I have over 1500 likes on my FB author page. These are genuine likes. I didn’t pay for advertising. Yet…out of all of those likes, only 14 are talking about it–whatever that means. Sometimes I’ll receive an influx of likes and my activity will rise to the 100s. But then just as quickly, it will die. I’ll admit I haven’t been that busy on my page. Recently I started posting more: The original number was 5. Yet, even when I do post continuously, I can get, at most, probably 50 or 60 actually talking about it. Out of all those likes, that’s EXTREMELY frustrating. One time I had over 300 talking about it because there was a point where I just had a flood of likes, and I didn’t even know where they were coming from! But, of course, it died…fast. This video explains my frustrations perfectly and why I have considered abandoning my FB page numerous times. It’s not like my fans are really seeing anything I post. FB, after all, WANTS you to spend money on promoting your page, and it wants you to keep doing that.
I found this post on Tumblr a few days ago, and I had been meaning to write an article in response to it for a few days. Sometimes, however, you come across something else to talk about that takes more precedence–or that needs to take precedence. But the basic gist of this post is that readers–and I’m not sure if this is an ‘on average’ thing–have this notion that once you’re an author, it’s a gold-colored mountain you don’t even have to climb. You just have to take the stairs, because writing is hard work, but you’ll only keep going up, never once stumbling to publish that next book. That mountain just keeps spitting golden dollars at you, and you’re suddenly a celebrity, be it micro or what, when that’s far from the truth.
(I’m excluding self-published authors from this post because the above article doesn’t seem to include them. Even so, self-published authors can relate to some of the fears present within the linked post.)
In any case, I implore you to read the post before continuing on with mine, as I basically want to touch upon this one point:
Published authors deal with all of the same fears that unpublished authors do, and most of them are magnified by a factor of ten. The fear of the blank page, the fear of not meeting publisher/editor/agent/audience expectations, the fear of embarrassing yourself. These fears can be absolutely crippling. They can prevent the books you want to read from being written at all. I guarantee you, the author in question is a lot more upset about this than you are, no matter how much you love their books.
The above quote is so real for me.
So for those who have never been published, it sucks getting those rejection letters, right? You start to question if your writing will ever be good enough, or if you’re even cut out for the field of publishing. And if you answer both those questions, and you realize you’re not, well, then, at least you have an answer. Yeah, you can definitely self-publish that book, but not a lot of people have the money to do so, or the ability and skill to market and promote said book; thus, that book goes on to collect dust. You may never put your fingers to the keyboard again, but at least you have an answer. Then there are some who persist, and that persistence comes with rewards, but publication doesn’t alleviate the fears that unpublished authors have. As the quote states above, they are heightened.
Imagine already having a book under your belt as a traditional author, be it with a small or big press. Imagine that the reviews are rolling in. They’re good at first, but then bad review after bad review after bad review just starts killing all those other reviews. Your confidence is suddenly shaken worse than those rejection letters, I can promise you that. You wonder if your publisher made a mistake on you, because publishers sometimes do make mistakes on books. Either the books don’t sell well at all, or they sell well, but the horrible reviews start to kill those sales. That sort of a guarantees that the publisher will not take on any future projects of yours, even if you have a literary agent–and it can guarantee that you’ve just lost a great deal of your audience. Even if you’re close to your publisher, have a relationship with said publisher that isn’t so formal, don’t be deluded. It’s still business at the end or the day.
In fact, the author (Jordan Locke) of The Only Boy, has a literary agent, but that agent could not find a publisher willing to take him on because the dystopian hype is waning. He went on to self-publish it, and I’m grateful he did, because I loved the book. At the same time, he didn’t have to sink that much money into it, if any at all. He and his agent had already edited the book to death, and he is a graphics artist, so he was able to create the cover art himself. He probably formatted the book himself, too.
When Stars Die has 61 ratings. Currently it shows 55 reviews on Goodreads at a 4.42 average, so I’m not sure what the real average would be if you added in those 6 other ones. It tends to jostle between 4.37 and 4.47. I have more 5 star reviews than any other star reviews. Even so, as time goes by, I expect that those ratings will pick up in intensity, and when they do, will they be continuously okay to great reviews (3 , 4, 5 star), or will they start dragging my book down the proverbial mountain?
I have an author acquaintance whose ratings started out great, probably more than the 61 I have right now, but as time went on, the ratings grew worse and worse. Her rating is dangerously teetering, and any more bad reviews could push it into the 2 point something range. I loved the book, but I find it’s more of a literary dystopian than a commercial one. Most people lack the necessary analytical skills to truly understand a book that is literary in nature, so books like that are often more difficult to understand than books that are commercial–unless you’re John Green, who might actually be more commercial than literary.
It’s a very real fear I have, that my book will eventually plummet into horrible-rating land. Sometimes I wish the book had never been published. It’s totally irrational, and that could be my anxiety disorder speaking, because publication has always been my dream. Even so, let me point out to those who haven’t been published yet, if you’ve already been published and only see rejection letters for your next book, those rejection letters will sting 10x as hard. After all, you’ve published once. Why wouldn’t you be published again? Or are you just going to be a one-hit wonder, and that’s it?
Once you’ve published a book traditionally, your expectations of publication grow more than someone who has never published a book. You basically expect that your current publisher, who loved your previous book and would most likely enjoy the next because it fits with their tastes, will take on your next project. And when they don’t, you feel more lost than ever before. Which brings me to my next point.
When Stars Die went off without a hitch. It was a relatively easy book to write, and a relatively easy book to find publication for. High expectations were met, and, admittedly, those met expectations made me preen. But then I started going into the second book, and I began to realize that it was much harder to write than the first, and I think any author should expect that with a sequel. Libba Bray did. I worked my butt off on it. I even had two professional editors (one who did it for free, and even edited books for mainstream publishers), edit about 20 chapters of the book before the mainstream one and I had to part ways because I couldn’t intern for her anymore–although I will admit her fact-checking skills were lacking. However, her comments were phenomenal for TSAI. Her comments are the reason When Stars Die is the way it is today–and why it was so easy to write.
Then the other editor, now-turned author and a former pupil of hers, enjoyed it, even though I knew there needed to be a first book, as there was a lot of information given in the beginning that needed to be broken up; thus, When Stars Die needed to be written. She did a copy edit of the book. She seemed to believe no structural changes were necessary. I still made structural changes, though, after having been away from it for a few years. Doesn’t mean she was wrong. Just means I thought up a better path for the book to take.
So I was confident when I sent this book off, unable to find anymore more that needed to be done with it. Mariah had some great criticism, which is more than I can say for previous beta readers I’ve had with initial drafts of the book years ago, that initial draft being a terrible piece of garbage, so entirely different from The Stars Are Infinite, the current book I sent off.
Even so, this sudden dark pall overtook me, especially yesterday. Those high expectations for the first book hadn’t been met with the second, and even though I knew it would need work (what sequel doesn’t?), I didn’t expect that I’d begin to feel like a failure.
Your ultimate fear is that you will not meet your agent/editor/publisher/audience’s expectations. They adored your first book, but then you feel like you’ve disappointed them when your second book can’t compare to your first. Your publisher’s opinion is what matters most, though, and if it seems like you’ve disappointed them, you begin to question whether or not subsequent books you write are even worthy of publication, or even worth writing. You yourself might love the story, but you might only ever be the one, until you start hating it because it doesn’t meet anyone’s expectations.
So it doesn’t matter that you have one book published. Not one bit. Yeah, you defied all odds, but now you have to keep up that success, and when you can’t, you spiral into this temporary depression. Sometimes it’s not temporary. Sometimes that book you want to send off to your current publisher goes unwritten for a few days, thus forcing you to lower your expectations further over when you’ll get it finished.
Now that you’re an author, people are going to expect that you will keep publishing. You’re going to expect that you’ll keep publishing. And when those expectations aren’t met, you wonder if you were ever good to begin with.
I’m writing All Shattered Ones right now, because I can’t outline the third book in the stars trilogy until I know just how much work TSAI will actually need. I don’t write all three books in a trilogy at once before sending the first book off. A lot of authors don’t. It’s why it sometimes takes two years for the sequel to come out.
So I’m writing ASO, this contemporary fantasy, wanting it to be my next book to keep my readers fed, so to speak. It’s not in The Stars Trilogy. It’s a standalone. While I know exactly what work it needs when I go through to revise it after I’m done writing it, my biggest fear is that even when I work my butt off on it, my publisher won’t take it. Then I’ll feel completely lost. Yep, I can totally sub it to other publishers. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, but I already have in mind that I’m going to seek a lit agent for a contemporary book I’m going to write once The Stars Trilogy has been completed. As it stands, I can’t do anything with A Collisions of Stars, until I have the edits complete for TSAI.
As you can tell, I feel like a complete and utter failure, despite what others have said. When I can’t meet someone’s expectations, I feel like I’ve failed that person, that I disappointed said person. Sure, I can handle edits and criticism just fine, or else When Stars Die wouldn’t exist. If I meet someone’s expectations, even if there is still a lot of work to be done, I can feel comfortable knowing I didn’t disappoint that person.
I suppose it’s a fault in me. I’m a people pleaser. When I can’t please people, that feeling of total failure sets in. I feel like I’ve studied for hours for a particular test, took the test, only for that test to be handed back to me with a 63. It didn’t matter how hard I studied. I still got a 63, and only I can come back from that. No amount of reassurance can take back the fact that I got a 63 after all the hard work I put into studying (and, yes, this mostly happens to me in history-related classes, but it’s the essays and projects that always made up for the tests).
All in all, only I can come back from feeling like a failure. No one else can do that for me.
Before diving into the nitty gritty of this post, click on this article to learn some more about we freelance editors, and what some will not tell you because we assume it’s the obvious. However, I have learned that it is not, which is why I’m going to create a contract future clients will sign, as well as putting a disclaimer on my website.
Continuing on, I want to first preface this by saying that I know not all of my clients are going to be wonderful, pretty snowflakes that I want to catch in my hand and hope they don’t melt. However, the last experience I had with a client was horrible. It was made even worse because I met him in public, which I am no longer going to do with local clients. Overall, this client could not handle criticism, but I am going to use examples from what happened to show you what to expect when hiring a freelance editor–and overall how you should actually be treating freelance editors, who are treating you and your manuscript with respect, not the ones who aren’t.
- Be clear and specific about what you want. I will take some responsibility, as I do not have specific prices for each type of editing I do. In the future, if a client asks for a proofread, that is all I will do, even if it needs so much more because the manuscript is a train wreck–but more on that later. But it’s your responsibility to be sure that you are ready for that. However, my client told me he wanted me to clean up the manuscript for grammar, but he also asked me to tell me if it was publishable, which basically gave me permission to tear the manuscript apart to unearth that publishable potential. When I sent the editorial letter and we talked on the phone that same day, he seemed like he appreciated my feedback. However, he was an angry bear in public, claiming he only wanted me to check on grammar, that he already knew that he needed to re-write the novel before handing it off to me, which brings me to my next point.
- Re-write the manuscript until you cannot see what more you can fix before sending it off to a freelance editor.
My client should not have sent his manuscript off to me if he knew it needed to be re-written. What is the point of me fixing grammar and then asking if it’s publishable if he already knew he wanted to re-write it? Grammar would then have to be fixed again. I didn’t understand this logic. Wanting me to check for grammar when you know it needs a lot more is wasting not only your time but my time as well. Sure, I’ll get paid either way, but I want to HELP you. I want you to succeed, not out of vanity, but because I want you to fall in love with your own book and keep going at it. I always try to unearth the potential in every manuscript, no matter what state it is in. I am not perfect, but I will try to be.
- Freelance editors are human, and we will make mistakes and miss things. My client literally yelled at me in a public space, which was in a respectable bookstore called The Book Tavern. He kept shouting, “Attention to detail! Attention to detail!” because I accidentally called his agent character a scouter. Whoops. But it was so minor that I didn’t even bother standing up for myself. I just let him vent while apologizing that he didn’t like my work, even though I know I am a competent editor because I was trained by the very best, Georgia McBride, who has been hired by the Big 5 as a freelance editor when they were swamped with client submissions. She was impressed with my ability to help someone unearth the potential in their work, though she had to really train me on how to approach giving criticism to someone without sounding vicious–which I never intentionally do, but everyone reacts differently to everything, so I really try to find that delicate balance that won’t offend MOST of my clients. All of her apprentices, so to speak, have gone on to become competent freelance editors, as well as published authors. Without her, When Stars Die would have been difficult to edit on my own to make it submission ready. Am I the best editor out there? No, because I am still learning, but am I competent? Yes.
- Sample edits. I will now be doing sample edits not only to give you a taste of my editing style, but to also let you decide what type of editing you want me to tackle in your book. However, a sample edit is not always representative of the rest of the book, so you need to decide carefully what you want. For example, if you simply want a proofread, make sure you are not shortchanging yourself (you need to get plenty of feedback first before sending it off to me), because if you send your manuscript off to a bunch of in-house editors who reject it because it is not structurally sound, I can guarantee you the blame will fall back on me, even though you were the one who told me what type of editing you wanted me to do. What you do with my feedback is your responsibility from there, and having a book professionally edited in no way guarantees publication. I did a sample edit for my client, which basically showed him that I did a structural edit, so he knew what he was getting himself into when hiring me. Yet, at the bookstore, he yelled at me for deconstructing his book, even though he had approved my sample edit. He acted like I had destroyed it, that he needed to undo my destruction, even though, hopefully, he had the original, unedited version on his computer.
- Our job is to make it the best book it can be. Since my client should have known I was going to make structural changes, he shouldn’t have blown up on me and told me that I didn’t get the story. Frankly, there was nothing to get. He spent little time in the perspective of his protagonist and had ten different perspectives, right down to peripheral characters, you know the ones that need to be there, because, well, people exist, but they’re not important to the overall story. You just need to say, ‘There were a lot of soldiers in this group, from the bright to the dull,” but I do not want a POV of any of those soldiers, not when they aren’t major or at least secondary characters, ESPECIALLY NOT NEAR THE END OF THE BOOK. So throughout the manuscript, I pointed out things, and then told him the story basically ended a quarter of the way through the book because he in no way at least hinted at where the book was truly going. However, I took all elements of his book since I knew what story he wanted, and tried to piece them together in the letter I sent him so that he could have this one thing, as well as the war part, which he felt was the most important aspect of his book that I did not think he weaved well into the story. But, as I said, I wanted to make it the best book it could be in a way that kept all of the elements that he wanted. But he still blew up on me in spite of the fact that I told him I wasn’t telling him what to do, but merely advising what he could do to make it the story he wanted, so that all elements fit together nicely to create a strong story. I did see potential in that book, and I am only sorry that he didn’t think that, even though I repeatedly told him that I did see potential. This isn’t to say I was perfect with his book. Maybe I wasn’t compatible with this book. I will never know, but I have had satisfied clients in the past, so I do know I’m doing something right.
- You don’t have to agree with the editor. It’s going to sting me, yeah, because I genuinely want to help you find the potential in your book. If I haven’t, please let me know in a polite manner and at least thank me for taking the time out of my day to do so. Also, if you don’t agree with my edits, I will be happy to have a lengthy discussion with you so I can justify why I did what I did in order to help you better understand with the idea that you will at least consider my feedback, even if you disagree with it. I didn’t agree with all of my publisher’s feedback, but I did consider why he felt that way, and guess what, I made the changes because he is an outside perspective and I am not, and I am glad I did because I’m confident they made the book better. Also, not every editor can bring out the true potential in every book we edit. Some editors at publishing houses reject books because they know they will not be able to make the best it can be, not because the book is bad and has no potential. The difference with freelance editors is that we are not editing to publish your book. We are editing to see what we can find in your book, hoping that you will look at our feedback and try to strengthen what we found with your own ideas. Ultimately, we freelance editors want to make you a better writer. I think freelance editors exist to be teachers, not editors preparing your book for publication, unless you’re actively getting multiple editors on board to prep your book for self-publication. My client, on the other hand, at the bookstore, refused to listen to me when I told him his plot had de-railed–and it had. He kept positing I didn’t understand the story, and he was extremely rude when doing so. He would not even consider why I did what I did, and I never even got to justify anything. The hilarious thing is that the day before, when I talked to him over the phone, there was this implication that he had read my feedback and basically told me that the feedback suggested the book would need a lot of work, so he thanked me. But in the bookstore, he didn’t thank me and turned away after giving me my money, which he felt was wasted on me, even going so far as to telling me he will never use my services again. If your freelance editor is treating you with respect, do the same in return, even if you are not happy with the work, even if you don’t want to work with that person again, or think that person will work better with another book of yours, especially if you were pleased with the sample edit. Not all of my clients are going to be compatible with me, and I am okay with that. There are multiple editors in publishing houses for a reason, not just so they can keep up with clients’ manuscripts, but so those manuscripts can find editors they’d be compatible with.
- Don’t tell an editor one thing and then say something different after the fact. My client specifically told me the novel I was editing was for young readers, so I treated it as such, much of my feedback pointing out that this is how he should do it to make it enjoyable for young readers. However, when we met in the bookstore, he turned on me and asked me where I got the idea that it was a book for young readers (I have the e-mail as proof that he told me it was for young readers). He told me it was a book he was trying to write for adults, and that he didn’t want to dumb down his writing. I didn’t say anything about this at all. I was speechless, not only because he was oblivious to what he had told me, but because he implied the writing in books for young readers is “dumbed down.” It is not. The best children’s books are those that can be read and enjoyed by many. The writing in these books is sharp and intelligent. The stories themselves are what categorize the book as being middle grade or young adult or whatever, not the writing, usually, unless you’re talking about a book for a first-time reader where the writing has to be simple.
- Don’t attack your editor. What I mean by this is that my client attacked me as a person, not just as an editor. This is what made me angry. Before I was hurt, but his attack on me as a human being is what did me in, but I stood there and took it because I knew fighting back would do no good and would offend the establishment we were in. Not only was I at The Book Tavern to represent myself as a freelance editor, but I was also there representing AEC Stellar because I gave that bookstore my publisher’s info to see about getting the book stocked there. In any case, he used my age against me. I am 23 years old. I have a lot of editorial experience behind me through internships, and have been writing seriously since I was 14, not just writing, but also actively seeking criticism and revising, revising, revising, which I think is the stage where you learn the most from. I received the best education from Georgia McBride, and I consider her a teacher that taught me a creative writing degree’s worth of education. I have a book published with pretty good reviews so far. I didn’t shove this in his face when he told me he had been writing since he was 20-years-old. He has never sought out publication for any of his works, which is why I didn’t feel like having a book under my belt mattered. There are people out there who are probably better writers than me who have never sought out publication. But it seemed like I was the first person he ever sought feedback from, because he certainly didn’t act like he was used to it. He looks to be about my dad’s age, and my dad is in his 50s. So I will let you draw your conclusions from there about his experience with writing.
- If you are meeting your editor face-to-face in a public space, do not blow up. As you’ve read so far, my client did. I had to personally call The Book Tavern and apologize on both of our behalves because I wanted to show the bookstore that I respected their establishment and that I did not intend for our meeting to go down as it did. I was really excited to meet my client, because I love meeting new people. Even so, the manager even had to tell us to take it outside–it got that bad between my client and I, though I was pretty much a bunny facing a bear. I was just flabbergasted, unable to stand up for myself because I had no experience in dealing with this, but I can tell you I wasn’t rude at all, though I did find a point in our conversation where I was about to be, but I shut myself up. Because of this, I am never meeting local clients anywhere again. If I do, I am bringing a third party, plus the contract said client signed, to hopefully keep the peace between us and establish some rational ground. All in all, I was sorry my client didn’t like his experience with me, but he told me not to apologize in a way that said I called him a bad name, then apologized after the fact, and if I were really sorry, I would not have called him that bad name in the first place.
- The editor has the right to drop your book if the sample edit is not representative of the rest of the book. Now hopefully there is a contract with a clause stating this so no legal action can be taken, because many editors do ask for half the payment upfront for labor, and if they decide to drop the project, the client shouldn’t have to pay the other half. For example, if I do a sample edit of a section that only needs proofreading, then my assumption is that this is all the book will need. However, if I go through the book and discover that proofreading is impossible because of the large amount of errors present that don’t align with what proofreading actually is, I can feel free to drop that book until the client is willing to clean the book up so I can do proofreading, which is simply looking for little errors that the author was unable to see, not re-writing sentences due to grammatical errors, like misplaced modifiers. I will drop the book so that I don’t have to change the total price I gave you in the beginning, which can understandably upset clients who were told one price, then that price suddenly had to be changed because the editor had to put more labor into the work than what was originally expected. Now my client had a right to be upset about this, because I did change the price after the fact, but I am still trying to get the business side of things together, and I think my experience with him has finalized how I want to do things, so I suppose a bad experience with him wasn’t a total waste. Of course, my client didn’t sound upset over the phone that I had to raise the price, but he sure raised Cane in the bookstore.
Overall, this was a learning experience for me, and the one good thing it did was finalize the business side of things for me, so I will be updating my website, adding a disclaimer, and creating a contract that I will post on the website so you know what you’re getting into before you request my services. The one promise I can make is that I will do everything in my power to help you see the potential in your book. I want you to learn to be a better writer so that way you can go on to be published to inspire and entertain people with the beauty that came from your heart, that beauty being your story.
Preface: I just want to give all of you a bipolar update, basically. It seems my mood has stabilized, and there is a summer going on in my head. I will admit that yesterday I was manic, but I believe I induced that mania by eating too many espresso candy beans, so I’ll have to be wiser about caffeine in the future; however, it wasn’t dangerous mania. It was more of the go-go-go type of mania, where slowing down just annoyed me, and I just wanted to listen to loud music, talk all the time, move constantly, and act, well, like a teen on meth, basically. But, for once, I did not crash from this mania. I generally crash into depression, but I just slowly wound down, got tired–for once, not irritable–and just went to bed knowing I was no longer manic but feeling like I could wake up early and not sleep in. And I did wake up early: 8:30. I could have woken up earlier, but I’ll probably have to cut down my sleep meds, as I had to raise them because depression makes it difficult to sleep, even with meds. I think the higher dosage also makes me dream tons load, but I was actually dreaming good dreams last night, instead of nightmares. I am so getting off topic, but one of my dreams was about this ensuing flood that was coming, and the water level kept rising, but, for some reason, I felt so heroic throughout the whole dream because I was the one leading everybody to higher ground. In any case, without further ado, here is my post about marketing…finally.
I consider myself a very marketing-minded person. I realize that marketing books is an enormous passion of mine. I love it. It’s fun. My publisher can do marketing and take care of the business aspect of things, too, and I can do marketing myself because When Stars Die is my baby, so why wouldn’t I be happy to market it?
In any case, let’s start with those four words over there. My publisher took care of basically all four of these, but especially price and place. He set the price of my book based on what he believed to be a competitive price, and people don’t seem to mind this price because, again, the book is out of stock. He also chose the places this book would start at, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble–online. But he also chose his wife’s store to put AEC’s books in. He is also encouraging me to go to The Book Tavern downtown to establish a relationship with the business owner so he isn’t making a cold call about getting my book in stores. There are also some other things about place, but those are a surprise and a work-in-progress.
I mainly provided the product, but my publisher also helped to whip that product into shape. A product’s quality is the NUMBER ONE thing when it comes to marketing, and without my publisher, the quality of my product wouldn’t exist. If you have a crap product, no amount of publicity is going to help that thing. He also helped with promotion, through press releases, encouraging of ARCs, social media, an anthology, among a few other things. But for the promotion, I just took off from there like a steam train because it’s my book, I love it, I love my fans, and I want to be out there, out there, out there. I am proud of my book, and so of course I’m going to parade it around like it’s my kid who just won a Nobel prize for discovering magnematter (a total hint at Raymond Vogel’s ‘Matter of Resistance.’ Seriously, people, get the book).
First off, marketing a book is not like marketing Coke (not the drug, you gutter rat). When you see an ad for Coke on television, you aren’t going to immediately go out and buy a Coke. However, if you see the ad enough times, your brain subconsciously picks up the messages within the advertisement. Your brain registers how great Coke is, what it can do for you, this for you, that for you, ect., so the next time you go to the store and want a drink, you’re more apt to pick up a Coke. Now we all have our drink favorites. I prefer Sprite myself, but if there is Coke in my fridge and no other drink, I will drink that Coke, and I’ll eventually find myself wanting another Coke. For example, I bought some berry vodka a few weeks ago (I don’t think I’ll ever be drinking alcohol again. I think even a little alcohol will sink me into a depression), and I bought Coke for it because I REALLY wanted Coke after having drank it so much from it being in my parents’ fridge. So, essentially, because Coke is primarily in my parents’ fridge, that fridge is basically advertising Coke to me constantly, which sounds silly, but the more you see something, the more apt you are to buy it because you’ve heard so much about it. So even though ads have become white noise to us now, our brains are still picking up on these ads, and whatever ones our brains remember the most, those ads are likely going to be the products we buy. We may think we buy something simply because we’ve been perusing the shelves and have seen it, but most of us have likely seen it in an ad first. I know my favorite clothing line, Princess Vera Wang, is at Kohls’ stores, but I first saw it in a magazine and thought the clothes were cute. So it’s now my favorite clothing brand.
Unfortunately, advertising books is not like advertising Coke. For one, you don’t see ads of books on televisions or billboards, unless you’re James Patterson. You may see them on Google, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads, but you’re likely to not even click on them. They’re just white noise to you. So why are ads still being used? Many try to use ads for branding, trying to treat it like Coke, but since these ads are primarily online, no one is going to click on them. Perhaps 1 out of every 100 or 1000 will do it, but those ads are VERY avoidable. Apparently Google ads will work, if you know how to use them, but for those of us who can’t pay for someone to teach us how to use them, we can think of more creative, fun ways to create exposure. We as people don’t like ads. We hate them on our Youtube videos, so we skip those. If we can skip an ad, we will. However, it is primarily the big books that get the ads, so advertisements probably work for those books because they remind people that this popular author’s book is coming out, but ads won’t work for someone who has just started out, like me, so I have to think of other ways to promote myself. Books are not like advertising Coke because, for one, reading is down, competing with other popular forms of media, and people are mainly buying books now through word-of-mouth, or for books that are similar to the previous books they’ve just read.
So what did I do to advertise my book before and after its launch? I set up a cover reveal with Lady Amber, did a bunch of interviews, sent out ARCs, and my publisher sent out some press releases before the book. Now the marketing for the sequel of the second book is going to be MUCH stronger before the launch, but this post will primarily concentrate on what I did on the launch date and after.
So on the launch date, as you know, I bought a blitz from Juniper Grove. This created enormous exposure for my book, and, really, as a first time author with a first book out, you want exposure, exposure, exposure, so that way you can build yourself up like Coke. My publisher also sent out a press release that received enormous attention. There was also a basic press release from YA Interrobang, where my book was with the likes of Veronica Roth’s, Allegiant–so, in that way, I was very lucky. I also won a free three-hour launch party, so I was also lucky, but I won’t have to worry about finding launch parties in the future. So all of this happening on my launch day just skyrocketed exposure to ungodly degrees that I can’t even tell you how many people must know about my book–or, at least, remember it.
But, after the launch date, I also bought a blitz from YA Bound, which still kept the exposure going. It also helps that I have an e-ARC with them for a month, so the adds have been continuing on Goodreads, even though they have been small–however, I have near to 500 adds, and I expect this number to REALLY rise once the e-book is out. What helps exposure even more is having only ONE print book to give away on Goodreads. You should only ever have one on Goodreads so you can use the rest of your print books for more exposure elsewhere. I gave away two print books during my launch party, one will be given away on a blog with good exposure, and another one will be given away during a radio interview I have in December–so, exposure, exposure, exposure. I also have a lot of interviews and guest posts happening during this month, and hopefully I’ll have a radio interview at the end of this month, if things go according to plan. I am also going to go to my local bookstore downtown and talk to the owner about getting my book in that store, and I will then refer him to my publisher. Also, I know When Stars Die was bought at my publisher’s wife’s bookstore, and the person who bought it loves it, and my publisher told me she just couldn’t stop gushing about it, so that really helps.
Another thing I’m doing to keep this exposure going is library visits and school visits. They are not set up yet, but a creative writing teacher at a high school where I live does want me to visit her creative writing class. Another teacher who I knew in my high school also wants to set me up for his economics class (about branding and all that, especially as it relates to my book), and two other English classes. He also wants to refer me to other high schools in the area. My publisher will be giving me materials to help me out with these things. And I should be having a book signing whenever, a radio interview in January, a big read-long on Goodreads in January, among a myriad of other things I’m going to continue to do to keep my book out there and continually increase exposure. And if all goes well, things for me are only going to keep increasing from here. I know it’s a lot on me, but it’s the job of an author, too, to keep marketing. Even if you’re with a big press, you need to also keep marketing your book thereafter. It is YOUR book, after all, so why wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to get it out there? It’s silly to just stagnate.
One last word: Spamming your book will not work. I see lots of others do this on Twitter and elsewhere. Also, I have noticed Facebook author groups where advertising is encouraged do not work. I don’t think they will ever work, so don’t even try. You need to be a lot more creative in getting your book out there. Hopefully I’ll eventually attend conferences and all that, as I know that will help, too.
Do you guys have any questions for me? Also, for readers, what has made you buy a book?
After the press release from YA Interrobang, I received a rather, well, insulting anon on Tumblr who basically told me I was cheating myself by going with a small press–and a new one at that. I will admit upfront that I did take a chance knowing they were new. Oftentimes experts will tell you to wait a year or two to see how the press does before submitting to it, but there were so many factors involved in my decision to submit to them that it would take too long to list them all, but one factor was that I was tired of holding my book back, not submitting it because I was afraid it wasn’t ready enough, and I just wanted to take a chance. I was at that point in my life where I realized I needed to take chances, and I was very happy that I did.
In any case, not only did they insult AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. and call them a vanity press because you don’t receive advances (but the royalties we receive can more than make up for the advances), but they insulted me by saying ‘you SEEM like you want to be an author, so why did you cheat yourself?’
Apparently I’m not an author, even though I have a book published with good reviews (only 23, I think, but still, that’s good enough, and they’ll keep growing, I know), with a publishing house that is a small press and not a vanity publisher, a book with a beautiful cover, a book that received great editing, and a book that received amazing exposure, a lot from me, but my publishing house is so flexible that they were/are willing to listen to advice to make them better, even though I think they’re great already because they produce great books in the first place. Plus, I do need to speak up more about what I want. And even though they don’t offer advances, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a legitimate house.
Some authors will tell you that you deserve an advance and shouldn’t settle for less, but if the house offers great royalties, I say, go for it. It doesn’t make them less legitimate than a house that does offer advances, but pitiful royalties. I even had this discussion with indie authors on Twitter. Some houses have you pay for a few things for your book, but the money DOESN’T GO TO THEM. IT GOES TO THE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDED THE SERVICES. And these indie authors agreed that that was still a legitimate house.Doesn’t mean your royalties will make up for the average advance (which, on average, can be anywhere from 500-1000), but I care more about readers reading my book, and even at a big house, the average book only sells 500 copies. Ever.
I’m tired of this attitude that you’re not an author if you go with a vanity publisher or self-publish. You are an author, ESPECIALLY if you took the time to make your book into a product that deserves sales. I would never ever recommend a vanity publisher, as you can do it much cheaper yourself, but if you can find a good, honest vanity publisher, know what you’re getting into, know the ins-and-outs of publishing from an author’s perspective, then I will not judge you for choosing this path. You are an author, regardless. A published book means you are an author.
***Repeat after me: A published book means you are an author.***
A published anything means you are an author. Ky Grabowski has a short story published, but she is still an author, even if it’s just one thing. I have been an author since I was in high school, although, admittedly, I didn’t feel like a real author until When Stars Die was published, but, you know, that’s my own personal insecurity that I eventually got over.
Overall, I did not cheat myself. I don’t feel like I cheated myself. Does this mean I won’t consider an agent in the future? No. I MIGHT, but I will still publish with AEC Stellar. You cannot tell me I cheated myself when you have no idea what the process was like for me, and that you have no idea what was in my contract, which I am not allowed to speak of.
My next post is going to be an interview that Mariah Wilson did of Writers AMuse Me Publishing, as they are now accepting playwrights.
To start off, let us assume that all people who self-publish are sinking at least $1000.00 into their projects so that they are able to compete with traditionally published books. This would include editing, cover designing, formatting, and a little bit of marketing, plus buying copyrights and ISBNs.
With the explosion of self-publishing in recent years, authors have taken the business of publishing into their own hands, turning what was once a stigmatized route into a route that takes just as much work to finalize a book as the traditional route takes to create a publishable product. But with this new route are proponents who believe that every writer should turn his/her back on traditional publishing in favor of going the self-publishing route. They cite such reasons as being able to keep one’s copyright, having full control of everything, the results being faster, no gatekeepers, making more money, and getting paid much faster, among a myriad of other reasons. While a lot of these reasons are viable, they also come from a very privileged standpoint from people who can afford to self-publish without having to sacrifice the food on their families’ tables. The fact is, for a self-published book to compete with traditional books, you have to sink some money into it, and not everyone is privileged enough to be able to afford this option, which is why the traditional route will always be a viable option for those who have to live paycheck to paycheck or for those who can’t scrap enough money together to go this route. Some people are lucky to know others who can do it for free, but for everyone else, receiving the services necessary to put together a decent book is going to come at a price.
At one point I wanted to self-publish When Stars Die because I did want control of my book. However, my research yielded I would have to spend a fortune (for me) to make this dream come true. Currently I have quite a bit of money in my account, but it took me half a year to scrap together that amount of money without having to sacrifice ballet–which is a sacrifice I refuse to make. But during that half year, I managed to land a contract with AEC Stellar Publishing whose royalties are about the same as if I were to self-publish. The only difference is I don’t have to sink near the amount of money into it as I would if I were to self-publish, so I don’t have to worry about making back all that money and more that I sunk into the project. So now I get to use that money on giveaway swag for my book, which is a privilege I would otherwise not have been afforded without being with a small press. So instead of picking up more work hours to make my self-publishing dream come true, I was able to spend more of that time writing and doing ballet, which is a privilege AEC Stellar Publishing allowed me to have.
Self-publishing, in my opinion, is for the business savvy mind or the author who already has a large platform. Most writers are not business savvy, and to gain a large platform takes years. I am certainly not business savvy, and I simply have a burgeoning platform. In fact, AEC Stellar Publishing has made me realize that self-publishing is not for me because I am way too close to my book to decide what needs to happen to it. I can weigh in on it, but I need the approval of a professional. Christine Braden and Raymond Vogel have come up with some awesome ideas for cover art that I would not have been able to think of without their help. They know the business of publishing and cover design and I don’t. I am just too close to the book to accurately judge what types of covers will draw a readership to my book–but they know because they are business savvy and were the readers of my book. And the fact is, most authors who go the self-publishing route aren’t the best judges at what covers should be used for their books. Most self-published book covers are terrible because the authors either design them themselves or do get a book designer but end up describing a poorly thought-out design that they don’t let their potential readers weigh in on. But then there are also a number of beautiful covers for self-published books for authors who really know what they’re doing. And then some authors get lucky with their covers.
I am not one of them.
Now it is possible to make more money self-publishing than traditionally publishing, but you have to have a fairly large platform and a little bit of luck to do so. Most self-published authors are not going to make a lot of money right at the start. Then many never do make that money because they are not business-minded and don’t devote the necessary time to marketing their books that they should. It is also difficult for self-published authors to justify prices higher than $2.99. Sometimes it’s even difficult for them to justify $2.99! As a reader, I can’t take 0.99 cent books as seriously as $2.99. Sometimes the author doesn’t care about money and simply wants to use that price point to develop a readership if there is a sequel, but $2.99 tells me the author has enough confidence in his/her book, and so I am apt to spend more money on a well-packaged self-published book than I am 0.99 cents. And I have. I have bought more $2.99+ books than I have 0.99 cent books. In order for me to spend 0.99 cents on a self-published book, I either already have to know you or need to be convinced by a large number of reviews to do so.
With the traditional route, you receive your advance as well as a royalty paycheck. You aren’t paid as often, and don’t get a whole lot, but if your first book sells well, your ensuing advances are going to be more. ALSO, by going the traditional route and receiving an advance, you can use that advance to self-publish your next book because your traditionally published book has helped you build that audience necessary to do well with self-publishing–let’s assume, in any case. So it’s very misleading to claim self-publishing can make you a lot of money, when this is flat out untrue for the majority. The majority of traditionally published authors don’t make a whole lot of money, either.
The traditional route exists for those authors who simply do not have the time to become business savvy in the world of publishing or who simply cannot afford it and won’t be able to afford it in the near future. People who self-publish need to realize what a privilege it is to be able to do so because it is. How awesome is it that you’re able to go at it alone (being able to choose your own editor and everything) AND be able to afford it? So to demean the traditional route is to demean all the writers who went that route because they know self-publishing is not for them for a multitude of justifiable reasons.