The Daily Insanity
See that book cover up there? It's taken over my entire life, and no I'm not complaining but I thought I'd share a little insight today on what it takes to get a book noticed in today's competitive environment. Let me start by sharing, for those of you that don't know me, that I'm the mother of five so you understand that I'm not just dealing with book stuff. Each weekday morning I wake up at 5 to get the kids on the bus by 6 so that my work day can begin. Pretty average schedule for most working moms, just not one I thought a stay at home would be dealing with. After 22 years I finally have all my kids in school or in the work force, so you'd think I could sit around watching soap opera's all day and having a relaxing time right? Wrong!
Back in 2009 I was roleplaying on Twitter with the True Blood roleplayers, and I came to the conclusion that if I'm going to spend all this time writing, I might as well write my own original stuff. Cara Faith Donovan was born! I had no idea that Cara was going to change the way I lived my life. My original thought was I'm going to write down all these stories that flood my mind and share them with my friends.
After finishing the first book I felt I had written something pretty interesting and I attempted to send it out to traditional publishers. Ask me how that went! It didn't. I'd been reading about Amanda Hocking and Konrath, and I said to myself after a year of failed attempts to get published, I can do that! I had no idea what I was doing, and it took two years of failed attempts and rewrites to even come close to a book that was easily read.
Tears of Crimson was my learning tool, and boy do I wish I knew then what I know now because it was my baby and I feel like it never got the love it deserved. But it gave me a life lesson that I will never forget! After three years of studying everything I could get my hands on, and finding what worked and what doesn't, I feel like I'm finally at that place where I have a beginners knowledge of what it takes to write and sell a book!
Okay so putting all that aside, let's talk about what I do on a daily basis now. I'm not pulling your leg when I say I put at least 6 hours a day in that has absolutely nothing to do with writing. People on the outside looking in might say, you're sitting at home and have no idea what it's like to have a real job. Let me tell you that as a Respiratory Tech for 7 years prior to becoming a housewife, I KNOW what it's like to have a real job and this one is much more stressful and if you don't do it right, you don't get paid!
My business day starts at 6 a.m. and usually it's opening emails and sorting through posts that will go out for the Tears of Crimson site that week. I also maintain the Books Debut, so it usually takes a good solid hour, depending on how well the people have written their guest blog posts, or two hours if I have to come up with something to talk about when there are no guests on the site.
Checking the rankings on the books gives me a list for the rest of my day. If a book is doing well in it's category, then I can move on to other tasks (like I don't know, say WRITING), but if those ranks have slipped then promotions are the sole focus. Panic sets in and you have to stop everything you intended to do for the day and focus on getting that book in front of new people. That means going to Google and checking out news for the last 24 hours on book marketing and seeing how I can implement something that goes along with the books. The most important part of promotion, at least to me, is finding new readers. Let me just tell you that it's not easy.
Promotions are the bane of my existence! I would gladly pay someone to take over this aspect because it drains every ounce of creative energy I have from my body. That being said, trusting someone else to do what you know will work is not easy to give up. Goodreads, Pinterest, Twitter, Stumble Upon, and Facebook have become the center of my world. Finding new and interesting ways to entice people, just to get them to THINK about reading a book, it's overwhelmingly time-consuming. I've become the ultimate Book Pimp, meaning my life centers around getting you to read what we're writing.
There is nothing easy about self-publishing if you plan on being successful. Books just don't go out and sell themselves. You are competing in a market full of authors with the same dreams you have. To even get your book noticed, you have to be out there making a name for yourself and hopefully finding people willing to give you the time of day since you aren't with a traditional publishing company. It will keep you up at night trying to find new ways to build a fan base. The upside is when you do have a book hit the top rankings for it's category, it's the biggest rush you can imagine!
There are great rewards when you succeed, and my number one piece of advice to anyone considering self-publishing is just this: Be prepared to work your butt off and know that it's a huge investment of time and energy for the majority of us. Sure there are those people that get lucky on their first release, but reality for the rest of us is that this is something you have to work hard at to succeed.