Sunday, August 19, 2012

Unplugged.

I admit it...I love to blog.
Proof being that the last entry I made, a little over two weeks ago, I made with a 101-degree temperature, in bed. 

But I see, over and over again, that there are only 24 hours in the day-- and I'm beginning to think that, for sanity's sake,  I need to start spending an increasing number of those hours  (brace yourself) OFFLINE. Out of the network. Hanging around someplace OTHER than on a social site, job board, or place to "become more visible."

Interestingly enough, things are starting to happen whereby, bit by bit, I may be able to do just that without feeling in crisis.

First, the major cash cow contract I talked about three months ago bit the dust.
Second, one of the other major steady income sources I've had for over a year abruptly sent us all an e-mail telling us to stop working in their present database, that they were going to have to reinvent themselves--and they weren't sure how long that would take, or how successful it would be when they did so. Within a week, they had closed the contract I had with them, with much thanks and well-wishes...but no promises as to when, or if, I would ever get work with them again.
And now, I'm on temporary hiatus with my other steady contract. That hiatus is only until September--but it still represents almost a month off. 

These, however, are not disasters for several reasons.
First off, the "cash cows" I mentioned were not the most rewarding work I've ever done. Steady, yes. Doable, yes. Something I was good at, again, yes.
But was it soul-enriching work? Did it get me "juiced" to work every day?
...not so much.
The third steady client is a touch more interesting, in that I'm doing actual writing rather than proofreading or editing.
But it's still a nice break to have.

What am I left with?
I still have some creative writing to do for one client.
I have coaching to do for another.
And I have two more books to edit, a third I can take on when I want to.
But I don't have those looming, steady gigs waiting for me to plug in whenever I feel like I need to do "piece" work.

So what am I going to do instead? 
Some folks say, "Hey, this is a perfect chance to get that Book Promotion machine running full-tilt.  Appear everywhere. Get your name out. Don't pass up the chance or you'll be left behind!!!!"
However, with all due respect--and at the risk of having 10 million overachiever believers jump all over me--I have one word for that notion.
BUNK.

I've done all kinds of promotion for both books I've had out.
I've solicited reviews.
I've put press releases out.
I've had postcards, bookmarks, "one-sheets," and brochures.
I've plugged the heck out of them on loops, Facebook, even tried Twitter for awhile.
I've taught online workshops to "get my name" in front of people.
I've done interviews for e-zines.
I've even done other freebie work for various sources, as yet another "get your name out" exercise.
What has all this stuff netted me?

I think I may have sold 100 books, total, on From the Ashes.
Maybe.

For Voice of Innocence, my sales so far haven't even approached that.

That's despite having a long-running blog, a bunch of Facebook friends, a regular online presence with Chapter One and Writer's Oasis, and being acknowledged in no fewer than a half dozen other authors' books over the years.
That's despite winning a Golden Heart, years ago, with all that comes with it.
And that's despite being willing to do such humiliating things as participating in an "author's day" at Sam's Club stores...on the same weekend as a new Harry Potter book came out.

In short...it doesn't work, folks.
And I now know why many, many authors do no promotion at ALL. 

Them that is already best-selling authors online will STAY best-selling authors online.
And, once in a while, an author catches lightning in a bottle and magic happens.
But there's a reason it's called "lightning in a bottle." 
It's because it doesn't happen very often.
Certainly it's not a guaranteed, or even necessarily a probable, result of endless promotion.

I've decided that, therefore, I'm not going to waste my time or energy.
I'm not going to waste it on piecemeal work that drains me of soul,
and I'm not going to waste it being online trying to stump for books no one's heard of, when almost no one's heard of ME, either. Even after all that time.
There's just too much competition out there, all screaming, "Buy my book!" or "Get my book for free!" or "Enter my contest!"

Contests, online messages and updates and tweets, friends, "likes," and all that chatter probably did work pretty well when social media sites were younger and fairly uncrowded.
Now? I can't tell you how many author contests I've seen where writers are begging for entrants.
I can't honestly recommend ANYONE go on a blog tour--not because they're not fun, but who has time to read even a small portion of the good ones out there,  much less discover new authors through them?
Above all, I can't begin to tell you what a waste of time Twitter is.
And now, Facebook is increasingly becoming much the same.

We have too much information, promotion, chatter, and "liking" out there.
We have too many people who think they can write, who've put unspeakably bad books out there that they're all too willing to give away--while good books get buried.

We have too many authors trying to get attention, but we're all talking to each other.

I say....enough.
What am I going to do with any time I get freed up?
I'm going to write new books.
I'm going to do my best to sell new books.
Because in the end, despite what the "cloud" wunderkinds will tell you about the "long tail" and "online presence" and "the new publishing world"...
...one truism still stands:
Nothing sells your next book like your previous book...
...and nothing sells your first or second book like your third book.
It's a quantity game now, folks.
Yes, there's already too much of it out there. But much of it will also be by the proverbial "one-hit wonders." Much of it will be specialized book work, aimed at special niches, which will make both the author and those niches happy when the book is out there.
For the rest of us, who are still telling stories...
...for me, at least...
...it's going to be about largely unplugging from social media and replugging into my own writing.
It has to be.

Because I still have books to sell, and I still have a TON of people who haven't heard of me.
It's time I fixed that by the best way out there:
Reach people other than people who are trying to do the same thing I'm doing.
Reach readers.
Writers, too, if they want to read.
But my audience has got to be the 94% of people out there who aren't writing anything, and who don't want to write anything--they just want to read something terrific.

Hello, all of you.
I'd like to introduce myself...

...with a handful of books.
You might like one of them.
I hope you do!
...and don't worry.
I'm writing another. :-)


Thoughts?
Janny
*P.S. Yes, the irony of talking about being "unplugged" by writing about it on a BLOG hasn't escaped me. :-)  I told you I love to blog!

4 comments:

Deb said...

Hear, hear! The savvy folks in this game are saying that is exactly what you need to do -- write that next book. Which you are doing. Which is good.

Nobody knows, or can't (won't?) say what online promo actually results in sales, anyway. I asked my first publisher this question in 2002 and never got an answer. So "meh" to that.

It's more fun to write that next book anyway.

Renee said...

174yorddaYou know, I've been thinking along these lines, too. I've done just about everything you mention in your post, except the blog tour.

I think I'm going to go unplugged for a while, too. I'm just tired of the whole thing. I've been blogging for three years now and I honestly think about 3 people read it. But that's OK.

Thanks for sharing.

Millie Samuelson said...

Great blog! And comments I've heard from numerous other authors. Makes me glad I never did much of the promotion you mention that others told me "I should do"! What I have done is speak a fair amount, and that's resulted in the sale of thousands of my self-published books over the past few years (well over 4000 now). And also glad that I never signed any of the contracts I was offered (I'd have to give up too much, both in say and $$.) I've recently moved to a new town, and don't have any speaking engagements on the horizon. But since God opened the doors to all my previous ones, I'm expecting that to happen in my new location too. Meanwhile, like you, I have another book to complete, and a new revised edition of a fourth book (my first one actually) to release soon. . . Plus lots more settling to do. And HEY, I'm 70, and thankful I don't have to "keep up with the crowd." BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed your "Innocence" book even tho' I rarely read murder mysteries. Your writing style kept me reading. :-)

Janny said...

Thanks, Millie! Be sure to leave a review somewhere when you get a chance. Reviews are gold!

Janny