“I don’t see myself as talented. What I excel at is a ridiculous work ethic.”
–attributed to Will Smith
Dates don’t stick in my brain. That’s why I always disliked history classes. The tests seemed to focus on memorization of lots of dates. I was at an instant disadvantage. I would have preferred that the instructors focused on the lessons we can learn from history. If that had been the case, I likely would have majored in history. I love to learn. I hate memorization.
But I digress.
I was saying dates don’t stick in my brain. I can’t remember when I first decided that I would start a writers group. If I were to guess, I would say it was two years ago. About that time, I started attending writing workshops by mystery author Lauren Carr, hosted by different local libraries. In fact, it happened after the first Carr workshop, but before the second. At the second workshop is where I asked for anyone interested to give me his or her contact information.
It took a bit of time to find a meeting place. I had a list of 25 names. I had no idea how many would actually show up. Rose Harris, owner of a local coffee-house in historic Williamsport, MD, was willing to let the group use her back room free of charge two times per month. The local library also had a meeting room, but it was in high demand. The writers group may have to compete for meeting dates. That was no good. Plus, the library felt sterile. The vibe at the Desert Rose Cafe was nurturing, creative, friendly. As an added bonus, “the eats” were good and inexpensive.
It was the vibe that made the decision for me.
Over time the group whittled down to a dozen, then ten regulars. The group was very diverse, from writing styles to personalities to topical interests. Yet we jelled. We shared work by reading aloud. We criticized (in a constructive way) and guided each other in developing our craft. We encouraged and inspired each other.
The restaurant hosted a writing contest, posting short works from the group in the dining room, asking diners to read and vote on a winner.
We all were winners, because, after the contest, we decided to put together the Anthology. We had faith we could create a collection of short works, edit them, compile them, then publish them in a period of about six months.
With the professional assistance and coaching of Acorn Book Services in Harpers Ferry, WV, by December, 2012, the humble writers group–Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe–released its first e-book. The members range in age from 30 to 80-plus and live in a three state area.
One member with Asperger’s Syndrome remarked that the release date of the e-book was one of the greatest days in his life. During the course of writing for the Anthology, he made a decision to move out of his parents’ home and into his own apartment, so he could enroll in college. He is currently working on a solo writing project.
An administrator in the local library system called me a couple of days ago to express her surprise and joy that Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe had achieved its goal. She offered to help arrange publicity for the book through the local newspaper. In turn, I offered to promote the library workshops as wellsprings of creativity. Without the library’s workshop, the Anthology would never have been written.
An idea led to a call to action and resulted in the creation and e-printing of a publication. A young man’s life changed. Others came to see that setting a goal and working on it faithfully yielded results. Several are working on new solo projects.
Dreams do come true.
Without any serious marketing as such, Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe (Hmmmm. Is that singular or plural?) has sold 35 copies of the anthology to date.
And there are two reviews written and posted on Amazon.com. Reading the reviews was exciting. It gave insight and feedback to us on our work.
The sales break down like this:
Amazon.com 34 copies sold
Barnes & Noble 1 copy sold
Several copies have been purchased by the dining patrons of the Desert Rose Cafe. Owner Rose Harris reported there is a lively interest in the book and how the group came to publish it.
Perhaps, in the near future, there will be a “Meet the Writers” event, which may garner a bit of newspaper coverage. That event, or a complimentary newspaper article, may yield a couple of more sales.
What can be done now to sell books?
I have to buckle down and prepare press releases. All of the writers group members need to promote the book on their own social media, blog or web site. This year, I postponed sending out my Christmas letter. I want to write a New Year’s letter and include a promotional blurb in it about the book. Next, I need to put on my thinking cap to figure out other ways to exploit the “local writer” designation.
In sales, they teach you to sell first to family, then to friends or acquaintances, then to neighbors or the local market, then beyond. Until a writer has established himself, the likeliest buyer is someone who knows him or knows of him.
Finally, I need to utilize the “store” component here on WordPress. Obviously, visitors to this site should be able to buy the book.
The lesson in all of this?
Sales don’t magically happen for an author. To sell books, an author has to promote his or her books. That means getting creative so that whatever selling the writer does is effective and affordable.
Writers hate marketing. However, it is a necessary evil, especially for the new author.
Don’t overlook the sales that can be generated by friends or family. Word of mouth is always the best sales tool. A person who reads and likes your book is the most credible advertiser. Ask for help to promote your book.
I would love to hear from other independent authors about the success you’ve had selling your books. Please share the lessons you’ve learned, the mistakes you’ve made or the tactics that have succeeded. In what venue did you sell the majority of your books? Where did things fizzle? What was hard? What worked well?
Talk to me. I am all ears.
On WordPress, I continue to be amazed by the collection of talent. Sometimes an author’s writing floors me with its power, cleverness, raw emotion or beautiful use of language.
I am none of those things. I am a nerd who can correctly string together a series of words. As a writer–as a word artist–I am average.
How then do I expect to compete in the commercial marketplace? The same way an average employee competes in the workplace. By showing up. By giving my best effort. And like a tidal wave, by sheer volume. A dose of self-promotion is important, too. If I don’t market, I won’t sell. (Please don’t stop reading here. The best of this post is yet to come.)
I’ve said this before and I will say it again: throw enough at a wall and something will stick.
Part of succeeding as an average writer is finding my audience. I do that by writing in all the ways that appeal to me–short stories, haiku, flash fiction and novels. (In 2013, I hope to add internet content to the list.) Then I analyze. Of those things I like to write, what are people reading?
I need to look at my statistics. What do statistics tell me about what readers like in my work? Is it my true confessions? Is it self-improvement or how-to articles? Pop culture? Or factual pieces? Humorous stories? The off-the-wall?
Success is finding the match of my abilities with a need in the marketplace.
Ask the reader.
So I am asking you right now. What do you like best about this blog? Why do you stop by? Is there something which you’d like to see more often? Any answer is a helpful one. Silence hurts. So tell me something, anything, that will make this blog a better experience for you. Even if it is what you don’t like. Say, “Fay, dump this. Keep that.” Bring it on. Help me get better.
For me, that’s what it is all about. The best part is serving, helping, pleasing you, the reader.
The next best part is getting good enough to earn a paycheck! But that’s another post for another day. 🙂
Back in May, I read a post on the blog Course of Mirrors called “. . .on awareness. . .” (To read it yourself, click here: http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/thoughts-on-awareness/ )
The central assumption of the article is that there are psychological laws as immutable as scientific ones. Roberto Assagioli, M. D. has included a list in his book The Act of Will. Assagioli and the blogger Course of Mirrors discuss how the mind (through psychology) affects humans, and specificly the writer.
The mind is powerful. That is why I posted several quotes on New Year’s Eve about the power of preparation. If you re-read those quotes before pondering the postulates I present (how’s that for alliteration?), you’ll begin to see the importance of the mental connection.
So, today I want to emphasize the simple mind-body correlation.
Chris Teo, Ph. D. says:
“Philip Parham wrote about two men who contracted tuberculosis around the same time. They both went to the same sanatorium. One went home after eighteen months, fully recovered and healthy. The other man was dead within six months. The disease was the same but the outcome was different. Why? William Osler, a famous American physician said: ‘What happens to a patient with tuberculosis depends more on what he has in his mind than what is in his chest.'”
Dr. Robert Good, a leader of psychoneuroimmunology said:
“A positive attitude and constructive frame of mind all improve our ability to resist infections, allergies, autoimmune disorders and cancers, whereas depression and pessimism decrease our ability to do so.”
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/320854
In the post from Course of Mirrors, the author writes:
Having experienced Feldenkreis work — and practices deriving from it – after doing a gentle physical exercise and repeating it in my imagination only, with eyes closed, the same physical reactions happen in my body. This explains why active imagination can affect mind and body at a deep level and change physical symptoms as well as states of mind.
When I hit my toe, elbow or head on an object, I repeat the exact contact and, in my imagination, send the impact back. There remains hardly any pain and the usual swelling is mild or does not occur at all.
Therapeutically, if a tense or hurtful part of the body is listened to and allowed a voice, the result can be instantaneous, much like when you lower yourself at eye-level to a toddler who has a tantrum, and do nothing else but acknowledge the rage, surprise, surprise, the tantrum stops.
What seems like magic, is actually simple and applies both ways: physical activity influences mood and mind, active imagination influences mood and body.
If researchers, patients and physicians believe that mind set–or use of the mind through thought process or imagination–alone can make a physical difference in our bodies, then we, as writers, should consider how to harness that tool for our work.
Want 2013 to be a good year? Then prepare for it! Make it so!
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
“It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
–Paul “Bear” Bryant
“Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good, and then work to get better.”
“Life is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want.”
“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
I am not witty, clever, critically acclaimed, astute, profound, pithy or any number of other things that brilliant writers are. But I am one thing: I am a doer.
Good grief. I have had this blog up since the last days of February and have penned 170 posts, give or take, since then. I’m nothing if I am not prolific.
So how do I make that work for me? I get myself out there.
I operate on the premise that for every writer there is a reader. Some writers draw hundreds of readers to my one, but the more I make myself available to the reading public, the more likely I am to connect with my one. Then my next one and the next. You get my point.
So how am I do-ing?
I have this blog. The writers group I belong to is publishing its first anthology in the fall. I will be represented in it. A friend and I are working on a joint e-book s-l-o-w-l-y, but we are working on it. My daughter and I are getting ready to launch past the talking stage to the doing stage on a joint venture on a children’s book. And I am, ever so slowly, working on the novel. I accepted T’s challenge to participate in a story circle which got published at http://camerondgarriepy.com/2012/06/28/the-story-circle-the-reunion-part-four/ . (Thank you, Troy and Cameron.)
For once, I am practicing what I preach. (In case you didn’t pick up on it, this is a sermon directed at YOU.) I am not just dreaming about it, I am doing it. You can, too.
There is a saying that remotely resembles my next line: 99% of success is showing up. Show up! Find your one reader. Keep showing up till you have ten readers, then 100 readers. Do it!