Decisions, Decisions…Maybe I Should Just Flip a Coin!

I grew up on a farm, and I’d love to live on one again–with more animals than people around, no kids hitting my front door with their soccer ball, no noisy neighbors, little traffic. But apartment living is much more practical at this point in my life for a number of reasons–for one, I can’t drive. Intractable epilepsy makes having a driver’s license impossible, along with a number of other activities most people take for granted. Two, arthritis–not only can I not drive, most days I find walking requires a monumental effort. You should see me trying to get off my couch! A small place, easy to keep up with on the cleaning front, makes much more sense. So while I yearn for the solitude of farm life and a good place to set up a telescope and do some serious stargazing, I settle for noisy neighbors and the frequent wail of police sirens. I’m a little fed up with people coming in while we’re not home, though. Collin and I both work at home, so we’re here 95% of the time. Can’t they come while we’re here? The day we came home to find our shoe rack rearranged and a strange device on the wall behind our TV, we bought a security camera so we could see what’s going on in here while we’re out. (It’s cool. We can watch what’s happening at home from Collin’s phone.)

As I grow older, it’s also more difficult to read. Cataracts and glaucoma are a nasty combination. Fortunately, my current favorite authors, Janet Evanovich and Jim Butcher, are available through Audible. These days, though, I find myself choosing nonfiction more often than not. Go figure. Ten years ago, it was all fiction all the time–or almost all the time, anyway. I usually steer clear of my publisher’s Facebook page these days, as most of the authors there are looking for reviews–you know, “I’ll review yours if you review mine.” With my vision problems, it would take so long to read just one book for review, I don’t volunteer, and I don’t ask for reviews. Wouldn’t be fair to ask if I can’t reciprocate.

I have the same ambivalence as a writer. The ideas are there. The motivation isn’t. I can write something funny and it comes as easily as breathing. Mysteries and romance, not so much. What once came effortlessly is now a daily struggle. Eventually, I’ll finish something.

Eventually. Maybe.


I hate doing promotion and marketing, though. That’s one of the few things I miss about traditional publishing–they did all of that for me. I refuse to do it now, even if it means lower sales. No offense to my fellow authors, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds the tsunami of Buy My Book posts on social media annoying. There’s promotion, and then there’s taking it way too far. Authors are fast replacing proud new parents and grandparents armed with baby photos as the people everyone goes out of their way to avoid. (Have any of you ever seen the episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy and Ricky are at odds with Fred and Ethel over Ricky’s nightly showings of his home movies? I don’t want people throwing rocks at me.)

I know self-promotion is a necessary evil for authors trying to build their careers, whether they’re self, indie or traditionally published (unless, in the latter case, they’re lucky enough to be in one of the top spots on a Big Five publisher’s list and the recipient of a portion of their publisher’s promotional budget). It’s not easy. I’ve known talented authors who would rather give up writing than have to do their own marketing. Some of them actually have.

Whatever happened to word-of-mouth being the best sales tool? I guess I’ll find out….

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8 responses

  1. I don’t get annoyed by buy-my-book posts — I do them myself, after all. But like most writers, I haven’t the time or the money to read a lot of other books, so mostly I just pass them by.

  2. Mark: Have the Buy My Book posts helped sales?

    Most of the comments were made on my other blog (http://www.thethreersrantsravesandoccasionalreflections.com/2017/04/decisions-decisionsmaybe-i-should-just.html). I was surprised to find that most authors feel the same way I do. They hate the marketing end of things and don’t find it worth the time.

    I don’t buy many books, either. It cost me more than I care to admit to convert my library to all digital/audio, but beyond that, I refuse to pay more than $2.99 for an ebook. I have a membership at Audible and get one audiobook there each month, and I don’t buy print books at all anymore. With my bad eyesight, I can’t read them anyway.

  3. William: Agreed. I think one has to let readers know the books are available. I post notices when there’s a special promo. But I think constant book posts have a negative effect. Creativia does some excellent marketing, and I’m happy to leave that to them.

  4. Norma, I have no idea if my posts have helped sales (other than a few). Nor do I have any way of knowing if it’s worth the time. What I do know is that I don’t make many sales, and if I want more I have to do something–the publisher sure isn’t going to do it for you, these days. Certainly I have no desire to do marketing, but if I want to get the word out and find readers, I can’t just sit on my hands and hope they stumble onto me … all I can do is try to be interesting and entertaining in my promotional work as much as possible. But, at the same time, I also try to avoid the constant, hourly, overwhelming sales posts that turn many people off–which brings us back to Williams’s comment on moderation.

  5. That’s very true! And not only that, but some of them do the buy my book posting not only every day, but multiple times a day. Definitely annoying, and I would think it would have diminishing returns.

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