The Cost of Self-Promotion

Dear Reader,

Once again I reflect upon the idea of self-promotion, something which leaves a dour taste in my mouth and flags my spirit, making it difficult for me to be creative and write. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I was cutting out social networking for a while, which in essence meant I was cutting out all marketing (other than my AuthorBuzz subscription through fReado).

I have been concerned about my sales. Everyone has been bragging about their sales, which eclipse mine to the point of it no longer being depressing, but laughable. I read the blog of Zoe Winters, paranormal romance author, regularly and am inspired and jealous of her success.

Here’s the thing: I’m amazed and more than a little frightened by how much Zoe does. The promotions, contests, videos, book trailers, blog tours… So you have no idea how relieved I was when she wrote her post “No Shortcut to Awesome.” The content of the post was a comparison between her two writing names, Zoe and her pseudonym. Zoe goes crazy (literally) over promotion. Her pseudonym focuses on her writing; other than posting on social networks and in her blog that she’s released something new, she doesn’t go overboard.

Get this: they are making the same amount of sales, roughly. Wait. What?!

Man oh man, did I need to hear that. Yes, it is good to be available and connected to readers. No, it doesn’t help to freak about numbers in any format: Twitter followers, Goodreads friends, Facebook friends, Facebook fan page likes, Kindle sales, NOOK sales, blog subscribers, etc.

I was watching all those numbers. And then some. I don’t even like numbers. I hate numbers. Numbers have, on occasion, made me break out into a cold sweat because they make me nervous. Which makes it even more amazing that I graduated with an engineering degree. Give me variables any day.

Watching Zoe’s process and seeing the similarities in my own is giving me the permission to do what I want to do, which is write. My friends and family keep reminding me that I do this because I love it, not because it’s my day job. I have a day job to support my writing. I don’t have to kill myself to make my writing a day job in itself. The goal of self-publishing, for me, is for my writing to be a self-sustaining hobby.

As long as I keep that in mind and stop peeking over the shoulders of other indie authors, I think I will regain my sanity and sense of well-being. I also bought a sun therapy lamp last week for work to combat my seasonal affective disorder. Both items, I’m sure, will be beneficial in the long run. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write, or not write, whichever feels right at the time.

All the best,

Belinda

12 thoughts on “The Cost of Self-Promotion

  1. Thanks, Belinda! And on Amazon, my pen name outsells Zoe, and it's by a wide margin when you consider that name only has two titles out. So yeah… definitely don't kill yourself over the marketing side. What you really need is a few "influencers" to read your book and start the recommendations-machine rolling.

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    1. It seems to me as though the reason why authors market is because they are trying to find those influencers… trying to find the right target audiences in the hopes that the influencers are in the group we're targeting.

      No luck so far, it seems, but again, if I concentrate on my writing and remember that I'm not trying to make this my full-time gig, so I shouldn't worry as if I am.

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      1. You might try focusing on getting review copies to smaller book bloggers, those trying to build an audience and following. It can give you an "in" and if they like it, they have friends who are also book bloggers. And it can go from there.

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  2. wow. did i need to hear this today. i'm tempted to look at my indie author friends' sales and compare. but i do this because i love to write, not because i want to sell. thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Glad it helped, Michelle! I've needed reminding lately, that's for sure. That's why it's good to blog… you get to find out that you're not the only one feeling that way!

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  3. There is a small number of indies who are taking off, and I think the hype of that is making it hard for a lot of us to keep our eyes on our own papers–I've been seeing a lot of thoughts like these lately. We're putting some undue stress on ourselves as though we're missing out on something, as though this, right now, is the only time to be successful and the only measure of real success are these phenomenal numbers. But that's not true at all. We've all got our own goals, and each of us is going to have a different experience. If you don't have the following you want right now, there's still NO reason to suppose you won't have it this time next year or that next month won't be the month that you inexplicably just take off.

    I'm doing really well, but the shiny stars Konrath's been showcasing on his blog lately make me look kind dorky for even wanting to talk about how I've done. But no, that's dumb. Just because they've done exponentially better so far doesn't lessen what I've accomplished–which is doing what I want, reaching readers, and getting paid for it. And one of the things I got out of reading Konrath's blog today was that a lot of what goes on in this thing is inexplicable to him too.

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    1. Definitely. Every time I open my RSS reader I get more blog posts screaming at me about how much money and how many sales people are making. My goal, I need to remind myself, is to sell 500 copies of each book by the end of the year. We'll see how it goes… it's generally slow at the start and like I said, I'm not being consistent with my marketing.

      It's a good thing to be reminded that all of this is inexplicable. We don't know why we take off or not, if we have a good product in hand. I'll have to check Konrath's blog today. Haven't opened my reader because I was avoiding the stress haha.

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      1. Oops. Well, I do mention this idea a little (you inspired me to include that) so maybe it will be more than just screaming "I've sold a bunch of books!"

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  4. Hi Belinda, I think it's unusual for an indie author to sell lots of books, so hang in there! Like you, I have a day job that supports my writing and it's doubtful I'll hit the big time but I get so much enjoyment from writing that I'll take that for now! I think there is a cost to marketing–I'm much slower at writing after getting published.

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