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

Dangerous Liasons in Social Networking

“Hush, hush. Keep it down now, voices carry!”
Voices Carry sung by Aimee Mann

This is an interesting time for those of us trying to market our work. We have the internet, and all the “free” networking that comes with it. But I would like to extend a word of caution to my fellow authors. As fun as social networks can be, they are a dangerous outlet of frustration and hurt feelings if not taken seriously.

Writer Beware wrote a similar article yesterday about authors who fail to think before hitting the submit button, which is setting a precedence. A precedence that makes us authors look like we’re a bit insane, overly sensitive, and a bit whiny, if you ask me.

So what is there to do about this phenomenon? There are a couple of things we can do to make sure we don’t fall into the same trap of having our friends spam a blog that gave us a negative review, or using Twitter as our campaign to cold-call a journalist.

If you’re upset, write out your feelings, sure. You’re an author. It’s what you do.

But don’t post your upset email, blog comment, tweet, etc, until the next day. This will give you time to calm down to make sure you actually want to put yourself out there as potentially crazy.

Have someone else read the review.

Make sure you’re not flying off the handle by having an objective friend read the review and tell you what they think of it. Maybe it isn’t as bad as you thought. Maybe it’s worse than you thought. But you have to understand that this is the price you pay for having your work published. Do you know how many people would kill just to have their name on the spine of a book? You’re lucky someone read you and cared enough to review it!

Do not, under any circumstances, post the phone number and/or address of the reviewer so your loyal friends/family/fans can harass them.

Bad author. Bad.

Realize that reviews are subjective.

It’s all about personal taste, and as an author you knew, hopefully, when writing your book that not everyone would like it. You’re allowed to be upset about it, but try to be graceful, too.

Treat it as a learning experience.

If you’re that concerned about the review, send the reviewer a letter asking what would have improved the work for them. If they give valid suggestions, then great. If not, then leave them behind.

As someone who has been hurt by an errant tweet, I can tell you that it is very difficult to do these things when you’re upset. It’s difficult to resist the urge to rush to the defense. It hurts when people submit hurtful comments online without thinking. It hurts more when they’re obviously submitting hurtful things on purpose. My advice? The best thing to do is to walk away. Do not stoop to “their level,” whatever that level may be, as it makes you look petty.

How many of you have had a bad review, and what did you do? Have you ever seen an online author melt-down?