Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My 6-Month Bookaversary: A Reality Check


Today is my six month bookaversary. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is slightly younger than the crying infant who is laying beside me as I type this post. (She’s peeved I’m typing -- I don’t think she likes the clickety clack of the keyboard.) Leandra had asked me if I wanted to talk about what it’s like being a newly pubbed author and I said, yes! I’m very appreciative when authors are transparent. Fair warning though-- this post details my experience. I have no idea what it’s like to be published by a large press with a large marketing budget. Your miles may vary.

First, GG&G has been out in the wild for six months and I’m pretty sure every family member, friend, friend of friend, mother-in-law of friend, cousin’s friend has read the book. Seriously, I am truly blessed. It’s awesome, but I’ve exhausted that group of people-who-know-me. I kinda need some strangers to read it. Right now, my sales have trickled down to a few a month, if I’m lucky. That’s right. A few a month. And part of me thinks it’s my mother buying extra copies.

It is crazy hard to sell a book and gain visibility, especially if you’re pubbed by a small press like me (a fabulous small press, but small nonetheless). My book cannot be found in Barnes and Nobles brick and mortar stores (right now, I’m selling the paperbacks at the local gym where my son takes swim lessons) nor is it likely to get reviewed by a major trade publication. I don’t think I’ve sold one copy on Barnes and Noble in the last month. My Amazon author rank is in the 700,000s. According to Goodreads, no one is reading it. My only hope for some momentum is to get a Book Bub ad which is very hard to come by, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Getting a Book Bub ad is like winning the lottery.

For the last six months, I’ve been hustling trying to get book reviews. I’ve implored anyone who has read the book to review it on Goodreads and Amazon and I’ve been contacting bloggers. For every 20 review requests I send out, I’m lucky if I get one acceptance. It’s just how it is.

For awhile, I was constantly checking Twitter to see if anyone had mentioned my book in a tweet (rarely) or Googling the title to see if someone had written a review and I missed it (nope). I’ve stopped doing that.

Truthfully, I am not shocked or surprised by how things are going. I have written only one book and I am utterly unknown. I’m just glad to see my name on that beautiful cover. The only thing I can do right now to help my writing career is write, which I do, painstakingly slow. I’m currently working on a novella spin-off to GG&G. I’m half-way through a horrendous first draft of another YA mystery and I’m outlining a few other projects.

The last six months have been fun. It feels crazy good when someone says they read my book and loved it. Or that they recommended it to their friend. I even had a fan at my most recent book talk at the library. Now, that was awesome. My book can be found in five NJ public libraries. Granted, two libraries received donations from my mom and brother, but still...that’s something. Maybe someday, I’ll hit the lotto and become a literary sensation, but for now, I’m right where I figured I’d be.

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49 comments:

  1. I feel your pain. I've been considering taking my book off the shelves so I can switch from CreateSpace to Ingram Spark. I don't think it'd hurt me much. :) Still, it is painful to know that, despite your (my) efforts, you're (I'm) still unknown.

    At least I know about you! I even have a guitar charm that reminds me of your book every time I see it. :)

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    1. Thanks, Loni. Almost all writers don't go into writing thinking they're going to make money, but if they only knew how little money you make, they'd be shocked. Especially as an indie or a small press author.

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    2. I'd be grateful for anyone to read my book. Anyone. I'm still waiting on a fan email. That would be cool.

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  2. Oh man, some of that sounds exhausting! (also, i'm pretty lazy so take my words with a grain of salt). 5 libraries, though, is awesome! Even if two were donations, who cares? It's still a possible audience.
    Have you done any school or library visits or anything like that?

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    1. I'm doing a library visit in mid December, but I'm doing a workshop for adults. It's going to be called, "You wrote a book, now what?" and it will be an even starker reality check. Complete with power point. I have 3 kids and no sitter so to do a school event requires my husband take off work. Also, I'm kinda scared to do one.

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  3. This whole "publishing" thing is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Sometimes I ask myself if I'd still have written that first book if I knew then what I know now. I never really have an answer for myself. But I keep writing, so I guess that is my answer, in a way.

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    1. I just keep writing. If nothing else, it's for me.

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  4. Thanks for the grunge expose on what it's really like. I dig the cover and the title. I hope things pick up for you.

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  5. I love this post. so honest and true. Really, all we can do is write and hope, lather rinse repeat. This business is KILLER. Incredible highs that come in these little random spurts and months and months of lows. I had no idea what I was in for. When I first learned just how much rejection was a part of it I realized it's as tough as breaking into acting or modeling.

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    1. Writers are experts at being rejected, are we not?

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  6. And I'm in a no pressure situation. It's not like I have the pressure of a hefty advance to pay back or anything. For that, I'm lucky. I think I'd be a bit of a wreck if I was letting down an agent, my publisher etc because I didn't meet sales expectations.

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  7. I can understand your distress. I've heard it takes years sometimes to build momentum for books. Here's hoping that's true for yours!!!!

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    1. You know, that could read I want you to wait years before achieving the success you desire. I meant I hope you acquire it, however long it takes!

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    2. Lol, I took it the way you meant it. =)

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  8. What a painfully honest post. I hope GGG will continue to sell steadily over the next few years.
    All the best, V.

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  9. Good news: it's not your mom or you wouldn't see spikes on your Amazon rating. If you keep ordering books from the same ISP, Amazon doesn't count them towards your sales ratings. I mean, you still get the money, but it's Amazon's way of keeping people from just ordering 100,000 copies themselves to look like an insta-bestseller.

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    1. And there goes my insta-bestseller plan... ;)

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    2. I have no idea how Amazon works. Algorithms, keywords, ranking. I need a course in it.

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  10. Leandra - Congratulations on your publishing credited! It's so exciting. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting.

    Kimberly - Thank you for being honest in this post. Many authors don't tell you how hard it is to get your first book noticed. I most certainly didn't know and will adjust my own expectations. I really hope sales pick up for you.

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  11. I really enjoyed this post, Kimberly. I think it seems like if we just get published, everything will be sunshine and rainbows. Thank you for being so honest! I've had a couple of friends publish with small presses and have heard similar stories. Hang in there! You have a great hook and a great cover! Sometimes it takes a while for books to take off.

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    1. Small presses rock, they do, but it's hard to get noticed. Especially in YA because there's so much good YA. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Kimberly, hang in there. I'm with a small publisher and my first book performed the same as yours - until it had been out almost a year, when it suddenly shot up into the Amazon Best Sellers. Just keep promoting, keep blogging, keep being active. It will happen. And keep writing books.

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  13. Happy book birthday! I say hang in there too - I keep hearing once you have a couple of books out, then it helps with sales and name recognition and all that. (I'm hoping that's true!) :)

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  14. It's all a process. That's what I've learned. We have to enjoy the journey.

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  15. Great post, Kimberly! I read it, nodding my head the whole way through (especially about book bub--good grief, what I wouldn't give to pay them to promote me, lol!). I just put out my fourth novel and that really did help bump up my exposure, but there are days when I really wish I was with a big house who had the ability to get my name out there more. But, at least I get to write, which is where the fun is anyhow!

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    1. Yes! Book Bub is like winning the lottery. In the meantime, I just need to keep writing.

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  16. My book's been out exactly a year today, and my experience has been exactly like yours. Yes, if you're unknown and not a romance writer, things are very hard. I probably have enough reviews to get BookBub, but it's too expensive. You just have to keep plugging away, do a little marketing, and start on a new project. Good luck! :)

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I agree. My publisher will foot the bill for BB but I need to be accepted. Here's hoping.

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  17. But if five libraries have your book, and two were donations from your family, then...three weren't!


    I totally get your frustrations here (blended in with, as other comments have said, the joy of the process itself, which shouldn't be discounted). I feel the same way about my own writing often. What I tell myself is that while the big, splashy, viral things are the only ones (out of any category - plane crashes, say, vs. safe plane flights) most people see, there are many, many, many that go unnoticed. So while I ask myself "Why hasn't my writing gone viral?" I also have to tell myself that, statistically speaking, it isn't likely to - just because of the sheer volume of other things it's competing against for readers' attention.

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    1. Yes, that's why it's important to keep publishing. The more books available, the better I'll do in the long run.

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  18. I was starting to feel sorry until I looked you up on Amazon and saw all those reviews. You're doing great for only six months into the game. :) Nice post and best wishes for much success!

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    1. Aw, thanks. Yes, I've gotten many reviews -- for that I'm lucky.

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  19. Leandra, bless you for getting Kimberly to open up about her current experience.

    And Kimberly, thank you so much for sharing. I too had recently passed my six month anniversary, releasing my first book Violet Storm. Every little effort now seems to reach even fewer newer people. I think it's opportunities like blog hopping, and offering unique incentives are a great start. But it takes so much work. I can't tell you how much I needed to read your post today. :)

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  20. What an eye-catching cover! It's a tough business, but the main thing is to keep moving onward and not giving up.

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  21. Happy six month blogaversary! It really is a tough business. Just keep writing and promoting. That's all any of us can do. All of us have had a downward turn with sales this year. The market will eventually pick up again. We simply must wait it out.

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  22. I nodded my head reading all of this. We're in the same boat. I'm submitting to contests, doing giveaways, always up for an interview or guest post...whatever it takes to get the attention of the next reader and reviewer.

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