Life notes & book numbers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Post Daylights Saving Monday is Monday-est Monday of the Year.

Admitting I cannot brain is hard, but I am beating back the gnawing be-productive weasels with mentally forgiving tasks. So far, so good. Fresh foods arrived before the storm & have been stowed away, three loads of laundry are done, and two more loads are sorted and ready. Pantry dinner is prepped, sheets are changed, bills paid, and correspondence sorted out.

Still to do: do my daily online promotion for Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, and enjoying some downtime with Ghost Town. Yes, the writing time is a reward, not a task. It’s a mindset I’m trying to nurture.

BUT FIRST! A “THANK YOU!” shoutout to everyone whose pre-orders have put Sharp Edge within 3 spots of first place in my personal ranking (not comparing to others because that would be depressing.) Posting promotions for it online is hard work that uses up writing brainspace. It’s satisfying when effortful cause leads to desired effect.

Oh! And speaking of the pre-orders, let me share some numbers. I like it when authors are transparent about such things. Disclaimers ahead of time: everyone’s experience is different. I don’t have a large audience. My writing seems to attract devoted fans, in that if you like any one of my books, you end up hunting down and enjoying all of them, but you folx are still an elite cadre, not a market-swaying population segment.

It’s a bigger audience than I ever thought to have when I started this gig, I admit. My flavor of impostor syndrome means I suspect innocent people of pity purchases (sorry) but this time I’m pretty confident most of these orders are going to people who want to read the book, not just support a friend by buying something they would never read on its own merits in a million years. But I digress. (It wouldn’t be a post by me if I didn’t. At least you know I’m not a pod person!)

The raw numbers:
Rough Passages, current pre-order champion, 32 pre-orders.
Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, 29 pre-orders as of today. With one week left to go.

And now, some data analysis & background because that makes this like a science report, and we all know those are FUN, right?

I did a massive promotional push for Rough Passages‘ release back in 2017. At the time I was active in a lot of Facebook groups and the general “writing community” online as part of my “Learning to Be An Independent Author” phase. I told all the people in all the groups where I was active about the book & why it was wonderful. I posted notes and snippets and pictures in my own online spaces. I told people IRL and asked for online support. I set the introductory pre-order price at a low-risk investment of $0.99. I did multiple reminders per day for weeks.

I was thrilled to get 32 pre-orders. It’s peanuts to authors who make a living from wordcraft, but it was twice the orders I’d gotten for a previous, similar release. Return On Investment was great if I only looked at the number.

ROI was abysmal when I added in personal cost. Constant participation in multiple book-related communities online is grueling. The #writingcommunity hashtag is hugely popular, and in the indie author community, success is linked to maintaining a constant, consistent, personal presence online.

I don’t care how excited and exuberant you are, how PROUD you are of your book, performing in public is work, and every promotional post is a singular little performance. Not to mention the time and emotional energy involved in conversating online daily to stay active in multiple groups. Plus I hate seeing the same post a dozen times a day no matter what it is, so incessant posting about Only My Book will never not generate guilt.

Shortly after Rough Passages came out, I realized I couldn’t survive on gruel. The way I promoted its release is still touted far and wide by commercially-successful indie authors & some publishers as “The Way,” but it can’t be my way. I’m comfortable bragging on my writing, because yes, it’s great, but making professional interaction my constant focus was like hitting myself with a stick while fasting. It left me perpetually weak and bruised. Spec-fic is a tiny niche in the bookworld. It’s a loud, boisterous niche full of bestsellers, but I gotta be realistic: quiet, prosy, slow-burn stories like mine are unlikely to ever appeal to the majority market, no matter how much I promoted it to the wider publishing world.

I detached myself from ALL the Facebook groups, writing, science fiction, and all, and unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter who never interacted with me anyway. The struggle to stay out of the tempting flow is real, but I am committed to it. These days I lurk on the fringes of the online indie-author writing community so I can spot trends and catch news, but I’m only in a handful of groups, and I don’t bother with most Twitter or Instagram hashtags.

That brings us to Sharp Edge’s number. 29.

This pre-release promotion has been low-key and very much in my own small spaces, and I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time writing the next book (Ghost Town! 85% drafted!) than being online talking about Sharp Edge. I post daily-ish on my spaces, have sent two reminders to my newsletter base, and shared posts to a couple of groups where I was invited to do so. I’m not reeling.

And yet, here I am with nearly the same result. That is more than thrilling. That’s happy-dance celebration worthy.

Not that it’s been easy! Since I am stubborn and will not pay Facebook for advertising boosts on post, I have to announce the same thing again & again to reach anyone when the “pay us to talk about yourself” FB algorithms are working hard against me. It’s still tiring and time consuming. But hey, I’m doing much less of it, and no GUILT!

The email newsletter is easier. I’m actually enjoying sending news & stuff to folx who’ve subscribed to it, because you all volunteered to get news from me! That idea is HIGHLY affirming, to be honest. Heartwarming. Truly.

In conclusion, once again, thank you, THANK YOU, to all you wonderful people who will be welcoming my new book baby into your homes & your hearts. I am deeply grateful.

Some final points.
If you haven’t signed up for my fancy occasional email newsletter yet, you can do that right here: https://mailchi.mp/afe76c32cbce/freestory2021
If you haven’t pre-ordered The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday like all the cool kids have, you can get to its sales pages from here: https://linktr.ee/SharpEdge
If you haven’t read Rough Passages yet and can’t imagine starting Sharp Edge until you do, it’s on sale for $0.99 cents in ebook again, find a seller here: https://books2read.com/rough-passages

That’s all until later, except here’s another cat pic from Pexels, because it’s cute.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Getting to that *next* novel

A friend’s social media post recently observed that the abundance of writing advice online (and at convention panels, and in writing workshops) focuses on New Writers. Writers who are working on their first book. Writers wholly unfamiliar with publishing. There isn’t much for writers who are working on their third book, or their eighth.

And the question was posed: what advice would you (where you means writers of multiple books) offer to writers who have gotten beyond their first. The thoughts I had were bigger than a comment, so they’re here!

First, why is this so? Welp. My cynical take: the money is in pushing products & resources to those who haven’t made any personal connections or located professional mentors or tracked down their own resources. Less-cynical me is willing to acknowledge that there are a lot more New Writers than ones who are typing away at book 4 or 5. And most writers who’ve stuck it out that long have collected colleagues and bookmarked resources and developed a lot of tricks they like.

And my answer to the questiion was this: my words of wisdom to writers seeking guidance wouldn’t change between book 1 and book 8.

  • There is no One True Way To Write Your Book
  • There is no One True Path to successfully publishing a book.
  • There is no One True Definition Of Success

I can break down that a bit more, though, and right now that feels like a good reflection post to share while I await the release of book 8 and work on book 1 in a new series.

We now interrupt this post for an advertisement! Do you love fantastic fiction? Do you enjoy stories full of emotional depth, high-stakes conflict, and mysterious superpowers? You need to pre-order your copy of The Sharp Edge of Yesterday today.
B&N link
AMAZON link
–> or order it by name from your friendly local independent bookstore!
–> or recommend a purchase to your local public library!

Ahem. Back to writing advice for writers who’ve already written that First Book all the Internet Advice Experts focus on.

One. The tricks you taught yourself to remain motived through writing FirstBookEver won’t necessarily help you get through Book 2. Or book 5. Motivation is a fickle thing, and the creation of art is an ever-changing pursuit of an ever-changing goal.

Two. There is no International Agency of Writer Certification. No one will ever send you an official Writer Diploma, not when you graduate from writing to having a book published, not after three books, not after seventeen thousand short story sales. Once your words have been read by an audience–even if that audience is you and you alone–you are a writer. All other levels of accreditation, legitimacy, and worldly success are just additional layers. And remember–we inhabit a late-stage capitalist hellscape. It’s a tough fight to define legitimacy and professionalism in non-financial terms, but it’s a battle worth fighting. Professional writing associations set their membership bars based on economics, period.

Two point five. Success isn’t a set of moving goal posts. That’s bullshit. Every damned goal achieved is success. Period. Setting new goals after achieving a goal is one form of growth. So is shifting focus and working on something else. Which brings us to the next point.

Three. You are allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to stop writing a first book or a fifth one. You’re allowed to stop writing a series. You’re allowed to stop writing at all–for a day, for a month, for years, forever. You’re allowed to turn your back on publishing after querying one book, or self-publishing three, or selling seventeen thousand short stories to magazines. You’re still a writer even you never pursue publication at all & only write in your private notebooks or on fanfic sites, or in letters to your besties. But that’s a different post.)
The point is, you decide what to write, how to write it, when to write it, and what to do with it when you’re done. YOU AND ONLY YOU.

(CAVEAT: the above paragraph is true unless you have signed a contract obligating you to write a given thing within a given time frame for financial remuneration. I mean, that’s a legal commitment.)

Four. The feeling that the next piece of writing isn’t “good enough” won’t ever go away. Wrestling with insecurity is a popular hobby for many creatives. Impostor syndrome is a popular term with gigantic amounts of advice written on overcoming it, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. The classic form is fear of being exposed as a fraud–feeling like you’ll be kicked out of the cool-kids club as soon as people realize you don’t belong. I rarely feel like that. Okay, never. I just don’t feel like a fraud, ever. But! I often feel un-respected in the company of experienced, talented, and business-focused professionals. That’s a VERY different kind of insecurity, but it’s rooted in the same fear of not-good-enough. (It’s an insecurity rooted in and fueled by the pro-club’s finance-focused membership requirements, but that’s another different post.) My defiant answer, even when my on insecurity whispers “not-goodenough” is this: “FFS, WHAT DOES GOOD ENOUGH EVEN MEAN? Good enough for whom?”

Five: You should never expect the publishing landscape for the next book to look the way it did for the last one. Publishing is still in a state of massive flux fifteen (or so) years after electronic self-publishing began disrupting it. Marketing strategies and social media change even faster. One year, email newsletters are The Route To Commercial Success. The next year, it’s Twitter followers. The year after that, it’s all about Bookstagram. The one thing that never changes: everything changes.

Six: Everything except writing the next book is a distraction from writing the next book. BUT ALSO. Some non-writing distractions are IMPORTANT, and some will remind you why you’re putting all the effort into writing that next book. Never underestimate the power of connecting with other people who get excited about the worlds and people you write.

I think that’s all the rambling thoughts I have for now. Remember, there’s a new book for you waiting for you to pre-order it right now! Moms with superpowers, potential apocalypse, and gardening tips!

Here are those links for Sharp Edge again:
B&N link
AMAZON link
–> or order it by name from your friendly local independent bookstore
–> or recommend a purchase to your local public library

Until later!

New Release Blues

My new superpowers book, Rough Passages, has been available for sale in paperback for several days now. Just an FYI.
 
I realize that announcement lacks the proper new-release pep, but I am fresh out of enthusiasm for touting books people go out of their way to ignore. (OMG THE EXCUSES. FRIENDS, PLS STOP WITH THE EXPLAINING WHY YOU “HAVEN’T READ THEM YET.) 
Promotion makes me feel more like Gus from the Simpsons than an author with a social media circle packed with readers waiting to discover me. 
 
So I won’t be touting the imminent ebook release or asking for reviews. It’s there. I’ve posted tons of links barely anyone clicks. It’s out. I’m done.
I have to cut the cord at some point. Showcasing things no one wants is too painful. I can’t keep clinging to hope my worlds and characters will ever appeal to anyone who hasn’t found them already.