According to my last blog January 2015 was a bit ... hmm, non-affirming. I did mention that I'm not one to give up easily, right? Okay, so now it's February. My book has been released for a couple of weeks. Hold on ... I am going to stray for just a second. For those of you who have followed my story through the processes to get me here, you probably already know that I'm a hairdresser. I live in Seattle, but I travel to Montana every month to do my loyal clients' hair. So, in February ... I loaded up my car with a box full of pretty new books to sign and sell in Montana.
If I had done it properly ... I should have contacted; the local newspaper, the local radio station, and probably the local TV station. I could have set it up as a full on book signing party at a local hot spot. Headline, "local Author doing book signing, today". I think I might fall into that category, Queen of procrastination. I have great ideas and schemes, but then I fall short organizing it together. That great amazing idea fell short. All I did, was tell my clients, "hey, I have a book here if you want." I smack myself, things could have been done differently. Truly, I think I feared that no one would show up. So, I went with the safer bet.
I did sell out of my whole box of books. After my sales in Montana, it brought me even with my expenses of making my book. There are a lot of costs with getting a book done. I went the path of least expense. Between January and February It cost me ... $512.62. Like I said, I went cheap. Cover costs and editing alone could get into the thousands. If you have it ... spend it. Cutting corners in the end could cost you a lot more. Get that professional look, and the professional edit. It could mean the life or death of your book. I wish I had squeezed a little tighter and took a little bigger leap.
I have been neglecting all of my readers. I had to make a trip to Montana last week, and I literally had no time to even peek at my computer. I have made it back home in Washington, and it feels so good to be sleeping in my own bed again. I have a ton of work to get done though, now that I'm back. I have a few books that need to be polished up and put in to your hands. I also, have some more of my publishing journey to share. So, I will do a little sharing before I get to work on my novels.
I had hit publish. Now, I am supposed to see tons of books selling, right? HA. Not right. I had announced to friends and family that my book had become available and I did receive a few sells. To be exact ... I sold 8 books via Amazon.com and 4 via Kindle (for the month of January). Not the exact numbers I had wished for. When I started this little project, I had told myself that I would be grateful if I could sell 100 books in a years time. So, 12 books was at least something, but I was still a bit disappointed. After all, my book was going to be a best-seller. The realization of my book being lost in the sea of hundreds-of-thousands of other books hit home. I am a no-name Author. I have no other published works, and I have a long, long journey for my name to actually come alive.
How the heck do you get your book in the limelight? I'm still working on that, but I know a lot more about this industry now than I did when I first started. So, maybe with giving and sharing my experiences we can grow together.
Advertising ... After my book was first released, I set up a Facebook page for me ; A personal page and an Author page. I knew I had to be more involved with social media. I am not the greatest with social media, but I try. The world has changed and if you're not up with the scene then trying to forge a name for yourself will be almost impossible. I had no idea how advertising worked on Facebook. I thought the only way you did ads was to just hit that button that says... boost this post. So, in January that's what I did. I had announced my book release and boosted the post, that way everyone could see my book release. Honestly, I don't think that it helped in sales, however, getting people to see your name is a plus. I spent five dollars on that first boost. My book sales were still low.
I researched how to get my book sold and I read that I needed to set up a website and blog. Blog, blog, blog. I had no interest in blogging. Why would anyone want to read me babbling about nonsense? I created the website. I did figure at least that one was important. I set up a twitter account. I was all set ... Facebook ... check, Twitter ... check, Website ... check. Now what?
February was a new month ...
It's already August! Where does the time go? I have been trying to recap my writing experience and trying to remember back to January is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I promised you a journey though, and I am going to give it to you the best I can remember.
Okay, last blog entry I talked about my failed Kickstarter. That did not stop me by the way. It was just a little bump. I'm sure there will be many to follow. So, after my bump ... I went on to Createspace and created a profile. For those of you who don't know about Createspace, it is a great site for the technically challenged (I fit right into that category). They go through all of the steps; load your text file, load or create your own book cover, pick your number for your pricing and then they can help with getting your file over to Kindle. You do have to have an account set up for both. Createspace is the company that is doing your print copies ... so now its available at Amazon.com in print. Kindle is the electronic file that people can download on their devices. I would like to add, I knew none of this - absolutely zilch. Until, I just started digging around and doing a little research. The world wide web has so many sites that are offering up advice ... not all good, not all bad. The way I am learning is by taking pieces from others' experiences and rolling with it. There are a lot of Indie Authors out there, and a lot of them are giving advice. I guess I'm not really trying to give advice. That would be like, 'The blind leading the blind'. However, I am giving you the dirty facts of what I have done on my own personal writing journey.
My first copy of my paperback book arrives!! My heart flutters rapidly. I am so excited I could jump right out of my skin. This copy of course is to make sure everything looks okay. In my experience, a few things popped out immediately. The cover looked like it needed to be tweaked a little. My wording was halfway off the cover. The description on the back was spaced improperly. Easy fixes. Next came the hard part ... proofreading. It's easier to see your mistakes when you have it in book form, but after you have read your own work so many times, your mind plays tricks on you. You might read a sentence a hundred times and there is no "The" in the middle, but you know it's supposed to be there so your brain puts it there... even though it's not. We have to slow down and take the time to read our lines when editing. I grabbed my red pen and marked up my brand new novel. It was very emotional for me. My pretty new book was being desecrated. Yeah, yeah you say. Get on with it. Well, after proofreading, and changing the appropriate places in my file I uploaded it to Createspace again. After a few tries, I felt the book was up to par, and hit publish. It was finally done. Next comes the hard part. Getting visible.
Rewinding to a past post, I remember mentioning my time management skills are horrid. Summer is at full throttle and very distracting. I have had every intention to get up and write every morning, but obviously that hasn't gone exactly as planned. I can tell you that I have made probably twenty-five jars of blackberry jam, applesauce, blackberry cobbler, and apple crisp all from the fruits growing around us. Writing ... hmm, not so much. I need to get my focus on.
I want to leave a bread trail of my writing experience for my personal reference and for those embarking on becoming an author. I had given a little glimpse in my last blog as to when I started writing, but I want to really leave a journal of the whole experience.
Never Again ... and the path I went with it. I had a coach telling me how to write, but I felt like the response time was not fast enough for my pace. I sought out more help from another colleague. I took to heart what both of them were telling me, and tried to polish up my book.
I was probably a little too eager. I wanted my book out. I wanted to watch it soar to the top of the charts. I am a little ambiguous. I thought my novel was perfect and that I had some serious mad writing skills. Reality check! I have a lot of growing still to get my mad skills to the top. That's okay. It's alright to know that I need to sharpen my writing skills. I'm determined. I will put a book in my readers hands that they just can't put down. Until then, we'll travel the path.
January 2015 I have a manuscript in hand. I am ready for the world to see it. Then I get talked into doing a Kickstarter project to help launch the book. I think this route can be a great way to really get some help with costs that you as an Indie writer will have. Publishing, printing, editors, covers, advertising; all of that is your responsibility to cover. It will not just pay for itself, and Kickstarter is one way to help you cover those costs. My expectations for my Kickstarter were probably higher than they should have been. Like I said, I thought everyone would see my work as a masterpiece. I set my goal at 1200.00 dollars, not much right? The average amount people were pledging were between $20-$30. If you divide that by 1200 really that's only 60 pledges, guesstimately. As the days ticked on, I watched my amount grow a little at a time. After thirty days, I only was able to get $800 pledged. Needless to say, my Kickstarter project failed. I was still happy to see that it got that many pledges, but I was still left feeling a bit inadequate.
I think the part that was frustrating for me personally, was how much time and effort I put in to that book. A lot of heart and soul go into a novel. I think so many readers believe that writing a few words down is an easy feat. Let me say ... Hardly! Writing a full size novel took me a year and two months. Daily typing away at my keyboard, I diligently tried to make a piece of entertainment. I still work at it. I love creating stories, but it is not easy. The world is hard to entertain ... everyone is a critic.
After my failed Kickstarter, I created an account through Createspace and started my self-publishing journey. so... write your book, polish it with a professional editor, and then if you decide you need the extra boost of help with your book launch, try Kickstarter. More to come.
Author RJ Heaton
Writing leads to so many endless possibilities. Let's see what worlds we can build today.