I don’t do resolutions. I say that every year, and every year it remains true. January 1 remains a culturally potent date, however, so I do indulge in one aspect of the calendar celebration. I start something new.
This year? The few regular readers of this blog already know. I’ve been practicing and writing about practicing.
My big change will be saying buh-bye to the online circus. Not entirely. I’ll maintain my Twitter feed of interesting tidbits, links, and graphics, and I’ll network through Facebook as much as the algorithms allow. But I won’t spend time in either place. I can’t afford wasting energy better applied elsewhere.
I’m not becoming a hermit. I’m talking about all the indie-author standard “build up interest and grow your audience” strategies, with the cover and release day teases, the brand marketing, the wooing of readers with regular work-in-progress content, and OMG the back scratching, review swapping, support group blog/party/interview/review circuit. That’s what’s falling by the wayside.
Sure, growth is slow and the market crowded, but there’s slow, and there’s stagnant. I’ve put in the time and know the ropes, and the results are irrefutable. People used to other genres and styles are not convinced to purchase my work by a mention on another author’s blog, nor are they impressed by graphics, intriguing quotations, or author interviews. My books will never sell because the content will suck in readers or because people like me.
Been there, done all that, can’t point to a single sale. (Yes, bumps from a successful sales tactic are visible and timely.) I’m done. I’m even expanding my existing “no review swaps” rule to ignoring most of the indie book offerings I see. Is that elitist? Maybe. I’m comfortable with the label. I not going to set a lower bar for others than I set for my own words.
Developing an online following demanded vast amounts of time and energy, and the demands escalate endlessly. In business terms, it’s been a losing strategy for me. In blunter ones, I am not the Giving Tree. Helping others by damaging myself is not healthy. So I’m stopping.
I did need to reach objective readers to convince myself I wasn’t deluded about my writing’s quality. Mission accomplished. Beyond that, it’s an inescapable truth that I’m publishing llamas in a market full of adorable kittens and puppies.
About the only selling tool that seems to work for my books is literally, physically shoving my writing under peoples’ nose and saying, “This is great stuff. It’s like nothing else out there. Can you handle it?” (In a manner of speaking. I’m rather more likable in person, I swear.)
So I’m going to spend time on what does work.
I’ll run promos and pay for advertising online, I’ll write, I’ll publish, I’ll post the news. Then I’ll move on. I will socialize online with those who share my interests beyond writing. I will also be (slightly) less of a real-world hermit and push things in person. That means learning proper formatting so I have dead-tree editions of everything in print to wave at people. Bookmarks and dazzling swag only go so far.
Elsewise, I will blog and post about what I like (or hate) about life, books, viewing, and yes, writing. Me, me, me, me, ME. I know. Could I be any more self-absorbed? Maybe so. P’raps I will take it as a challenge.
Disentangling myself from the sticky ties of online interaction is not easy. That’s why I’ve been practicing. I’m almost two weeks into a new routine that keeps me off-line more than on, and it still feels strange. The itch to look outward rather than inward remains strong, interfering with my ability to concentrate on the small, quiet needs of my own soul.
Today is the end of the old calendar. My new thing, unlearning two years’s worth of bad habits supported by insidious social programing, is only just begun.
I’m reacquainting myself with myself this year. Here’s hoping I like the results.