Monday, December 1, 2014

A Dose of Perspective For The Holidays

I've been thinking a lot about being an author--indie or otherwise--lately.  As authors we are often looking for new ways to market our books in the hopes of reaching Best Seller status, or at least to sell more books than we're currently selling.  There's nothing wrong with that.

This year, for the holidays, I decided to offer up a large dose of perspective for myself and possibly  for those of you who are reading this and in need of some.  You know who you are.  If you're not sure--read on.

 Here's why I'm in need of perspective: My career as an author began back in 2009 with my novel Never Slow Dance With A Zombie (Tor-teen).  The book had a nice bit of success right out of the gate.  It became a Scholastic Book of The Month Club selection with an initial order of 25,000 copies.  It went on to sell many thousands more copies and was nominated for a prestigious ALA Award.  I followed this up with indie published (White Whisker Books) Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel.  Both books were instant Amazon ebook bestsellers, topping the children's-YA ebook list.  The only other author with more than one book in the top 10 at that time was Suzanne Collins with her The Hunger Games trilogy.  I was living the dream. Shortly after, my series was optioned by Hollywood for a TV show or movie.

I was feeling good about myself, but somewhere along the way I lost perspective.  I forgot why I became an author in the first place.  When my next novel, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice (Imajin books) didn't sell well I became distraught.  Then the next book (the third in The Falling Angels Saga)  Heaven Sent, came out of the box like gangbusters and then tapered off. No more 25,000 book initial orders. No more Best Seller list.  And no TV show or movie. I blamed it on my marketing, I blamed it on the market, I blamed it on all the other indie authors who were stealing my eyeballs.  The truth is, there's no blame here.  These things happen.  Some books catch on and others don't.  Some books you think aren't worth the paper (or trilobytes) they're written on become million sellers, and other books you think are worthy (like your own, maybe) struggle to sell 500 copies. Bad mouthing the success of others while bemoaning your lack of success is a trip down misery lane, and one not worth taking.  Don't do it.  It doesn't help.  All you can do is keep writing.

Let's rejoice in the fact that others are having success.  And keep writing.  When I was a salesman and people asked how could I do it, knock on doors day-after-day, I always replied "It's a numbers game.  If I knock on so many doors, I'm going to get in; if I make so many presentations, I'm going to make a sale." What we do is a numbers game as well.  So keep writing, and remember why you started writing in the first place. I started writing because I loved it.  I still do.  I love storytelling and I love sharing my work with an audience no matter how small.  Back in the day, that audience consisted only of my mother, my brother and my friends.  I didn't think 'this audience is too small.' I loved that they enjoyed my stories.  Now, thanks to Amazon, I have readers around the world.  I don't have a million readers, but that's okay.  I'll just write another book, and if I still don't have a million readers, that's okay, too. I'm grateful for the readers I do have, and for the ability to do what I LOVE without a gatekeeper telling me I can't.

I have a new book coming out some time next year, and while I'd love for it to do well, I've stopped worrying about it.  I will market my books as best as I can, and keep writing.  So, this holiday season, as you begin marketing your books for the big Christmas rush, be like me and keep in mind why we started doing this in the first place.  If you're anything like me, you're writing because you love it.  Don't look at what others have and allow it to steal your joy.  Our joy comes from what we do.  While I'm writing this for you to read, I'm writing it for me, too, to look at from time-to-time when I start losing perspective again. I'm going to end this piece with a story written by Aesop.  The Dog And His Shadow

A DOG, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that of another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He immediately let go of his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both: that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and his own, because the stream swept it away.

I wish you happiness and great selling for the holidays.  Don't grasp at shadows. Let's root for everyone's success and not just our own.  And let's keep perspective. I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you have a comment or story you'd like to share with me (success story or not) I'd love to hear it. And most importantly, Keep Writing!

Happy Holidays. Peace.

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