Thursday, August 27, 2015

NEW ESSAY: It is a Self-Publishing Reality. I Have to ASK!

I actually get embarrassed about it.  It makes me self-conscious every time I post.  I tell myself, “Look, people will self-select: some will be interested and some won’t; some will “like” or “plus” to be supportive; some won’t even really see it. Get over it. You aren’t going to make anyone do or buy anything they are not interested in. You have never had that kind of sales skill.”

The truth is, if I didn’t use social media as a means of promoting my work as an author or storyteller, I wouldn’t use it nearly as much.  I would probably have made a choice between Google+ and facebook.  I would still enjoy reconnecting with old friends and with family, as I have.  I opened my first facebook account because I was still working full time, and the company asked people to as part of their nascent social media strategy.  I looked at it, maybe, weekly. 

Once I started self-publishing it became clear I had to learn about social media.  I even had one e-marketing consultant directly say to me, “You need to not be afraid to let people know what you are doing. Let them make choices.” It was with great trepidation that I sent my first “friends and family” email, complete with a disclaimer at the bottom that made it clear that supporting me in my launch as an author was not a condition of friendship. Some weeks, like right after I have released a book, even I am tired of posts about me!

I really should not have worried.  I have gotten lots of moral support and encouragement, and so far no one has sent me a reply saying, “would you stop sending these to me!”  I try to be respectful.  I don’t send them every week or even every month; only around the launch of books or events that folks might be interested in.  I doubt that anyone at Office Depot or the local grocery chain breaks into a sweat or fusses about sending out sales circulars.

I have started my career as an indie-author from less than baseline.  I don’t have a spouse who can support me while I get started.  I don’t have bunches of money stocked up to pay for the kind of things you pay for launching even a modest publication: graphic designers, advertising, paid reviews.  The most recent general wisdom is that it takes $5000 to create and launch a book self-published. I launched my first short story collection having only my computer, a broad variety of different skill sets, and some talent telling stories: I write, I do my own lay out, I build my own covers (art for them has been provided by generous friends on most, but not all occasions), I do my own posting/tweeting/plussing/emailing, I negotiated my own first store placements, it is a one person shop.  I do all this while trying to bring in enough money to keep the phone and internet working, the car in gas and insurance, and still contribute to groceries.

I also do not accept the label “vanity writer” though I suppose on the surface it fits.  By the strictest definition I am one, and so are about 80% of the authors in America. There is nothing vain about my writing, anymore than there is anything glorious about pursuing something you know you were meant to do, with less than what is needed to do it. Very few people make a good living solely on the royalties of their books. Most authors, unless they are highly successful, moonlight at something to keep food on the table. 

Thank the heavens there are so many free tools for self-publishing available! My writing is a business and even I have to remind myself of that. There will be a big party when I reach “baseline” and I have $5000 free to invest on bringing a book to life.

So yes, I have to ask.  As The Publishing Company of Me, it’s not in the budget to have anyone else to make the pitch for me.  There are few things I would rather do than just focus on writing and telling the stories, and do a lot less “lookee” marketing.  That’s not the way it works. I would prefer that my work speak for itself. It does but I do have to actually point it out to people.

I have to allow people to like my posts, support my crowdfunding campaigns, join my new mailing list – one that they elect to join (coming soon!).

I have to send emails without fear.

I have to allow people to select what they will support, and the only way I can do that is to bring my work into their awareness as an option.

I have to post content (i.e. examples of my writing that they can read freely) with enough regularity that I keep momentum rolling and my audience building between releases.

I have to ask people to buy my books.

None of this – not ONE BIT of it –is meant to be “The Me Show.”  This is not about self aggrandizement or ego.

My friend Sue has several stories that always help me regain perspective. The sum of these tales is, “you never know who you will meet and how you will connect to people, so remain open to all possibilities.”  The fact that social media only reaches 5-10 percent of those you are in theory connected to does at least lessen the guilt.

Someday I hope to engender enough success to be able to have the kind of support team that a self-published author is supposed to have.  But for now I will keep on slogging along, doing it the hard way and learning great things every step of the way.  And yes, I will continue to have to ask.

Here is The Please List:
  • Please like and “plus” my posts to help keep them active in the news feeds.
  • Please read my work posted on my website. If you like it, leave a comment or share it with your friends and family.  You never know where readers who like your work can be found.
  • Please buy my books.  If you like them, consider giving them as gifts. Most of them cost less than a really large cup of coffee, and last far beyond the first drink.
  • Please review them on Amazon if you like them.
  • Please subscribe to my Website or follow my Amazon Author Page. It just makes it that much easier to let you know what is going on and available, if you want to know.

Finally, please keep the great encouraging comments and support flowing. Out here in indie-land, sometimes that’s the only solace there is.

Please. Thank You.


PLEASE consider joining my new email list just for notifications about my published works and author events. CLICK HERE to join - it's free!

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