Life before publishing used to be so simple: Work my day job, play with my son, spend time with my wife, save a little time for other stuff, and WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE. Sure, it was a struggle sometimes, but I made it work, and here I am a month after publishing...and my life is upside down. The little stuff I never really had time for has dropped away completely, and I find myself struggling to do the other things.
So, after one month of being published, here's what I know:
My Writing Isn't Enough
I always imagined once I wrote my book, polished it and perfected it, submitted it and had it picked up by a publisher, my work alone would sell my book. Like wild fire my stories would spread from person to person, magically selling themselves while I crank out the next book, but a harsh truth awaited me.
I wrote my stories to share with the world, but guess what, the world doesn't hear or see my story in the mass of others out there. I'm a nobody, just one among thousands of authors who fight daily for a chance to be seen. It sounds harsh to write this out, but it's a fact of the publishing industry today. With so many authors out there, it take hard work to stand out in the crowd.
Marketing Is My New Job
For the first couple years of college, I studied graphic design and advertising because I thought it's what I wanted to do. When I realized how badly I wanted to be an author, I changed my major and focused on writing instead. Part of me wishes I'd stuck it out with advertising because it would help me out nicely in my new career as "Book Marketer".
As I mentioned above, books don't sell themselves, and unfortunately, they also don't sell based on the writing itself. That leaves me to tell people how good my writing is, to entice them to read it, and to get them interested in what I write about. I do this by way of ads that I design and test myself, by making blog and Facebook posts, and by interacting in different online communities. Because my book is in eBook form only at the moment, I'm focusing my efforts online, but I'm prepared for marketing once my book goes to print.
I don't mind marketing in itself, it's the amount of time it takes to do it. Not only do I have to find time to write, but I have to find time to design ads, post them, and interact across the interwebs with new readers and potential readers alike.
Being A Career Author Requires Non-Writing Work
If I have any chance of being recognized as a serious author, I cannot stand back and let my book do nothing, hoping for it to be recognized by "someone important". Even though I'm struggling to find time to write, I cannot let marketing fall to the wayside. It feels to me that I'm giving up writing for selling books, but my editor, S.R. Howen, recently reminded me the truth of how things stand:
Books don't sell themselves, too many new writers and authors feel that their career is art, said with a glass of wine in one hand and a vision of a wing chair in front of a fireplace dancing in their head. Art is something you do for yourself, and maybe a few friends, but making a career out of it, earning a check and fame, if you want to make a living out of it, you have to look at it as a job. And part of the job is to market. Good writing sells, but not if no one ever hears about it. Your book is a new product, and if someone wants to sell a new product they need to let the potential buyers know it's out there to buy.
Wise words, and they've stuck in my head, a constant reminder that even if it feels wrong, I'm still headed down the right path.
Be Prepared For Anything
When I first started down the road to publishing, beginning with query letters, I wasn't prepared for the challenge ahead. After two years and finally getting a publisher, I was caught with my pants down again when marketing became a mainstay.
One rule I'll remind myself of daily is the same rule I learned in the Boyscouts...Be prepared. I've only been hardcore into marketing for a month now, and I can only imagine what the future will bring. Our online world changes every day, bringing new and exciting ways to connect with people. As a new author seeking recognition in the sea of new authors, I'll need to be prepared for change when it comes.