Struggling for Success or Satisfaction

Making books is hard. I know that realization should be self-evident, but no matter how many times I’ve gone through the book publishing process, it always seems to surprise me how difficult it actually is. In fact, everything gets more and more difficult the more often I do it.

Thankfully, the gradually increased difficulty of making books occurs for a very good reason: it becomes more difficult over time because I’m learning more about the process and what needs to be done to launch a book successfully every time I do it. That always means more work. But it’s work that is worth it.

The first time I ever published a book, I put in the effort to make a nice cover and to format the book as well as I could figure out, and then I put it out for the world to see. Then I waited and did nothing else, expecting people to see the beauty of this thing I made. To say that it didn’t work out would be an understatement. Honestly, looking back I can’t imagine what I must have been thinking. The fact of the matter is that I simply didn’t know what to expect, so my book got a pleasing number of 5000 downloads and then quickly drifted into obscurity.

My first experience attempting to publish a book was heartbreaking, but it helped me learn that I needed to put in more effort. I needed to do marketing and publicity. Unfortunately, I didn’t have money for such things and my knowledge of gorilla marketing tactics, search algorithms, and business was severely lacking. So I did a few free things to market my book, like setting up booths at local fairs and trying (and failing) to get libraries to add my book to their shelves. I made a little more money than the first book, but not by much.

For my current book, fine., which will be released on May 15, 2021, I took things a lot more seriously. I’ve spent the past two years studying business and marketing at my local library. I went to seminar after seminar where I learned about launch teams, pricing strategies, cross-platform promotion, and so much more. I optimized my book cover, made promotional materials, built a launch team, and have been doing nothing but work, work, and more work to try and get a win for my writing career. Over the past four days I’ve been working non-stop on all of my promotion materials and wrangling my launch team. I even meticulously hand-drew animation for my book trailer, which – let me tell you – is an exercise in perseverance when you have no prior animation experience.

I don’t know if this latest strategy will be my big break, or yet another learning experience. Either way, I can be happy if I sell one book or 1.5 million books. Over the years since I started writing, I eventually had to ask myself a very important question: if I knew that I would never make any money on my books, would I still want to be a writer? That question helped me realize that I have to make my writing career work, because I don’t want to do anything else. Being a writer isn’t all I am, but it’s such a significant part of my identity that I can’t imagine giving it up.

Making books is hard. It is hard emotionally, and it is hard practically. But I want it to be difficult, because the struggle that I face as a writer is the kind of struggle that leads to either success or satisfaction. It isn’t a life for everyone, but it’s mine.

Thanks for stopping by, and I will see you later!

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