Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Decisions, Decisions...Maybe I Should Just Flip a Coin!

I grew up on a farm, and I'd love to live on one again--with more animals than people around, no kids hitting my front door with their soccer ball, no noisy neighbors, little traffic. But apartment living is much more practical at this point in my life for a number of reasons--for one, I can't drive. Intractable epilepsy makes having a driver's license impossible, along with a number of other activities most people take for granted. Two, arthritis--not only can I not drive, most days I find walking requires a monumental effort. You should see me trying to get off my couch! A small place, easy to keep up with on the cleaning front, makes much more sense. So while I yearn for the solitude of farm life and a good place to set up a telescope and do some serious stargazing, I settle for noisy neighbors and the frequent wail of police sirens. I'm a little fed up with people coming in while we're not home, though. Collin and I both work at home, so we're here 95% of the time. Can't they come while we're here? The day we came home to find our shoe rack rearranged and a strange device on the wall behind our TV, we bought a security camera so we could see what's going on in here while we're out. (It's cool. We can watch what's happening at home from Collin's phone.)




 

As I grow older, it's also more difficult to read. Cataracts and glaucoma are a nasty combination. Fortunately, my current favorite authors, Janet Evanovich and Jim Butcher, are available through Audible. These days, though, I find myself choosing nonfiction more often than not. Go figure. Ten years ago, it was all fiction all the time--or almost all the time, anyway. I usually steer clear of my publisher's Facebook page these days, as most of the authors there are looking for reviews--you know, "I'll review yours if you review mine." With my vision problems, it would take so long to read just one book for review, I don't volunteer, and I don't ask for reviews. Wouldn't be fair to ask if I can't reciprocate.

I have the same ambivalence as a writer. The ideas are there. The motivation isn't. I can write something funny and it comes as easily as breathing. Mysteries and romance, not so much. What once came effortlessly is now a daily struggle. Eventually, I'll finish something.

Eventually. Maybe.




I hate doing promotion and marketing, though. That's one of the few things I miss about traditional publishing--they did all of that for me. I refuse to do it now, even if it means lower sales. No offense to my fellow authors, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who finds the tsunami of Buy My Book posts on social media annoying. There's promotion, and then there's taking it way too far. Authors are fast replacing proud new parents and grandparents armed with baby photos as the people everyone goes out of their way to avoid. (Have any of you ever seen the episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy and Ricky are at odds with Fred and Ethel over Ricky's nightly showings of his home movies? I don't want people throwing rocks at me.)

I know self-promotion is a necessary evil for authors trying to build their careers, whether they're self, indie or traditionally published (unless, in the latter case, they're lucky enough to be in one of the top spots on a Big Five publisher's list and the recipient of a portion of their publisher's promotional budget). It's not easy. I've known talented authors who would rather give up writing than have to do their own marketing. Some of them actually have.

Whatever happened to word-of-mouth being the best sales tool? I guess I'll find out....




24 comments:

  1. I understand about the marketing and feel your pain. Sometimes I get gung-ho about it but there's too much competition to make a big difference. I still want to write books but I'm not sure if there's a point. A good review now and then keeps me going and I received a nice one this week. Good luck to you by the way, I live in a house and hear sirens all the time, traffic noise etc. too but after the desert we wanted to be near the stores. In the desert we had to drive at least six miles for milk.

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    1. When I first got into the business back in the '80s, everybody wanted to be on the bestseller lists. That hasn't changed for most authors, and I understand that. But I think with the rise in self-publishing and indie publishing, there are so many books--and few people buying them--there's only so much one can do. Some authors get so pushy about it, they turn readers off. Go on Facebook any time of day and see how many notifications you get from just one author. I suspect this is why some get suspended for brief periods of time. People just get enough, and than can have the opposite of the desired effect. Amazon will eventually catch up with all of those reciprocal reviews and delete them--and a lot of good reviews don't always help. Just write a good book and let it find its audience. It's a longer journey these days, but a good book will find its way.

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    2. Oops! That was supposed to be "fewer people buying them." These days, there are many more books available, but fewer readers buying them.

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    3. Thanks Norma. I understood it both ways. Lol Fortunately, I'm a long journey type. Some people want the Concord and I'm happiest on a train.

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  2. Promotion and marketing can be a bane, not just for the author, but also someone following them on social media. I know of one who literally all they do is repeat the same twenty or so links to each of their books and a copy and paste of the same message, every other day.

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    1. I guess that person doesn't realize that if all they ever do on social media is promote their books, soon people will tire of it and stop following them. I no longer like or share posts that are just endless book promos. They go too far, and it's boring.

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    2. Norma, I remember there was someone about a year or so ago (award winning author, et all), and suddenly I don't ever see her posts any more (thank goodness!) Not sure what happened to her, but maybe she gave up too.

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    3. Several did. Most of the authors I knew starting out either got out completely or they reissued their backlists and let it go at that. My problem is that who I was as a writer then is not who I am now. Recently, one of my books got a very short, negative review on Amazon. It made me laugh because, had I written that book now, the element that was criticized wouldn't even be there. Because I've evolved creatively, I've often questioned my decision to reissue the old stuff.

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    4. I question my sanity from time to time as well. But poo, I don't really care any more. We do evolve creatively, but we should. It's just a matter of choice. I have been rewriting an old manuscript for 20 years (on and off), and now I think it's almost ready for submission at some point this year or next.

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  3. I don't like self-promoting, mainly because so many people are doing it, how would anyone choose my books over theirs. I don't know how they have time to go to the bathroom, really!
    I don't suppose you've thought of moving to a smaller town? I don't know how that would work. I know my husband and I couldn't stand living in town or renting. Watching the deer stroll through our yard (and other critters), is what makes this job at the park worth while.
    Hope you solve the mystery of who's been in your apartment doing stuff. Uh, don't they have to tell you in advance?? I'd be changing the locks!

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    1. I wish I could still live in a rural area!

      I don't mind if maintenance comes in to make a repair or the exterminator makes his usual house call--we know in advance. I didn't like this incident because there was no notice they'd be coming.

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  4. Norma, I'm with you about marketing and self-promo. So much competition, and for the time you put into it, you may not even get any sales.

    Didn't know you grew up on a farm. I imagine there was lots of peace and quiet. So different from the city.

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    1. It's easier to get published now than it was when I was starting out. I knew several authors who became very successful, like Sandra Brown, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Christiane Heggan and Meryl Sawyer--but I knew many, many more who, even with their publishers' support, didn't.

      I loved growing up on a farm. My playmates were dogs, horses, chickens, pigs and cows!

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  5. Very sorry about your eyes. Very cool that you grew up on a farm. Sounds heavenly.

    Did you ever go see Janet Evanovich in person? I went with a friend once and boy, did Evanovich put on a great show. She also stayed to sign alllll the books.

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    1. Sadly, I've never met her. I know an editor who knew her, and several authors who've met her. They all say she's delightful.

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    2. I didn't stand online for the autograph but my friend did. She had a reading of her book (I'm a Jersey girl), and it was held in a ball room, though no one was dressed up. Anyway, the characters (the people in real life she took inspiration from I think they were), were there in wigs and fun reading on stage.

      I didn't write that genre or even read that genre but my friend did and took me. I had a blast. I mean really, that woman knows what she's doing.

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    3. She does indeed! She started out writing romance but decided it wasn't a good fit. She's very savvy about the business.

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    4. Savvy for sure and her daughter is a big help too, helping her with her website and promotions. Or, at least that used to be the case, I dunno about these days.

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  6. I hope your security camera catches the skulker(s). Someone messing with your shoe rack is just creepy.

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    1. We think fiberoptic internet is being installed throughout the complex, but were not notified. That's what annoys us. They had to move our TV cabinet (and the shoe rack) to install that thing on the wall.

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  7. I so understand how you feel I still want to so much but just can not.
    Wish you could move somewhere better. I love looking out my window and seeing all my critters.
    I like you, I like animals much better than people. Everyone is so rude and nasty now, I really do not belong in this era.

    Take care I think of you and Collin all the time.
    cheers, parsnip

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  8. We think of you too, Gayle. You live in paradise. I would love to have all of those critters outside our windows!

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  9. I can't understand why it would be necessary for someone to come into your flat when you guys aren't there, that would freak me out. Norma are you not eligible for cataract removal surgery? It really is the best thing ever.. because they insert a lens in your eye when removing the cataract it really is like having your eyesight back.

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