It’s a slow start in my house, but that’s fine. If anything, it helps my concentration. When all you have in the background is the sound of your fingers on the keyboard, the washing machine doing its’ thing, and the cats playing while you sip your coffee and figure out the day, it’s nice.
Then I get working on a story, or work, and the stereo comes on. Gotta have a soundtrack to my life. LOL.
So, something’s been on my mind for a few weeks now. I want to talk about responsibility today. I’m talking about what your job as an author really is. It goes far beyond writing one or more books. Here’s what the list contains, as I see it.
As an author,I’m responsible for all of this. It’s being able to see what suggestions are valid during the editing process over throwing a fit if one word is changed. It’s being in control of my image as a author, and what information about my life I share with readers. Do you want to be seen as approachable? Likeable? Positive? Then that’s what you have to project everywhere. Online, in person, in emails.
Reputation is everything to a writer. One bad post on FB where you lament how horrid sales were is going to bite you in the backside. Because your image takes a huge hit, and the public remembers. That reader who was following you and thinking about buying your new novel? Yeah, they’re going to remember your snarky moment and pass.
I’ve been fortunate in that a handful of new authors have come to me for advice. That’s a weird feeling, since I’ve only been published for two years! But they do that, because they see me as a success story. Why? Because I’m positive. Always looking forward, not back. Sales were bad last month? Sure, it’s possible. But why dwell on it? Why browbeat the very people who support you (your readers) for not buying more copies?
The last on that list is marketing. Every author, from the unpublished hopeful to J.K. Rowling, has a responsibility to market their books. It is not solely the responsibility of their publisher. That’s like expecting the grocery store cashier to follow you home and unload the bags for you.
Publishers have hundreds if not thousands of titles and authors they have to deal with. It’s not just about you and your book. Sure, your book might be the best one in their House. But until you have the draw – and sales – to rival Stephen King, don’t expect to have things handed to you on a silver platter. You’ve got 500 other writers with the same expectations, hopes, dreams, and faith in their titles around you. Throwing a hissy fit because you think it’s their job to get you reviews instead of doing it yourself is just wrong.
Letting everyone in on a not so secret part of the industry here. On average, it takes five years for an unknown/new author to go from publication/release of their first book to being ‘found’ by their readers.
And, in that time, the two most important things a writer can do to improve those odds is to develop that positive public face, and market the Hades out of their titles. Write, keep writing, write every day. Release more books. Spend ten minutes on FB, twenty on Twitter, write a blog, email newspapers/media outlets, check with local stores and find out if they’ll carry your book.
You simply will not get huge sales out the gate if no one knows your name or that you’re an author. Each and every sale you get for the first five years will be hard fought, and feel like a small victory. But slowly, over time, you’ll start to see the increase each month in sales. Maybe you’ll go from averaging only one or two sales a month to four or five. It’ll be there, though.
Don’t give up. Never surrender. But stay positive and keep marketing. Because that, my friends, will earn you a solid readership base that will make for a lasting career.