sells a thousand books, it doesn’t mean that another author will then  not sell a thousand. Her success does not equal my demise, but it can feel that way. 

Our society loves number crunching comparisons and a lot of what Amazon does feeds that love. You can find out who has written the most reviews, whose reviews were voted most helpful, who sold the most stuff today or even the most stuff in the last hour. It all looked so helpful and cool, until I realized the toll it was taking on the part of writing that I love. 

Most author’s don’t write that first book so that they can obsessively check their sales and rankings on Amazon. They write it out of love–for writing, for the topic, for the characters. They write it because they want to share that story and connect with other people through it. Then, after hitting that publish button, they are gobsmacked with the reality that they are now not only an author, but a small business. If they want any one to connect with their writing, they are going to have to make a lot of noise to get attention. Que up an army of gurus with advice on the perfect way to do just that. I won’t go into the mind-numbing details, but it is staggering the number of ways (with more coming everyday) that you can/could market your book and boost those numbers. As a rookie in this field, I’ve been researching and reading and trying to figure out which are right for me. 

And that was how I discovered the question I need to be asking, “What is right for me?” That answer (and there is one) turned me around. It squelched the green-eyed monster and put a lot of the joy back into writing and marketing. Looking at my writing career from that perspective, I let go of the numbers crunching that gave me heart burn and could only give me a very fleeting answer to the “How am I doing?” question. It gave me a direction that includes working with and building up other authors and truly communicating with my readers. 

My work reflects my mood and books written from a competitive perspective will smack of desperation and compromise. Passion and excitement die in that environment. However, I’m not going to lie. I’m on shaky ground for me. The place where I need to stand requires that I believe in my writing without numbers to back me up. It requires that I stand firm on my fledgling faith in myself. But I know that blindly pouring another story from my heart and gut is the right thing for me to do. It’s the action that will make me a stronger and better person, and not a frantic slave to the statistics of scarcity.

My Book Title Sucks

After much analysis–data analysis, marketing analysis and psycho analysis–it has come to my attention that the title of my second book sucks.  Which also sucks. Because it’s out there. With a cool cover (kuddos to Deranged Doctor Designs) but it doesn’t look like that can make up for the name.

 On the good side, it is part of a series, so it has one less-sucky title to lean on in book one and hopefully it can eventually become the Jan Brady of books (the invisible middle sister) when book three in the Burnouts series is released. 

I have to note, the book does not suck. It’s a great story, even if I do say so myself. I stand 100% behind this story, just not the title.

To be fair, I didn’t plan to write a second book, or even a first (at least one that anyone would see). Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks was a fit of mid-life crazy passion. I wrote it to prove to myself that I could. I put it on Amazon to see what would happen. 

What did happen? I sold a few, I got some great reviews, then got hooked. The excitement of indie publishing pulled me in like a siren song. My brain, that saturates with endorphins when challenged, was doing back flips and cartwheels at the thought of jumping in the indie publishing pool. So I read everything out there on how to sell a book on Amazon. The number one piece of advice–write another book. So I did. 

Just like kids, you think you could never love another as much as you love the first one, until baby number two comes along, and you realize you love it just as intensely. Only in all the chaos of baby number two coming along you grabbed for a name, because it rhymed with baby number one’s name and you just liked it. Then after you’ve launched (bad visual pun) baby number two into the world you realize that you’ve strapped this fantastic kid with a horrible moniker, one that in no way expresses how great this kid is. 

That’s the fact, jack. That’s what I did to my second book–my second baby. (Oh, the mommy/author guilt.) So after you read this book and love it (my prediction/hope) PLEASE tell your friends about it and tell them to overlook the title. If you love this series I need your help with this one more than any other. Until I can create book-baby number three it will have to stand on it’s own, wearing the horrible name I gave it, hoping you can see the beauty inside.

Cheap Reads

Not so long ago my buying order for books looked like this: check the library first, used bookstore second, kindle third. I knew I could find any book I wanted for my kindle, but it was always the most expensive option. 

It was only three or four years ago that most of the books I read were paperback. Now, I rarely pick up a real book and ebooks have become my first choice. Not only are books being released and new authors being published at a rate the library can’t begin to keep pace with, but all that competition has brought some aggressive price discounts to ebooks. 

I ran my first sale for the past two weeks on the first book in my Burnouts series and I discovered some great websites that will send you an email daily or weekly with a list of books in your favorite genre that are free or have been discounted–love it!! I found several books that were on my “to be read” list already and saved a few bucks on each. 

Here’s a few of the better organized sites that I found and subscribed to (for free, of course). – I met the very helpful owner, Jay, through my promotion. (Amazingly patient man with new/lost authors). Not only do they have an extensive list of free and discounted books, they also offer a read to review program. You can sign up for a free copy of a new book from an author in exchange for agreeing to give a review. It’s a great place to find new, exciting authors and give them a boost (because we LIVE for reviews). – This site has several subcategories for romance books, but covers all other genres too. I also like that you can specifically request only deals for kindle or nook or whichever device works for you. – This is the largest site for free and discounted books, but it is also very expensive for an author to place a book on their list so many newer authors cannot afford to use this option. It’s a great place to find deals on older books from established authors or discounts from established authors. 

Although I write in the romance genre, all these sites have books listed in every genre including kids books. Don’t forget that you can gift books through Amazon to someone’s email address. It’s a great way to share your favorite books with friends and family for free or a dollar or two (and no shipping!)

Fear Less

In case you missed the incessant posts and announcements, my second novel “Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale” went live yesterday. It was an exciting and very emotional day for me. The best way I can describe the feeling is that it’s kind of like sending your sweet baby off to kindergarten. You are launching part of your heart into the world and once done, there is no going back.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, this book was harder to write than the first. Because like a lot of authors, I didn’t know if anyone would ever read the first book. I didn’t write it with the intention of publishing. Then I finished it, wanted to share it, wanted to try something new and exciting, and I put it on Amazon. 

I was laughing last night remembering how I was sure there would be a mad rush to buy my first book. But what I got, after I hit publish, was a lot of silence, for quite a while. It turns out that I’m not the only one who wrote a book and put it on Amazon (go figure). 

Then the really hard part started. I had to promote my work–my work, my words. I had to tell people, “Hey, this is really good and you should read it.” I could do that all day for someone else, but for me? Skin-crawlingly uncomfortable. I love “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” but that didn’t make it any easier to put myself (a dyed-in-the-wool introvert) out there into a world of critics. I was inviting them to say, “Your book is crap and you are too.” Scary shit of epic proportions. 

But I did it. I relentlessly sent requests for reviews and put the book on read-to-review lists and begged people to tell me what they thought. 

And, because I have a very active imagination (writer’s curse/blessing), nothing that happened was nearly as bad as I feared. I got one 1-star review, and I survived. I cried, swept the porch, then blogged about it. What actually happened was the opposite of my fears. The book got great reviews. So many people wrote to say how much they connected with my characters and the story. Back to the kindergarten analogy, that was like the teacher calling to say, “You have one of the most wonderful children I have ever met.” It’s a high that is hard to describe. I can float on that connection for days. 

I self-published Burnouts nine months ago. It feels like years ago. Because I have grown and changed so much in these past nine months. I have learned a lot about being an authorpreneur (self-published author). And in the process, I have met some amazing, helpful, supportive people. 

So yesterday was such a different experience than my last book launch. I was surrounded by people who had read my first book and loved it and other authors and reviewers and bloggers who I’ve connected with. It was scary, but so much better than the first book.

My official Author pic.(Also better)

I got a review for Popstars this morning. (See Pretty Little And the reviewer talked about how I have grown as a writer. That made me so happy because I have grown as a writer and a person and it was heart-warming to have someone acknowledge it. 

I’m in the process, again, of promoting my work. Only this time I am out there waving my author flag loud and proud. I’m a much stronger person now. To celebrate this novel I bought myself a ring. It say “without fear” in Latin. I might not be completely without fear now (or ever), but I do fear less.