What my audience says: Oh? You did? How cool!
What my audience thinks: $ Cha Ching! $
Before there was instant e-book publishing and a plethora of indie authors, there was the agent, the publishing company, and the NY Times Book Review.
The biggest challenge for an author was getting the agent to take him on, but once he did, it was smooth sailing. It was up to the agent to get a publishing company to buy the book, and they would help market it. Eventually the Book Review would write a glowing article, thus creating a bigger buzz, and so of course it would be an instant bestseller...um, ok. No.
I'm not even going to explain further than Step 1: Get an agent to take on future bestselling author.
And the reason is because not many writers even got that far. Prior to 2001, rejection letters were on the Top Ten List of Most Delivered Snail Mail, topped only by letters to Santa and The Easter Bunny.
Then came indie authors, e-books, and affordable print options. Suddenly, it was not only certain that you could call yourself a published author, but you had control of the marketing, the price, and more of your profits. A best seller's dream come true! Huzzah!
That's me...bursting the bubble.
Many successful people, including Bo Muchoki, will agree that the story behind success is hardly ever smooth or wrapped up in a pretty bow.
I'm going to take you through a day in the life of a typical indie author....me.
(DISCLAIMER: While everyone's situation is different, it is the rare few that can afford to stay home and focus on writing and marketing. Do not attack my one sided perspective, for if you read on, you will see that we are all in this together, and that the bottom line is in fact the same bottom line for all. The End.)
Now back to that day...my day:
I am an award winning, independent author.
For those of you who have not been subjected to my shameless self-promotion, my credits include:
Titles from the COFFEE BREAK SERIES:
HAUNTED HOUSE...HAUNTED LIFE
My novella, SUKI
I've got a few titles under my belt. The rest of my day should be easy enough to list right here and then I can move on to churning out more great reads for my fans.
Not so much.
I am a single mother of three terrifically intelligent and involved teens.
Our day begins at 6am. The alarm rings, I begin waking the kidlets, and I make a decision. Am I alert enough to write a bit, or am I still suffering from yesterday and need another half hour of sleep?
In this example, let's pretend that the answer was, "I am ready and raring to write!"
In that case, I'll sneak in about forty-five minutes of writing time, and then a half hour of promoting my previously released works while I'm getting dressed....that is if I don't need to drive someone to early meetings or extra help at school.
By 7:40am, everyone is gone and I'm free. For my day job. I have a few titles out in circulation, but I have ZERO bestsellers, and so a day job is necessary to keep the rugrats and myself afloat. In fact, it takes TWO day jobs and a load of ambition to do that. Hi ho, hi ho....
I am fortunate enough to have a semi-flexible schedule.
So while I am working, I can also take care of the food shopping, teen clothes shopping, and can rearrange my day/week to accommodate doctor, dentist, and miscellaneous appointments that pop up for myself and the kids.
By 3pm, I'm exhausted.
Now my day really begins. I have to fit in two more hours of the day job, make dinner around activities and after school pickups...times THREE...and sometimes that means literally getting in and out of my car six to eight times a night.
On a good day (and by good day I mean MONDAYS ONLY), it's all over by 7pm so we can eat and clean up.
Then I am free to write. It's 8:30pm. I have almost perfected my deaf ears, so the bickering and yelling that goes on during homework and TV time only annoys and distracts me sixty percent of the time.
Just when I really start getting into it, I need to check and see if anyone thought to leave me any hot water. If so, I schedule myself a fifteen minute shower break. By 9:30 or 10pm, I write full on until I fall asleep around 11:30, my keyboard an uncomfortable pillow, and cheek typing a million 333333333333333333's while I snore. (I do not include them in my daily word count)
If I am too fatigued to feel inspired, I will promote rather than write.
Two facts about promotion:
1. I am usually pretty exhausted, so I promote A LOT
2. Self-promoting is cheesy and often yields few to no results
I get many, many messages from all two of my loyal readers looking for more.
They beg for full length novels, a new quirky COFFEE BREAK installment, or at least a blog post, and I really want to appease them. After all, they have stuck with me through the dance recitals and soccer practices, expecting nothing more than something good to read. Also, writing is what I love to do...this should be a win-win situation, but if you were following my day, you have already deduced that it's not that easy.
Many will argue that there are other mechanisms out there for us struggling artists:
1. Build relationships via Twitter, Linked In, Facebook....the list is endless, but I don't even have a relationship with me! Who am I supposed to introduce all of these strangers to?
2. Hire marketers, promoters, etc....and I can afford this "if I can afford Starbucks", I'm told....but I can ONLY AFFORD Starbucks...and I'm not giving THAT up
3. Beg and plead....aaahhh yes...so here I am
Readers, think for a moment. What is the best way to get you to read a book? Reviews are great and I write them from time to time for other authors on Amazon AND this site, but is that really what drives you to read a book?
No. No it's not.
It's the shared experience.
When I love a book, I won't shut up about it. I want everyone to read it, so we can all enjoy it. I am dying to analyze how it made us feel, or share the jokes we laughed at, and if my friends haven't read it, I'm not going to ruin the twists, etc. Instead, I'll bug them till they finally give in...you can all thank me later...and here's how:
I have received dozens of emails, texts, messages and reviews about SUKI. It has touched so many and that makes me very happy, but readers are talking about it with ME. I've already read it. I am happy to have hundreds of book discussions to answer the questions that repeatedly come up, but that would mean involving OTHERS as well.
If you love an author and want him/her to keep pushing out quality books, then take the stress off of us writers and TALK about the titles you love...on Facebook, on Twitter, in person!
I'm not the only author with this problem, and it leaves both the reader and writer frustrated.
Look at what could potentially happen:
1. Sales increase, reducing the need for the artist's attention to be taken from his craft. Little to no day job, less time spent promoting (except for author interviews and book discussions with fans), a less cluttered mind, which leads to better quality and more books.
2. The writer is happy doing what she loves.
3. The readers are happy to have more to great stories from their faves.
The previously mentioned bottom line is this:
Readers, you want the product. Writers want to create the product as freely and as frequently as they can. There are plenty of ideas and peeps to soak up those ideas. We are all in this together, so let's make it happen.
What is the last great book you read and would love to share with others?
CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.
You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/ or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.
CF Winn is the founder of Winning! Publications, a firm specializing in editing and promotion services for authors. Her latest project is the just released Trailer Trash, With a Girl’s Name, a hilarious and heartwarming story of a boy saddled with a girl’s name and forced into a nomadic existence. Order it now: http://www.amazon.com/Trailer-Trash-With-Girls-Name-ebook/dp/B00IX0MIAO