I don’t know a single person on the planet who doesn’t have at least one book in them. Alas, not everyone can write a riveting book, so even a fascinating memoir can fail, with so many titles coming out every minute of every day. (Literally! Every. Minute. Of. Every. Day.)
Sound daunting? It can be.
the story that must be told will be told
And those who have written one book will probably write another, even if the first one doesn’t sell hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of copies.
humans are natural storytellers
We love telling stories, true ones and tall tales. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
And those who aren’t telling stories often spend their rare, spare time listening to other people’s stories.
We’re communal, tribal…and insatiable. We like knowing what makes other people tick…or be a prick!
The best fiction reads as if it could (did) really happen. Some of it did. In countless fiction novels, names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.
The challenge, then, is “earning eyeballs” — that is, finding ways to get the word out about your book, and making sure that your outreach is every bit as exciting and alluring as the book you’ve written.
Why must it be so hard? Because millions of other people are vying for the same eyeballs, doing their best to engage and rivet them in place before they get a chance to find out about your offering.
Yeah, it’s daunting. I can hear you thinking, “Dammit, Kris, I’m a writer, not a marketer!!!”
If you’re publishing your own books (even if you aren’t), welcome to the real world. You are the best marketer of your book!
People want to meet authors! They want to ask you questions, pick your brain, and follow up on things you’ve written about. They have questions, you have answers.
So unless you’re willing to do the after work of writing a book, don’t expect to earn a decent living as an author.
If you’re shy or introverted (lots of writers are: I am!) you’ll have to bite the bullet and make the scary decision to put yourself out there in a big way. You’ll have to call bookstores and ask to do book readings or presentations and signings. You’ll have to invest your writing talents outside manuscripts, marketing the titles you’ve written. You’ll have to do podcasts as an interviewee, and radio interviews, and TV appearances (should you get lucky enough for a local TV show to want to interview you). You’ll need to be willing to look into the cornucopia of possibilities and take advantage of the ones that will help you connect with your target audience(s).
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
But the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it, the easier it will be, and the better you’ll like it.
Because, again, the people who show up to hear your story want to become (or already are) part of your tribe. They want to know you, down deep. They care. They share. They will help carry you.
But first you have to be willing to do what it takes to find them and invite them in.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a built-in cheering section asking, “When is your next book due out, and what it is about?”
That’s when your little, hand-packed snowball begins to grow into the base for a very large snowman.
That’s when your writing career starts taking care of itself.
That’s when you can start counting on sufficient ongoing book sales to bolster your bank account.
It isn’t rocket science. It’s isn’t easy–it’s time-consuming–but when you put the people, systems and processes in place that are there to help deliver your goals, it’s doable. My people include my best friend Lisa Twining Taylor, webmaster, social media maven and book cover designer; Rod Janpol, audio engineer and Star Trek/DeForest Kelley fan and personal friend; Judi Cooper, Jim Westbrook, Lynda Lien, Shayne Laughter, Karen Ren Synott, Edward Smith, Sandy King, Helen Schofield, and other beta readers–also personal friends and “viral sneezers” who LIKE and SHARE my book-related posts; and all of the people who have read my earlier books, loved them, and help me get the word out about them to the people on their social media sites. My systems include Amazon Web Services and Mail Chimp, various blog sites (this one, plus hireme.wordwhisperer.net, krisandkritters.com, and wordwhisperer.net) and my processes are myriad but include interviews, feature articles, blog posts, and other things.
So…I’m already contemplating what the topic of my next book should be, even as my latest title, Womb Man, hits the shelves.
What drives me ever-forward to the next book (other than the fact that I need to write the way I need to breathe air, whether it ever gets published or not) are readers’ reviews and email feedback I’ve received from my earlier books.
I feel the love, I read the thanks, and I think, “Oh, my gosh…I’m entertaining/helping/serving my readers. I’m earning my keep as a writer. It’s everything I’ve ever hoped for when deciding to write a book… I’m succeeding as a communicator! WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!”
And I get Christmas Tree Brain all over again…