Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frustration and What in the World Am I Doing?

It has been a rough week and life is kicking me in the butt and I'm venting here... I've gone through mid-terms, watched my bank account dwindle into double digits and bills pile up. A friend of mine had an interesting way of putting this situation.  You've borrowed from Peter to pay Paul and now both are broke. I'm basically jobless except for volunteering my services as a pastor, educator, or editor, and no one is going to hire and actually PAY a woman of my age for a job.  I was rejected by McDonald's!

On top of all this, I'm finding the only way to get my books in people's hands is to offer them free. Such is the life of a true indie author. I'm suffering from what is commonly called artistic frustration or starving artist syndrome. It's when you KNOW you have an excellent product and you are trying to make others aware of it. I offer my books for free to military personnel...it's the least I can do for our service men and women. This is my largest market so far.

I've social media'ed myself into a frenzy...my part not the buyers.I've offered coupons for free Fridays for the month of May and watched my numbers go no where. (Message me for the e-book code)I've followed every guideline I could get my hands on. I've tweeted it. I've added it to my messengers. I've emailed. I've Googled it. I've Stumbled it. I've Dug it. I've LinkedIn it. I've Facebooked it. I've myspaced it. I've SheWrites it. I've added it to the signature in every message I've posted. I've hit every place I could advertise and promote for free. I've created trailers to hit the youtube viewers. I've press released to all the regional newspapers. I've created and distributed bookmarks, flyers, and posters.

I've sold two books...count them one...two in the past month. At $0.84 per copy that's $1.68 cents...that's less than $0.01 an hour for labor (that's just in advertising)...oh wait, there is taxes to be paid, Internet services to deduct, power bill, printing costs like paper and ink.  Well, I'm in the hole big-time! What kind of marketing professional am I when I can't sell my own books? What in the devil am I doing? I have to be certifiably INSANE! Let me put the calculator away before I really get going and see how much I didn't earn while writing these books.

No book clubs here to promote at. No bookstore is willing to let an indie author in to even do a book signing. Just missed the author's reading/sale at the one public library in town. I cannot travel more than day trips and with gas prices the way they are I'd have to sell a couple hundred copies a trip to even make it profitable. Ah, the joys of living in a small town. About the only thing I haven't tried is running down Newcastle Street butt naked screaming at people to buy one...wait that would only serve to make people throw up and get me arrested...Nope, can't do that.

I know, I know it's brand building. It's making people aware of who you are...like this blog. But after months of this, I'm tired, beaten, and FRUSTRATED!  I'm not giving up, but I've spent far too much time doing all this instead of writing. It's is not a you build-they will come living.

Do I have thousands of dollars to pump into advertising...nope (remember the double digit bank account). I had thought to buy my paperbacks from CreateSpace and sell them at the local writer's conference in June, or even grab a booth at the local festival...wrong! At this point even ten copies of one book would break the my bank account. My account is screaming at me and teetering on the edge of red. I found myself in tears today just balancing my checkbook! The old "you gotta have money to make money" keeps biting me in the butt. That's when I knew I was seriously frustrated. I'm sure all you eleven followers know my feelings. I didn't self-publish to get rich, but I also did not self-publish to just provide free reading material for everyone either.

I emailed a friend, Jack McDevitt, and he agreed it was a rough way to go. Of course, he's been published in standard publishing for years and he and his wife are great. I think if I really had the choice I would have gone back to standard publishing, but that isn't even an option right now. I'm thinking about why I am doing this to myself. The answer is clear. I do it because I have to. I know I'm a good writer. I know how to tell a good story.

BUT is there anybody listening?

For good measure I'll promote it here again-
Both available at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
The Sacrificial Lamb
CreateSpace Link
Smashwords Link 
Facebook Author Page
Lamb Trailer

Escape from Second Eden
CreateSpace Link
Smashwords Link
Facebook Author Page
Eden Trailer
website
Author Page Amazon

7 comments:

deeann said...

*hugs* I'm glad you're not giving up. In order to carve out some time for writing, I recommend choosing the social network/promotion stuff you feel is either:

* most likely to reach your target audience

* the ones you're most comfortable using

and not bothering with the rest. Just 2 or 3 at most when it comes to the social networking stuff. It's so easy to spread yourself ridiculously thin. I know I did it with my jewelry. Then I finally realized I was just saying the same stuff in a dozen different places and was miserable, not getting anything else done.

Have you tried approaching some of the reviewers who are willing to take indie books?

J.L. Murphey said...

I have looked at them but most want a paperback copy...there in lies the rub and another reason to get frustrated which I really do not need.

Deniz Bevan said...

Hang in there Jo! All of you that are still way ahead of me in the self-publishing game are still an inspiration - you've already gone so many steps ahead of me; I'm still trying to edit my latest novel into submission!
Er, not that you feel like it but I've got just one more promotional/writers group you can maybe join - the Indie Book Collective. They're doing some neat stuff, even a Blog Tour de Troops (http://www.facebook.com/BlogTourdeTroops).

Zan Marie said...

Jo, I know the pain. That's why I've only printed 250 of my small devotionals. I know I don't have the energy to do the big time promotions, not to mention living on a fixed income. Good luck and a stiff wind to blow agents/publishers your way.

J.L. Murphey said...

Thanks all. It's a new day. Zan Marie, I'm actually not looking for an agent or publisher until after my husband dies. I just can't do the full time-promotion/on-the-road-humping they want right now.Fixed incomes are the pits. Income stays the same and everything else triples.

Mary Marvella said...

I'm following you and working to reformat my second book to submit to smashwords.

Forever Love is on Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes&Nobles. I'll check on LULU.com and the ones Amazon recommend for Print on Demand books.

John Chapman said...

Keep plugging away and eventually the break will come. You might have more success by withdrawing your books from everywhere but Amazon and joining their Kindle Select program. Make your books free for a couple of days and announce that on Facebook, your blog and Twitter beforehand, during and after.

We had much the same problem with our 'A Vested Interest' series of books. After two days of free promotion we had given away 2484 ebooks. In the following 15 days we sold eight times as many books as in the previous two years. Our promoted book climbed to the #4 medical thriller and #6 technothriller. it's still in the top 100. Now the sales of our other books are starting to rise, presumably as people finish the first 131,000 word book and want the rest of the series.

John & Shelia Chapman
@JChapmanAuthor