by Molly Greene
Midnight at Half Moon Bay is out, Book 7 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, and it’s become a tradition to share what I’ve learned, good and bad, since I published the last title. Lock the Cellar Door went live May 31, leaving a long stretch to cover. Here goes.
1. Good things come to those who wait
… and prepare. I was lucky enough to receive a lovely, unexpected opportunity in late October, when I was approached by an ACX-approved audiobook producer. He emailed out of the blue to ask if I’d be interested in turning my series into audio. OF COURSE I WOULD!! I replied. Mark of the Loon is now live on Audible, and The Last Fairytale is in progress.
I asked how he chose me. He said he looked for good reviews, and authors who were sucessfully self-promoting. So next time you groan about all the book promos you set up, and the blogging and social media work you’re doing with no apparent payback, think of me. Takeaway? Good fortune can come knocking when you set yourself up for it. I’ll write more about the audiobook process soon.
2. My books picked up lots of reviews
One of my biggest 2015 book-related projects was to use free BookBub promos to generate reviews for each of my titles, with the ultimate goal of growing total reviews for each past 100. I did it – for all but Book 6, Cellar, which BookBub declined both times I submitted it. I’m really pleased, as those reviews played a part in the audiobook deal. Still, rats re: Cellar and BookBub.Which leads me to …
3. Marketing is a moving target
The book promo game is ever-changing. I was hugely fortunate Dec 21, 2014 – Nov 1, 2015 to score seven Bookbub promos, which boosted sales and KU borrows. But my last three “free” submissions were rejected by BookBub, leaving me out in the cold for holiday exposure, while my peers with fewer reviews were accepted at 99 cents. Darn it!
I have recently noticed fewer freebies in BB emails. This suggests a couple things: 1) BB makes more money on 99 cent promos and their readership has matured to a point where fewer freebies isn’t irritating, and 2) the books getting accepted are “wide,” meaning available on multiple sales platforms. So I am mulling the fact that I may have to pull my titles out of Select in 2016, or come up with a marketing strategy that is not BB-centric. Good luck with that!
4. Life intervenes – or, I let it
I accomplished an enormous amount in my personal life during the past seven months. But by September, I realized I was ignoring a ten-page list of low-grade annoyances that added up to days chock full of irritation over one thing or another, things like long, witchy hair, an original Kindle which I use constantly in my work that now had the tendency for half a page’s pixels to go dark without warning, a rural cable company with unreliable Internet service that was crazy-making.
I was ignoring and putting up with a dozen things that didn’t work, and those misfires grew to a point where they were running my life. They interfered with my ability to work. They put a cap on my joy.
So I went down the list. I chopped off my hair and donated it, upgraded my cell phone, tablet, and computers (and so am now learning all new platforms), applied to renew my passport in hopes I can travel in 2016, bought some necessities I desperately needed. All this took a chunk of time away from writing – but the takeaway? I don’t feel distracted and irritated all day long. That makes my work more enjoyable, too.
5. Writing gets easier, and it gets harder
I love my job and I’m grateful and excited over what I get to do for a (however small) living. But I won’t lie, I sometimes feel burnt to a crisp. While the “process” gets easier with subsequent books, the task itself gets harder with some. I sometimes reach for the whiskey bottle when other authors gush that “they were so excited about writing book #535 that they got the whole first draft down in four weeks.”
While I’m happy for them, these revelations can be depressing, especially when I’m flogging myself to get out the word count. I feel like I’m not doing enough. So when that happens, I mute social media for a while. The truth for me is that some books flow out like a raging river, and some are more like an abbreviated trickle in a desiccated desert. Regardless, being a novelist is a business that requires self-discipline, and I apply it, but I won’t be able to pop out books every two months. And that needs to be okay with me.
Authors, what about you? How do you balance the good with the bad? What have you learned along the way?
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