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A Follow-up on my Goodreads Advertising

A couple days ago I posted how I had written a Goodreads ad which, at the time, had not received even one click after a couple weeks of being in circulation. It takes special talent to write an ad that poorly. I feel honored.

Well, as an update, my new ad just started in circulation and, yes, wait for it, it already has ONE CLICK. I feel like I belong on Madison Avenue. I’m going to sell millions of copies, aren’t I?

Sometimes you are asleep at the wheel and don’t realize how bad you have performed. You need perspective, and an objective point of view.

Well, Goodreads whacked me over the head and I realized I can’t be lackadaisical in how I approach my promotion. Indie authors can’t afford that. They have to be purpose-driven (is that a trademark) and thoughtfully planned out.

But sometimes when you are in the midst of a busy week and you have so many things going on, an indie author is apt to let the little things slide by. It may hurt, but, luckily, there is always time to correct, change, adapt, and do better.

Keep striving for perfection, whether you hit it or not is not relevant.

It’s the aim that is important.

So what. My aim was a little off for a while. It has been corrected, and I’m ready to move on and conquer the next aspect of my fledgling career.

Here’s to indie authors! Keep the faith!

 

An Extremely Unscientific Writer’s Scale

An Extremely Unscientific Writer’s Scale:

Professional. Amateur. Hobbyist. Wannabe. Awesome passionate dreamer. Devoted Craftsman. (or craftswoman)

What exactly is an indie author? Who am I?

I’ve said before on this blog that I write because I love it. I am compelled to write. I cannot not write. I have stories that I want to tell, and creative outlets that I want to explore, so where does that put me on the indie scale?

By strict definition, I’m not a professional because writing is not my sole means of income. Teaching brings home the bacon for me.

But I certainly don’t consider myself an amateur, and I think that the term “amateur” cannot be correctly applied to indie authors. I (we) strive for a professional level product even if our big break hasn’t come along yet. So step aside amateur, you are not for me.

What about hobbyist? Hobbyist is another term that I’m not comfortable with because it implies something that one does on the side – a thrilling activity that one enjoys, but it isn’t their main gig. But writing for me is far beyond that a side attraction. I used to collect baseball cards, and that was indeed a hobby. I was no expert at collecting, but I learned and had fun with it, but I never expected to make a living doing it. It was a hobby. Writing for me is not a hobby.

Wannabe? Of course that has a negative connotation as well, like a rock groupie who dresses in a star’s clothes and hangs out outside celebrity parties on the weekend. A wannabe says things like, “Look, my book is only 5000 places behind John Grisham’s.” A wannabe is one who compares and wants to succeed because of perception. I am certainly not a wannabe.

Awesome passionate dreamer. Now we are getting somewhere. My mind is constantly working on the next plot or character trait. It’s scanning the environment for possible scenes and action sequences. It knows no bounds. I could be an awesome passionate dreamer, and if that is all I ever am, I’d be happy.

Devoted craftsman. For me, this is my goal. I am devoted to the art of writing. I want to improve every time I touch the keyboard. I strive to improve and create the most exciting, meaningful, and poignant manuscripts that I have within me. I do it not for money or fame or wanting to climb up Amazon’s charts, but I do it because I’m an awesome passionate dreamer.

I think that pretty well describes an indie author. An awesome, passionate dreamer who is a devoted craftsman. Do you agree?

Be True to Yourself in Your Writing

I was reading an article from a writing website which was talking about the habits of successful writers. On the whole, I agreed with many of their ideas and suggestions, but one of them led me to pause, and I couldn’t quite completely agree with them. What was it? Research the market and write in the genres which sell the best.

I understand why they would say this. In order to maximize a writer’s exposure, your book needs to sell, so the logic is, fit your writing into the genres that sell. Easy, right?

Not for me. I’m not writing to sell books. I want to sell books, but I don’t write to sell books. I write to tell stories – the absolute best stories that I can tell – the creative stories that pop into my brain and take me on a joy-ride of discovery. And I will not (I’m stubborn) bend my writing to the whims of what people like to read. The reason for this is simple: I believe readers will enjoy and appreciate a well-written story no matter what genre it is in.

I’ve seen this many times over with my own books. I’ve had many people who have said things like ‘This wasn’t really my kind of book, but I started reading and got hooked.’ (sorry for the rhyme)

I won’t write erotica. I won’t write sci-fi or dystopian. I won’t write about vampires. Even if I could be a best seller in those categories, they don’t interest me.

To me, writing is, in its purest sense, a way to display the real me. (Just don’t confuse me with my characters – but that’s another post.)

I love writing, but I would hate to make writing a chore just to fit into the marketplace.

So thanks for the advice, but I think I’ll pass.

I’m Building My Platform – Not Yours

I have this habit of picking on literary agents. It is probably not a great habit for a writer to have, but the target on their backs is sometimes so darn irresistible.

Perhaps I don’t understand literary agents, and perhaps I never will. But sometimes they seem to say the most ridiculous things.

A while back I was reading an article in which a literary agent was outlining what she likes to see as far as an author’s platform when she is considering whether to work with a new client or not. All right I know what you are thinking. Why am I even reading this article if I’m not interested in an agent? I was doing research for my blog, OK? Plus, I am interested in building my author’s platform or at least I try my best, so I’m always open to new ideas.

Now let’s shift focus back to the literary agent who will soon make us all laugh. She was outlining, in rather specific terms, how extensive a reach that an indie author should have before she will agree to become their agent.

Well, might I just say I started choking at first and then I started laughing. She gave out ridiculous numbers, wanting a blog with such and such reach, and a Facebook account with so many followers, and a Twitter account with X number of thousand of followers.

The numbers were so ridiculously high that if my blog was reaching 50,000 people a month, why in the world would I need a literary agent? If I had that many active readers, why would I want to pay a percentage of my profit to you, literary agent, because you didn’t help me get any of them?

I,perhaps rather foolishly, thought that literary agents cared about representing an author because he or she wrote good stories. Shouldn’t it really be that simple?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the importance of “building your brand”, “interacting on social networking sites”, and “building a readership.” I will always spend part of my time doing these activities.

But if I build a successful brand by myself, I’m certainly not going to give the profit away to someone who ignored me when all I did was write quality stories.

So I shall conclude, once again, by saying that I love being an indie author.

Indie Authors: It’s all about the little victories

Indie authors don’t get excited about huge launch parties or six figure book deals.

Indie authors don’t get excited about a hard-working agent that believes in them and shops their books to all the big publishers.

Indie authors don’t get excited about reviews from the New York Times.

Indie authors don’t get excited about the Oprah Book Club or Bill O’Reilly’s tip of the day.

No, for indie authors it’s the little things that matter most.

Remember the first review you got from someone you didn’t know? When The Kindle Book Review published their review for Beauty Rising, I was floating on air for a day thinking I had arrived.

Remember when the 10th person on Goodreads added your book to their shelf?

Remember when you got your first email from a stranger telling you how much they enjoyed your book?

I have even been fortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of a piece of fan art. I mean, how cool is that?

Life as an indie author is hard. No doubt. That’s why the little victories mean so much. This week I had a little victory of sorts. My first novel, Beauty Rising, which was released 15 months ago just received its 100th rating on Goodreads. I’m thrilled.

No matter how many books I sell the rest of my life, be it two or two million, I vow to always remember the little things which are, in fact, not little at all.

I will always appreciate any reader who takes their precious time to read my book when there are millions of other choices. I wall always be grateful for someone who goes out of their way to write a review. I’m sure there are better things to do with their time. It’ means so much!

I will cherish the little victories because it is moments like this that make life worth it all.

You can have your six figure book deal. I’m thrilled to have my 100th rating on Goodreads.

Are you finding time to write?

Today is one of those days I just want to create.

I’ve been working and promoting and directing drama and doing everything else in the world I usually do except doing the one thing I really want to do: write.

Indie writers have seasons. I know that. There are always competing demands to juggle. But sometimes, the mind just wants to take off and create.

So that’s what I did this afternoon. A phrase ripped through my head and I thought it would be an excellent start to one of those short dramas I love to write. So I went to one of my stomping grounds to let it come out. It did. It’s not finished, not by any means, but I have written about half of it and now there are many possibilities staring me in the face which weren’t there just an hour ago.

That’s what I love about creative writing. The directions which one can take are endless. I started writing this short play thinking it would be serious drama, but then I got to one part which was just funny, and so I thought, perhaps, a meaningful comedy would be fun. And now over the next few months, I can ponder the possibilities and eventually decide which direction to take. No rules. No boundaries. No one forcing me to say this or that. It’s mine to write and re-write and write again until its exactly the way I want it.

And I have a feeling. Sometime in 2014, somebody will be performing this dramatic sketch in front of a live audience. Can’t get much better than that.

Certainly better than working. Better than promoting. Finally a day to do what I was meant to do: Write.

What are Traditional Publishers doing to Promote their Talent?

Every once in a while, I like to look at books or authors on-line and try to determine what marketing and promotion approach that they are taking.  I like to see how well their books are selling and try to guess why they have or have not been successful.

I came across an author I was not familiar with who just released his third novel a few months ago via Penguin.  He previously had a hit book (or at least semi-successful) with a different publisher, so I was curious how he was doing with his new gig.

His new novel has been out for 4+ months, it has only 3 reviews on Amazon, it’s sales on Amazon are dismal and its Kindle selling price is over $12 per ebook.

Am I missing something here?

What actually is Penguin doing for this author? Are they even promoting the book at all? What’s the point of signing someone on and then not putting all one’s resources behind the book launch. Shouldn’t a traditional publisher have all the where-withal to get the word out and sell books?

Like I said, am I missing something?  Perhaps I am. Maybe they don’t want to sell books through Amazon?

Actually, seeing what is happening to this author makes me proud to be an indie author. I get the fruits of my labor – however big or small that may be. I get as much out of it as I put into it. The options are limitless, the rights are all mine as are the decisions of when to release, what to release, and at what price point.

I’m not talking down the traditional publishers. They have their own way of doing business and they make money how they want to.

But at the moment, I’m glad to be independent. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ever listen to any offer if a traditional publisher came by. What’s the harm in listening, right?

But I’m happy to move forward doing things my own way.

Go indie!

Decisions. Decisions. The Joy of Writing Time.

I’ve said this a lot, and I’ll say it again. Writing is all about making decisions. Good writing is about making the right decisions.

I’ve been faced with a lot of decisions these last few days as part two of novel three takes shape.  It’s been so much fun to see where the writing will take me.

For example, today I left a foursome on the side of a mountain road ready to be ambushed by a trio of rogue French soldiers. Oh yes, it’s exciting. I can’t wait to get back at it to see what is going to happen. In some ways, I feel like I’m a reader, discovering the journey that lay ahead, unable to see the end or the weaves and turns which will undoubtedly take place.

Fun stuff.

The problem is, what if I make a wrong decision? Perhaps in writing there are no wrong decisions. But certainly some decisions are better than others.

My problem as a writer is that I sometimes want to get to the end so quickly that I don’t enjoy all the twists and turns of the ride. On my third novel journey, I feel like I’m finally trying to purposefully slow it down a little. Adding in more detail. The other day, I said, “Rats, I need to add another chapter here. I’m sure readers will appreciate it.” And so I did. And yes, it made it better.

So, I guess I just wanted to check in today and say that writing is going splendidly. I’ll be back at it again tomorrow. Same time. Same place with the same new decisions to make.

I love summer!

Couldn’t Ask for Anything More.

A recent review of my novel “Beauty Rising” started like this:

“Prior to Beauty Rising I was completely unfamiliar with Mark Sasse’s work.
You can bet I’ll be reading everything of his I can get my hands on now.”

Wow! That’s amazing and exactly what I need if I am to build readership. Even better, the reviewer explained how she came across my book.

“This book was not one I would have normally chosen for myself, but I got it on the recommendation of a friend.”

This is where it happens – on a personal level. One person enjoying a book and spreading the word to someone else. I never would have reached this reader on my own, but through this recommendation, she found a book which she “loved”.

This is very humbling, and exactly what a new indie author needs. Word of mouth.

So, if you have read my book, enjoyed it, and recommended it to another, I can’t thank you enough.

Goodreads + Amazon = ? Hmmm …

I’m sure you’ve heard the news that the behemoth of a retailer Amazon.com is acquiring book-loving, social media site Goodreads.  There are lots of opinions out there as to what this will mean in the long run. My only concern is what it will mean for an indie author like myself.

I have no idea. But my first thoughts is that it can only be good for me.

Imagine having a fluid connection between a book recommendation and a one-click Kindle download. I’m especially interested in what it will mean for Goodreads advertising. I’m currently running ads for my novel Beauty Rising on Goodreads. It has been somewhat successful. I’ve had a good amount of views and a bunch of clicks that have led to a few sales. Right now, Goodreads recommends that an ad’s link circle back into the Goodreads’ book page instead of an external link. Their reasoning is that by having interested readers go to the book’s page on Goodreads, it will then lead the person to click the ‘to read’ button which will have a multiplier advertising effect as their actions, concerning my book, will show up in their friends’ feed, further promoting my book.

I understand their logic, but I have wondered if it has stopped people from buying my book because it’s not set up to go to a page where they can actually purchase it. Perhaps a reader thinks it looks interesting, they click the ‘to read’ button, but then my novel gets buried underneath the other hundred books that they haven’t read yet.

Now let’s enter Amazon into that equation. A potential reader clicks on my Goodreads ad and goes to the book’s page on the site. Sitting right on that page is a ‘one-click’ purchase button for an easy Kindle download of my book.

Sounds good to me.

Will the marriage drive away some readers for fear that Goodreads’ impartiality and independent minded set-up will be compromised? That remains to be seen.

But I can’t see Amazon doing anything to Goodreads that would jeopardize the positive experience of 16 million Goodreads users because, bottom line, they want to sell books. As many as is possible.

I could be wrong, but I think they are on to something. Here’s one indie author who’s hoping it will be another way to broaden his base readership.