Sunday, February 8, 2015

keeping sanity


What does an artist expect to get from their effort? And I don't mean just in terms of money--


this link was in The Dish; so I hope it still works now that Sullivan has ended that blog

Although I have been involved in painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture, I am personally looking at this in regards writing-- specifically mine. I don't do the craft type, where I look at what has sold well and try to put my spin on it-- basically formula writing. My stories, as is the case with most writers, come from within. If my plot structures fit any formula, it's Joseph Campbell's the hero's journey-- which is pretty much about the journey of life.

For me, writing that kind of story is pure pleasure-- no problems with sanity. I love setting up a situation, creating characters, getting a feel for who they are, and then taking them through various experiences to a meaningful climax-- as I see it. Some say that for them, writing is like pulling teeth or sweating blood. It's not for me. I love diving into these fictional characters' lives, becoming involved in their problems, helping them work it all out, and forgetting for a little while my own...

Lost a pregnant ewe who got over onto her back and was unable to get up. Sheep die in an hour or two if they get onto their backs that way. At a certain point, they cannot get up without help. Twelve lambs lost this year with thirty-seven on the ground but will we lose some of them? Two or three ewes left to lamb.

Found a great buyer for last year's lambs. I hate to see them go, but this is as good a set up as possible. We need to sell some cattle; will that buyer come through as he promised? Pineapple Express is giving us the rain we need-- is the creek rising too much? How come my smart phone is eating up its battery in a few hours? Timeout to get passport photos renewed and sent off before ours expires. Is that crown really feeling okay now? Definitely do not turn on the news, it's too depressing; and on it goes. 


All that can be put aside when I am writing a story in an organic way. My stories grow out of their situation and the characters. When writing a rough draft, I am constantly thinking of these people and what comes next. The story swallows my world for the time it takes to get that rough draft. With writing stories this way, I have control and I know it will all work out, which is a lot more than I can say for what happens in the real world.

Marketing books, on the other hand, brings me right back to myself with a thud. I have very little real control, and I constantly have to make choices. If I venture into social media, it's not my characters, it's me. How do I present my books? Do I present them? What should I share of my world? And on it goes.

Amazon is the one creating some of my current angst. Recently I read a link which claimed if you don't put your book in Amazon Select/KU, it will drop into Amazon's black hole. And I know from experience how Amazon helps that happen. In January, I had a book sell seven copies in a short time. Do you know what it did for its rankings? It might as well have sold one. In December a book sold a couple of copies that didn't impact its rankings at all. I emailed Amazon on that one trying to figure out if they had made a mistake. They had not. It's all about their mysterious algorithms dontchaknow.

To be in Select or KU, where Amazon might help my books show up, I would need to pull them from B&N, Kobo, etc. Amazon is as much trying to sell books as they are trying to push out the competition. Yes, it's the way of business, but I don't like it. Staying out of KU may have meant some of my books, one is coming to my mind, suffer. That can't be good either. The other sites do sell, but very few. You can see how my thinking is going round in circles. Which good matters most?

My publisher wants me to give KU a try and because he's my partner in this (not to mention husband), I am going along with it for a book that has been out there for quite awhile and has never sold well-- lately nada

Sky Daughter has been a hard book to promote whether in blurbs or covers. Although I think people would like it if they gave it a try, who am I to know since my taste in romance reading isn't the same as the best sellers. 

So we made the tough decision. It has been pulled from the other sites to be in Select and KU. I have a month to see how it goes and to decide if KU should be how I bring out the first of the Oregon historicals. If I do that with the first one, I think I'd leave it there the required three months, until the second comes out. Pull it, put it into the other sites while the second one goes to KU/Select. That would get repeated until all four of are out. But what if KU actually gets rentals or sales for Sky Daughter and that first Oregon historical? hmmmmmm 

I hate having to think about this... It's trading off what is best for my books with what might be best for selling books in general. Will it be best for even my books? I am going in circles.

Keeping sanity while marketing is not an easy thing-- if the writer cares about getting sales and reviews (getting reviews is even tougher where I am not operating within a clique). I've been reading lately about something called street teams where writers ask some fans to join together to help their books be seen. As part of that, there is a private site, and team members get some freebies as well as closer access to the writer. 

Previously, I had never even heard of the term. Looking it up, I learned that street teams began in the '90s to sell music. It is a buzz word where some think it's the way to go and others feel it doesn't really gain much. 

Do I need a street team? Do I even have the potential to have one? Street teams and beta readers are why some books come out and instantly have fifteen reviews-- in case you didn't know. 

When I see a book like Rose's Gift, which had pretty decent sales (especially for my books recently-- helped along by support from other writers), but has gotten zero reviews, I see why some like having such groups to be sure that does not happen to their books. It's not dishonest because most of those in a street team, maybe all, genuinely like that writer's work.

All these questions, which go in circles, are why for years, I had continued to write new Oregon historicals but held off on publishing. I now feel I should let them go out, give them a chance. It is also possible that to give them their best shot will require them being in the KU, at least to begin. Maybe :). Does it also require a street team? *sigh*

2 comments:

Tabor said...

Marketing is so important. As a reader I get bombarded by all kinds of titles and yet I know there are great books that speak to me buried somewhere while I peruse books that someone else has algorithmically decided I should read. Amazon is scary.

Rain Trueax said...

I get a lot of that also-- emails from Amazon telling me which books I should get or what's on sale. The difference between spamming and alerting can be a tiny one.

The thing I like about marketing though is that it pushes me into areas that are out of my comfort zone. Writing is where I am comfortable and have been doing it all my life. Marketing is new to me and I kind of like the idea of being my age and finding a new challenge that way. Some of which I don't get right and other places I get lucky-- or not ;)