Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG, The Debbie Downer Edition

Insecure Writer's Support Group's Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

For this month's IWSG post, I'm going to do some real expressing.

I'm not one to usually wallow in self-pity, but I'm really frustrated with the publishing industry. I'm a medical sales rep during the day, so I'm used to rejection and having to compete to close the deal. So high pressure and do-or-die is what I deal with on a daily basis.

There are days when I wonder if this is all worth it. Writing and publishing, I mean. I've trudged through the rejection, the heartache, and the obstacles for years...and maybe I'm just running out of steam. I look at all this time and money I'm investing, and I'm not seeing even a hint of interest out there in my work. This is all so different from my day job, because my writing is not just work. It's my art.

It's me.

I feel like I've been doing a lot of begging lately. Begging for people to read my blog. Begging for people to buy my book. Begging for reviews from the few who have read my book. Several awesome people have reached out to help, and that has been my saving grace. But I guess I'm just not able to gain any traction. No momentum.

Anyhoo, I have a second book and third book on the way. As we all know, the percent of readership of sequels drops with each subsequent volume. So, should I invest all this time and money into books 2 and 3 for even LESS readership?

I've been trying to promote myself as much as possible, but I just don't see even a blip on the screen to show me it's worth it. I still have the same four people signed up for my newsletter. My blog traffic has dropped. And my sales. Well, let's not talk about my sales. Even after making my book 99 cents, I might as well have made it $99.

Something's missing, and I just can't figure it out. It keeps me awake at night, and it's my first thought in the morning. Many would say that my writing and publishing venture is a very expensive "hobby." I guess there's worse ways to blow your money. But then there's also time. Being a writer, publisher, and marketer takes up a lot of my time, and I can't help but wonder if my time is better spent doing something else. Especially if I suck.

It's been a very long time since I've been this down, but it's my current state of mind. I don't normally have such a bad attitude, but I just had to get this out.


30 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jay, sometimes you just can't figure it out. My first book didn't take off until ten months after its release. You just can't give up. Keep writing and keep moving forward. It's all about momentum.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It can be frustrating when you're trying everything you can think of to try. So many factors go into a book's success and many of those we can't control. We just can't quit. It really won't happen then.

Julie Flanders said...

I'm sorry you're feeling so down. I can relate as I've been struggling for the past few months and have just started to feel more optimistic.Take care and please keep writing, you are too talented to quit.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've been writing a (very) long time and there are definitely times when I get down, when I run out of steam. I'm learning that sometimes it's a matter of changing your perspective, of viewing your art in a different light. I don't think there's any one answer that's right for everyone or that's right for every situation. Just know that you're not alone. Sometimes having that to hold onto is enough to get us through the funk.

Pat Dilloway said...

I've heard it said that when you have a couple more books people are more apt to invest in them versus just having one book. It can help too after you get 3 books out to make the first one free and then people are more willing to buy the others in the series.

Emma Adams said...

I completely sympathise because I'm in a similar position with my series. Starting a five-book series and struggling to get people interested in the first book has really been getting me down over the past few months - promotion's so difficult! Sometimes I think it's down to blind luck - you never know when a book might take off. The writing itself is enough satisfaction for now, but it's tough!

Cherie Reich said...

The majority of books take time to start selling (often a year or more). Plus, the more books you have out there, then the more likely they are going to be discovered. It's not the hare that wins this race, even though we'd like it to.

Robin said...

Since I don't have anything published, I can only say "listen to these published authors who have gone through the same thing."

One thing that I have noticed is that authors who pen sequels often sell the first one free to generate interest in the series. I know that there is a big debate out there about giving away your book for nothing. I think it tends to work, because I am more likely to get the first one if it's free. And if it's good I am more likely to splurge on the rest. If your first one is good, people want to know how it will end. They will want to read the rest. So, once you have that second and third book out there.... that is one more thing to consider.

Hang in there. I do believe this will get better.

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

It takes years to establish an audience. Sounds like you are doing all the right things. Just keep on truckin'. It'll hit.
Going to check out your book, btw :)
Author of Wilder Mage at Spirit Called
Facebook Wilder Mage

Christine Rains said...

I completely understand. Sometimes I feel like I'm never going to get it. I know it takes time for a writer to gain an audience. Though knowing it and being patient don't usually go together! All we can do is keep writing and putting ourselves out there.

Tony Laplume said...

You've gotten more than a half dozen more reviews than I've ever gotten. As far as where you are compared to where I am, you're ahead of the game. Don't stress so much. Easier said than done...

T. S. Bazelli said...

Writing is a tough tough business, but I hope that you don't give up. It will pay off one day I'm sure.

mooderino said...

It's a strange time for publishing with everything in a state of flux, so it's not really surprising things are tough out there. I don't think you can judge quite so quickly, though. People need time to find you.

mood
Moody Writing

J.L. Campbell said...

I'm wondering if we're in a general state of exhaustion cause life is so demanding. I look at my blog roll and find that a lot of my peeps haven't posted for months. I don't blog as often as I used to either, not can I seem to find the energy to do the other 100 assorted things that I must to keep to some semblance of a writing schedule.

I think though that when you do have the other books out you'll see an increase in the numbers. As the experts say, we have to keep up the promo end to keep our sales moving, however, it becomes exhausting. What is working for me is that people move from one of my books to the next. I know it takes a while to build up a body of work, but keep going...

Crystal Collier said...

Time. It takes time. Even those who really want to read and review your book are bound by the laws of time--regardless of how many scientific inventions we come up with to defy this phenomena. Write for those who love you, and market like a freaking genius. =) One thing I'm looking at lately is landing regular features with ezines and magazines that target your audience, or subjects your audience would be interested in. I know your book has great cover/blurb appeal from the responses when I helped with the cover reveal. It's rare I have THAT enthusiastic a response, so don't give up, but think about the avenues you have and have not exploited for getting the word out. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it... And remember, book 2 and 3 will be the means to drawing a larger audience. Typically authors see a spike in their sales once they have a complete trilogy out. Plus, once you have a few books out, you have more marketing material. I'm always happy to share the things that are/aren't working for me--if you'd like some ideas. =)

farawayeyes said...

Boy oh boy, this almost seems to be the theme this month.

Hang in there. Follow your heart. I'm pretty sure you really write for so much more than the $$$.

I'm pretty backed up right now, but I do have your book and I promise a review just as soon as I can get to it.

Lexa Cain said...

Yes, yes, yes. I'm so glad someone finally puts it out there honestly. It doesn't feel worth the struggle, yet I continue to struggle. The one good thing is that my publisher just told me she doesn't usually see books start to build traction until 1-2 years after they've be published. Maybe there is a pot of gold (or at least a few dollars) at the end of the rainbow, even if it takes us years to get there. :P

M Pax said...

I understand completely. I hope to give you a few optimistic points - one, everyone's sales are sucking right now. It may have to do with the horrid winter & no one having cash for anything besides the necessities. The sales slump has publishers and authors who earn a living writing worried.

Your book has time to gain traction. One day it will. Somedays it feels as if you could run around naked and no one will pay attention and then something happens that proves someone did hear you.

So as Jason Nesmeth would say, never give up and never surrender.

What worked w/ my Backworlds was releasing books 1 and 2 very close together and setting the first book free. With that said, sales just suck right now.

Pat Hatt said...

It is a very expensive hobby indeed, but what can we do, the stories want to be told

Heather M. Gardner said...

You don't suck.
I'm having trouble too. I'm sure we will get through it.
We write because we have to, certainly not because we want to. Right?
Write what you love. The rest will have to do.
Heather

Nicki Elson said...

I've been there. Actually, I'd still be there if I continued to let my happiness rise & fall w/ my Amazon rankings. There is no sure-fire way to sell books---if there was, we'd all be doing it---so whether or not its worth it depends on how sad you'd feel to give it all up.

Marketing can be a huge time suck, so finding balance is very important---and will improve your state of mind. It's okay to pull back on the time you spend marketing, just do something every month, even if it's a small something. And even if that something is working on the next book. Because I agree with what lots of people say here---setting book 1 up as a freebie when the subsequent books come out is a good strategy AND there are lots of people who won't start a series until it's guaranteed complete.

Jenna Howard said...

This is not for the faint of heart. I wish it was easy. Sometimes.

Series are really hard. I'm discovering that right now as I have 2 on the go and I just want to take a break from them.

You may need a wee break from Zen and company. You've been working hard at them for years now and with the added stress of the two publisher snafu, it adds to it. Maybe right a short novella that has nothing to do with Zen et al. Refresh the brain, find the joy again.

As for marketing I just can't crack it.

Stay strong, my friend!

Loni Townsend said...

I say keep going with that 2nd and 3rd book! From what I've heard, it helps to have multiple titles out there for people to find you. Keep those fingers typing!

Tammy Theriault said...

I totally feel for you Jay. unfortunately my son stole your book from me so he can read it first. doesn't that say something? I think so... good enough for the family :) and I love your family and they and I have your back and all of us! we haven't ever left or forgotten you!

jaybird said...

Sometimes it helps to just put your negative thoughts down on paper, then rip them up and move on- I find it to be quite cathartic. I can relate to what you are saying, I used to be in Public Relations and Marketing. I know all too well about facing that kind of rejection on a daily basis in that business. And I also understand if they reject your product, who cares? But rejecting your book, that feels too personal. Can I try and encourage you with this: in any art form there is always some subjection. Some people absolutely love cubism, some abhor it. Does that make Picasso any less of a master? Just because someone doesn't like your style of writing, does not, my friend, by any degree, translate into you sucking as a writer. :)

Mr. Shife said...

Hang in there, Jay. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it. Just keep after it and keep believing in yourself and your work then it will take care of itself. Best of luck my friend.

Carrie Butler said...

I feel your pain, my friend! The best we can do is keep writing.

Milo James Fowler said...

I appreciate your honesty, Jay. I often wonder how readers will find me with so many other authors clogging the pipeline. Hang in there. Ride it out. Keep doing what you're doing when others quit because it's too tough. And try to have fun with it.

Cathrina Constantine said...

OMG, Jay. I feel the same way! Book sale are in the pits. I also put my book on sale last week. It did great for one day. YAY. Now spiraling into the deep. I must say to persevere, keep writing if it's what you enjoy. Just Do It! You do not suck!! Because that's my line!

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