On November 19, I released my first novel via Kindle Direct Publishing. On December 10, that same novel was available via paperback. Since then, I have had steady sales in both and very generous reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The journey of publication, in some ways, has just begun. I am now, for lack of a better term, a businesswoman with wares to sell.
So, my next step, naturally, is to panic.
Apparently, everybody and their dog is an expert on sales, online marketing, social media, key words and the like. (LIKE! Oh my! That word! Like! You can like my facebook page, the entries on the page, my Amazon author page, my reviews, my Goodreads stuff, my pins on Pinterest, ad infinitum . . . . ) This author, who has always teetered on the edge of panic, is completely overwhelmed by what I need to do to put my book out there. I’ve seen it in myself over the last few weeks that I the 13 reviews I have on Amazon (11 of them are 5 star, BTW) are not enough. I need more! The ratings I have on Goodreads (also mostly 5 star) are not enough. I need more! There is a part of me that insists that the only path to personal satisfaction is the elusive quest for more numbers; that it is by these numbers alone that my legitimacy as an author can be obtained. After all, I did self publish. It’s not like the demi-gods of the publishing industry have actually deemed me worthy. I need more! I need more! I need more!
Insert cliche′d scratched record sound here.
Now, why did I write a book in the first place? Other than the fact that I was completely obsessed with the characters and the fun romance they found themselves in, I wrote the story because I wanted to connect with people. I wanted to inspire. I wanted to get my readers to laugh. I wanted to make them think. I wanted them to use this little story to teach their children wisdom. I wanted to change the world one reader at a time.
One reader at a time.
That is not a strategy that will boost my rankings on Amazon.com.
It IS a strategy, though, that allows me to meet Barb, a mom in New Jersey, who asked me to guest post on her blog. Her enthusiasm for my book caused her to buy multiple copies as gifts. This strategy prompted my friend, Korinne, in the UK, to buy my book and suggest to her reading club to read it together. This strategy rekindled a relationship with a librarian, Maureen, in a town I used to live in, who wants to know what I’ll be publishing next. These women have names and families. They are people, not numbers.
When I think about the people who are reading my book — and they are not all women, mind you — the panic of numbers acquisition seems to subside. I check my sales stats less. I stop sending emails to reviewers begging them for a shot at their 2013 calendar. I stop sending those annoying “BUY MY BOOK NOW” tweets.
I signed up for this roller coaster ride for the thrill of it. I need to sit back and enjoy it more. I can still Facebook and Twitter, and do all those things, as long as I look at my connections not as sales potential, but as new friends, then my reward is bigger (cue the sappy music) than a royalty check.
Now that I’ve said all that, what do my writer friends think? Am I far too idealistic? Am I setting myself up for disappointment? Will I discard this excessively noble position once I hold my first check in my hands? Can you please retweet this article to generate sales?
(Oh, I kid.)
(No, I don’t.)
(Yes, I do.)