How do you measure your success as a writer? Is is solely based on monetary terms? Is it based on numbers? Views? Or rankings? All of this has become very complicated. When I first published my book, I had no idea what I wanted in terms of writing success. Every month, and every year this definition of success keeps changing.
One single factor that remains consistent is that I am always taken by surprise when some form of writing success comes my way. So much for my mastery in marketing!
I actually forgot that I scheduled a book promotion for this weekend. Woops! I was checking the stats of another author, which of course led to checking my own stats, and then…an ah-ha moment.
Incidentally as I write this the book went from #26 to #28! If I don’t write faster it may drop off the list entirely!!! Success no matter how you measure it fleeting.
When I was a “new” writer, I would get very excited about any measure of success. This is as it should be, which makes me wonder, as an “old” writer, am I now jaded or just too busy?
I have been a little busy with a new job, my daughter was home sick, I had a few plumbing disasters. You know, life tends to get in the way of one’s “writing life”.
Another recent discovery (again by accident) was that one of my blog posts from 2014, about buttery chardonnay, is consistently fighting for the top three position against Total Wine and Wine Spectator. What led to the discovery was I kept getting new comments on an old post. I looked at the stats, and realized it had a crazy number of steady views:
https://eileenslovak.com/2014/04/25/ten-buttery-chardonnays-for-under-20/Apr 25, 2014 … Bringing you some feasible Friday fun with numbers…just in time for the weekend ! Actually most of these wines are available for under $15, which is amazing considering the quality. Fans of the buttery, creamy variety will enjoy these ‘Fab Chards’! I like mine fruity, but on the dry side, with hints of vanilla and …
It does make me smile, to see that today, I beat out Wine Spectator. But what does this mean? I love that people are finding my post useful. It’s flattering to be google ranked among the big shots of wine for my post. But at the end of the day, most of the people in my everyday life have no idea that I even write. BTW: I use my real name on everything!
Putting “success” in perspective means finding out what it means to me to be successful. I do feel inspired by this “success” enough to make me want work on my new novel today. This equals a positive result.
My goal as a writer has always been to write for the love of writing, to publish just to say I did it, to maybe reach a small audience, to inspire, to make a few connections, and NOT to quit.
When I first published my book, I was dead set against giving it away for free. Something about spending years of my life on something and then just handing it out gratis didn’t sit well with me. What I didn’t comprehend then was the massive uphill boulder roll of marketing a novel. It doesn’t matter how good your book is if no one knows it exists. Swirling in a storm of millions of books, it’s easy to disappear and maybe never even be seen at all.
So I tried the free book thing.
For a spell, I became obsessed with Amazon’s Ranking system. My novel hitting some of the Top 100 Lists was a drug, and I needed more. I began running monthly promotions and viola, my everyday ranking remained solid. Better yet, actual sales followed. HMMMM, maybe Amazon does know a thing or two.
Here’s a snapshot of my current non-promotional rank, which changes often.
Why is seeing your book in the Top 100 is worth every free book? Because it means people are potentially reading your book. It means the cover, concept, writing, marketing copy, title, or something in that mix interested them enough to take the time to download your book.
Without readers, we writers lose our purpose. We are asking readers to take a risk. We are asking them to give us their time, which in many ways is much, more valuable than money.
I’m running a promotion on my novel, “Secret Agent of God.” It’s a Kindle Countdown deal for .99 through this Sunday, 9/5. I went to copy the link for a tweet that I was writing and discovered the e-book had hit one of the Amazon Top 100 lists @#66. So I take this as a sign not to quit writing today.
The interesting thing about writing is that writers think about quitting pretty regularly. For example, I was considering pulling the plug on this blog as recently as last week. I enjoy writing here periodically, but I am not what you would call a “pro blogger”. I guess my reason for quitting was why do it if I am not going to give it my all? Right? The same could be said about writing. Very few writers have the time and resources for 100% devotion to their craft. So why bother?
I think about giving up writing from time to time. It would be nice to have a hobby like painting or airplane model building or quilting. Do those hobbies drive you to the brink of insanity? Do they cause you to talk to or at least mutter to yourself regularly? Do they fill you with doubt and self loathing? Do they keep you up at night? I wonder if a quilter ever wakes at 3:00 a.m., sits bolt upright and then staggers around in the dark looking for the pen and paper that should by her bedside for brilliant o-dark-thirty revelations. I would be willing to bet airplane model builders sleep like babies with flying dreams all night and that painters spend their REM time skipping through the streets of Paris.
So just quit, right? What is the big deal? One less writer in the world…who cares? There are millions of us after all. Except that quitting is simply not an option, is it? We’re compelled to write, even if no one reads what we write, even if we write for a tiny audience. One person is an audience. It’s all about perspective. Keeping the right one will keep you writing.
Thank you readers! Here’s the link if you are looking for a witty, gritty, page turner to keep you up at night!
The name game. What’s in a name? Well, we’ll see! I just changed the name of my blog and my twitter page. I’m a little bored with my current set up so I’m changing things up.
Lately, I’ve held my breath,
waiting for a gust of fresh air about book promotion and my writing life…
and I then I started turning blue…
wow! That sucked.
I knew I needed a new focus!
I think we can all agree that no one cares to hear any more advice about writing. Writers aren’t really experts on writing anyway. We know what is working for us and that’s about it. Here’s what I’ve learned in eight years of trying to become a professional writer…read more…write more…edit everything twenty-five times before you publish it and then hire an editor…done! That’s all I know! So I will continue to post short solitary fiction that doesn’t fit “Seeing Scarlet” and the odd poem here and there (see The Authors Spouse).
As regards book marketing…three months in and I’ve already had it. I wasn’t cut out for this BS! Buy my book, don’t buy my book, whatever! I wrote it for readers but so did a few million other authors who are selling on Amazon’s site. It’s a fast read. Many folks seem surprised by how much they enjoy it and that there’s humor in the book. Maybe the title scares them a bit. I know eventually word will get out. Meanwhile, I’m working on the sequel to “Secret Agent of God” and writing some more shorts of “Seeing Scarlet”:
I have experimented with different promos and what have you. Here’s what I found: twitter and Facebook ads will get you more followers, but do those translate into book sales? I’m not sure. You need to focus your energy on finding people who read, plain and simple. I leave my business cards with my book links in libraries and at restaurants I frequent, everywhere that I can:
If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer, and eventually give them my card.
I post flyers on community selling boards. You have to do this often since most remove them weekly.
People who read buy books. You need a presence on book reading sites.
Pricing: I did some pricing strategy research recently. So many authors are giving their books away or selling their e-books below $2.99 or for $.99 that if you do try to sell your fiction at a higher price you may suffer from lagging sales. My best sales price so far has been a .99 promo for the e-book but if I always make it .99 then I’m forced to make it free for promotions. Amazon promotes books that are under $2.99 or .99 and take part in the kindle countdown deals, so there you have it. Why not allow Amazon to do what they do best, which is promote stuff like books.
Thoughts on free: I’m a hold out on free. If you want to read my free works please click over to the short story tab or read this blog. There’s something discouraging about busting your butt to write a good novel and then giving your book away. I give my book away to family, my best friends, the library, for fundraisers, etc. So, I’ll let you know how this works out, but for now my e-book is $2.99 and the paperback is $9.95 or $8.95 for prime members. I will occasionally run a .99 promo. The e-book cost less than a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk or a fancy coffee, and I promise it’s worth it, so that’s that. Here’s the link:
Book promotion in general. I come from a sales and marketing background and I would still much rather promote someone else’s work on twitter, my author page or my blog than my own. If I’ve read the book and liked it I may put a review up there as well. I don’t write bad reviews because I have no interest in hurting a fellow writers feelings in a public way. I leave that to the haters. If I have read a sample of your book and didn’t care for it I won’t read any more of it. If you asked for feedback, I will be honest in a private message. If you can’t handle my honest opinion please don’t ask me. I’m one person with one opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, ask someone else.
About Facebook, I keep my personal Facebook page for family and close friends and my Facebook Author page for writing stuff. Please don’t be offended if I divert you to my public page. This way I don’t bore my family and friends with too much book stuff and I don’t have to bore you with pictures of my kids playing sports and my cat.
OK, sometimes Licorice appears in both places. She’s my first ‘Beta reader’ or ‘Beta listener’ since I’m pretty sure she can’t read, although, I strongly suspect she might be trying to figure out how to use the toilet and turn door knobs and is smarter than some humans.
Since Facebook is really not my thing, I prefer to put a variety of other authors book links on my author page for my fans because how often can I talk about my book without being a total bore and most of them have already read it. I read a post by another writer complaining about authors posting their book links, looking for likes on their pages. I guess if you are famous I can see where that might bug you. I’m not famous but I have some followers who read. If you need some help, send me message, a link or whatever. Some nice writers helped me when I was a flailing newbie and I’m happy to help others in any way that I can.
On my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/authoreileenslovak I will also be adding some pictures and quiz type things about my book, “Secret Agent of God” since it is about Maryland and several readers have begun asking things like, “Is this character based on this person or that person” and “which little Bay front home was Gram’s?” Things like that. I thought it would be a fun exercise and like I said, when I’m not writing, I’m bored.
My favorite medium is twitter. https://twitter.com/EileenSlovak I do follow back unless you are crazy, perverted, naked, racist, bigoted, or exclusively only selling followers. I consider twitter a place where writers like me with ADD and OCD can connect with my audience and with like minded people who also have short attention spans. I love that on twitter I can show off my writing prowess with ‘quippy’ catchy phrases in 140 characters or less. If that audience is 3 people, so be it. If it’s one person, well it’s that much more intimate now isn’t it? Actually, I have a great following on twitter, so join me and if I like your tweets, I’ll share them. Incidentally, I’m trying to get these hash tags off the ground: #Janice #SAOG.
So, my future promotional energy, which is waning as we speak, will go in this new direction. Because I’d rather be writing than doing anything else and for Indies this is a challenge!
So what do I really want to blog about? Being a female writer over 40 with kids who run rings around me and about things I laugh about with my girlfriends. What else occupies my mind? Sometimes I have bizarre thoughts that I’d like to share. I truly miss having fun. To those of you who stuck it out through my boring phase, thank you and wake up!!! Things are going get spicier around here. I’m turning this thing around, putting it in reverse and spinning a few wild donuts in parking lot near you! Come along for the ride, which, I’m just saying, could get wild at times.
Next blog topic: Are you overwhelmed by all of the options in toilet paper?
Thanks for reading and keep writing (and reading!)
How a fellow blogger solved the mystery of my lagging Euro sales.
We all need a little help now and again especially at book marketing. I freely admit to being a novice. I literally learn everything the hard way because it just suits my personality. My novel SECRET AGENT OF GOD has only been ‘out on the street’ since the end of January, but since then, I have learned an enormous amount about book marketing ─ mostly the hard way. If you are like me, you know how difficult it is to know where to invest your energy and marketing efforts. There are so many avenues promising to promote your book. I find it yet another mountain I now need to climb.
On the upside, every road I take leads to another discovery, so as with the writing journey and the publishing journey, I remain optimistic about this one.
I go with my old standby of reading what all of you have to say and then finding the consistencies there. Then again, what works for me may not work for someone else. I am extremely fortunate that some successful writers, marketers, tweeters and bloggers have discovered me and for whatever reason, have not given up on me when I certainly would have. I am simply not that techno savvy.
I have put more effort into LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/eileen-slovak/70/7ab/abb/ but could still use some tips on navigating the site. I don’t find it as user-friendly as other sites. I did discover the “The Writers Network” there and found some great new contacts.
I have put more effort into content on my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/authoreileenslovak and I try to learn from those who do the job way better than I do like https://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor and https://www.facebook.com/blakely.bennett.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to stumble into the Facebook of Shah Fazli who interviews people on his site, http://shahsight.blogspot.de/2014/04/eileen-mcguire-slovak.html . We had a date set and I was promoting the event or so I thought. I failed to understand the ‘invite’ button is there for a reason. I get it NOW. It was still a great experience and if you are an author or an artist, I recommend you get on Shah’s calendar and look for other sites like his. Those of you who grew up with Facebook, and to whom social media is second nature, are laughing your butts off at people like me who only joined for the first time in 2009. I had to ask my niece “What’s a status?” Since then, I have come a long way.
I have also found some terrific groups within Facebook, like “Writers Group” and “Review Seekers” among others. Balancing all of it and narrowing it down time wise is the greatest challenge. You have to decide where to focus your efforts.
Despite my raging commitment issues, I have continued to blog, somewhat sporadically but with a measure of consistency. Blogging helps me feel as though I have some control over my destiny and some voice out there in the blog-o-sphere. Through blogging, I have discovered some amazing writers and supporters and it is where I feel the most present in my marketing efforts. It took some time to get to a point where I did not fear it. I still hide a bit. The quality blogs and the effort the writers put into them is so tremendous that I am always amazed when someone follows mine. One such superior blogger was the person who solved this Euro sales dilemma of mine, which I promise I am getting around to explaining.
I have become obsessed with twitter thanks to folks like @seumasgallacher, @DaniseCodekas, @ProofreadJulia, @SinnaptixEdits and so many more.
I have also tested out twitter and Facebook ads. Both seem to bring new followers but do they really add any book sales? It is hard to say. I do like the great reporting that each site offers once the ad has run. Maybe this is just because I am an ex-sales, marketing and inventory management geek. Charts, graphs and data thrill me to no end.
As I was perusing all of this wonderful charted information from twitter, I made a few discoveries. I have a great European following but sad Euro sales. I had a chat with an ad exec from twitter about it and he mentioned that it might be a good idea for me to focus my ads on English-speaking countries since my book is only available in English. I actually laughed aloud at what an idiot I was, marketing my book to whole world when it was only available in English. I still like to tweet the links to the e-book with the idea that kindle converts to other languages but one I must become more aware of my audience.
Now here is where it all comes together…I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a blogger who posts articles about authors. In truth, he found me. I printed out the article requirements over a month ago, and have had it in my “to do” pile on my desk since then. As much as I wanted to do it, I had too many other things to do. That and I get self-conscious talking about myself as the article required. The page finally made it to the top of the pile and I followed all the directions for how to create the post, pictures links, etc. I sent it off certain I had done everything correctly.
The blog is by a UK blogger. I forgot to send the UK link to my book. Go ahead and say it, “Duh!” I really loathe that expression but it is fitting sometimes.
This was when the light bulb finally flicked on. I have completely neglected promoting that UK book link or any of the other links. Sales 101.
So I would like to thank http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/ first for following me, second for not giving up on me while I stumbled around with social media, third, for helping me discover the answer to my UK sales problem and finally, for the post that will run tomorrow on his blog.
The bulk of the work of writing takes place in a solitary room. It happens between a writer and his or her computer. However, even for Indie writers, creating a finished product, producing a physical novel from the ramblings of the mind is not really a solo act.
Editors, proofreader’s, cover designers, interior layout designers, writers groups, beta readers, family and friends all contribute to the process. Although, those who put up with the most, often receive the least amount of gratitude. For example, the family members who endure the last-minute thrown together dinners because the words were flowing or tolerate the mood swings when characters are not cooperating. And the friends who read the early and not so great versions of our work, but still offer honest feedback, while remaining supportive.
So, to my entire support network: Thank you! Here is a glimpse of the Acknowledgement page of “Secret Agent of God”:
There is every possibility, I will have forgotten to thank someone. Please know that this is not intentional. There is also a real possibility, that I might thank someone who will never even read my book. Some of my very best friends don’t follow my blog, or my twitter feed, and do not even have Facebook accounts. That’s OK, they have my back and for that I am forever grateful.
Oh and by the way, the first person to like this blog post on http://www.wordpress.com, will receive a free, signed copy of my new novel. It only seems fitting, since this is where my public writing journey began, to say thank you with a gift.
In 2012, I attended my first writer’s conference. Although, at the time, I had already been writing for years. Walking in that first day, I was certain that at that point in time, I was ready to become a published writer. Turns out, I wasn’t.
An agent was kind enough to review my work, but I was devastated when she said I was likely a year away from being ready. Another year, I thought. I’ll never make it. Alas, after many more hours of writing and after completing multiple rewrites, just shy of two years later, I emerged with a completely different manuscript.
I just published my ‘first’ novel, “Secret Agent of God”.
I say ‘first’, but what I mean is third, because the other two never saw the light of day. My real ‘first’ novel, the one I attempted to write about twenty-five years ago, was a summery love story. From what I can recall, it was along the lines of Snooky’s book about the Jersey Shore, but mine was about a little known island called Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. I think I still have the story in a shoebox somewhere. It was hand-written on an assortment of cocktail napkins and in several beer-stained, spiral notebooks.
My second novel was another lovelorn tale about a single working gal, who was very similar to my former single-self, but in a fictional setting. Said ‘gal’ tried desperately not to fall in love with a very attractive private detective who had just breezed into town. YAWN. Sixty-five thousand words into the manuscript and after (I’m too embarrassed to say how many years), I decided the story was not unique enough to publish.
What’s the moral of this story? Both of these writing exercises helped me to become a better writer and more importantly, they made me realize some things. I don’t really like writing romance unless it’s wrapped in another package like paranormal suspense. Furthermore, if my life were exciting enough to read about, I wouldn’t need to write fiction. Finally, it takes as long as it takes. While deadlines are important, you need patience to become a writer.
In my first published novel, I created a protagonist who is nothing like me, threw her into a crazy situation and viola! I wrote a fast-paced thriller, with a strong female protagonist who is quirky, upbeat and funny despite her bleak circumstances. I almost feel badly about everything I put poor twenty-one-year-old Janice Morrison through, but I’m confident that she can handle it. She is ‘spiritually challenged’ but remarkably resourceful.
The weird thing is, I keep thinking, that someday I’ll be signing books in a mall somewhere and Janice will walk right up to me and say, “Hey, you stole my life!”
…if yeez can HEAR yer writing, yer on the right (sound) track…
…a true story I heard a few years ago concerned a six-year-old girl appearing as a key witness for the defence in a court case in the USA… the prosecuting lawyer sought to demonstrate to the jury that the child was incapable of recognizing fact from fantasy… he asked if the girl had a pet dog, to which she answered ‘yes’… he asked the dog’s name… she said ‘Pongo’… he continued, ‘do you speak to Pongo?’… she replied, ‘yes’… then he said , ‘…and does Pongo talk to you?’… she responded, ‘yes, of course Pongo talks to me’… the lawyer smirked, pleased to have shown the young lady as living in fantasy land… he asked the follow-up question, ‘…and just what does Pongo talk to you about?…’ she floored him and brought the court to a standstill in mirth with her response… ‘well, I don’t know, silly, he talks doggy talk!’… the defence prospered… y’see it’s all about what yeez hear when yeez write, and more importantly, what yer readers hear when they read yer masterpieces… dialogue is universally accepted as a multi-purpose element of any quill-scraper’s craft… it imparts information… it breaks up narrative passage when required… the choice of WURDS in the character dialogue, used properly, tells the reader about mood, attitude, sometimes even intelligence levels of the cast… a sometimes welcome ploy is to use dialogue to break grammatical rules… and what author doesn’t relish that?… anything written within quotation marks is fair play… vernacular, double negatives, ‘plants’ in the plot for later denouement… oh, dialogue ye make the WURLD the scribbler’s oyster… speech also helps to differentiate players in yer plots… even without the ascription of ‘said’WURDS… readers can pick up immediately who’s talking, and to whom… so, next time sumb’dy asks yeez, ‘…do yer characters talk?’ yeez can say, ‘…of course they do, they talk character talk, silly…’ … no more need be said… a-hem…