Today is one of those days where the words “I can’t do this anymore,” escapes my mouth.
If you’re a new author, I have something to tell you. Take every pre-conceived notion you’ve ever had, open a window, and throw them out. Well, as long as the notions are as such: “If I publish a book, people will be excited to read it.” Or “If I publish a book, the masses will buy it.” Or “Oh my gosh, I’m the next Stephenie Meyer.” (Yes, I actually thought that. Please, don’t laugh. You won’t keep up with me.) Or “I’m going to make millions!”
Yes, Stephenie Meyers exist in the indie world (Marie Force, Lucy Score, etc.). Yes, people do make millions of dollars (see previous sentence). Yes, some people are excited to read my book. They are called “family and friends.”
The inexorable indie problem that stares us full in the face happens once we hit the “publish” button: nobody is buying the book. And that’s the truth. If you’re a new author and these words send you into that spiraling hopeless pit-of-despair-from-whence-there-is-no-return, take heart. Let’s unravel the “why.”
The #1 reason why nobody wants to buy our book is because NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT IT. Once you’ve struck the edges of your family and friend empire, there is nobody left. For some ridiculous reason, I thought that once I put my book out to the entire world, they would all see it, all love it (who doesn’t love a juicy, well-written, adventure-filled YA book?), and all buy it. But the truth is that Amazon does nothing for you. They don’t showcase it on their front page with a big blurb that says, “Amazon’s new rising star—author Claire Norsworthy.” Nope. In fact, if someone does a quick search of your title, they’ll be hard-pressed to find it.
Which leads into my second reason nobody is buying my book. The market is saturated. In the early days of Amazon, a person could throw a book online and make millions. Those were the early days. In 2021, the market is so saturated that my book is like a grain of sand at Cannon Beach. Or a little twinkly star in a galaxy of others.
So, to make my star shine brighter, there’s only one thing to do. Spend money. A frick ton of money. And that’s where I’m now at. Staring at my bank account longingly. Wishing it would grow and multiply with all my book sales. Again, that’s an idea I’ve had to chuck right out my open window.
My indie-author friend tells me that I need to throw $1,000 into my next big marketing event. (*Insert several sigh-releases here) My first advertisement was a complete flop. I spent $20 on BookBub, imagining that the worst that could happen is I’d just make it back with no profit. It was a gamble, but it was a tester. My book had 1800 views. Guess how many clicks?
I’ll repeat that again.
It had one click. Zero sales. I showed my author friend (His name is Todd) the ad, and what was his response? “Uggg”
Just what EVERY indie author wants to hear! But what did I learn? Marketing is an art. Marketing is not for the faint of heart. Marketing takes time, research, and a really good photoshop program.
Being an indie-author also takes patience. Patience to wait for the artist, the alpha reader, the editor, the post office (who is sixteen days late in delivering my TWO DAY package), the beta readers, the format person, Amazon, BookBub, my friend’s review… I could go on and on.
If it were up to me, my second book would have been out a couple months ago. Instead, I wait patiently, working on all the little things that overwhelm me and make me fail.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve declared to my husband, “I quit. I can’t do this anymore.” But the ironic part is that I wrote a book about a girl who never gives up. In many ways, I am that girl. When I’ve gotten no sales, haven’t been able to send out my manuscript to my alpha reader, and nobody is clicking on my ads, I feel like Katie, lying on my belly on the cold asphalt, letting the rain pour on my back, succumbing to my defeat. With a groan, I realize I have to stand back up.
I know that every human encounters trials that need insurmountable endurance. This is mine.
Just like Katie, I need to turn the words “I can’t” into “I will.”