Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching Up

My last post was just as 2014 was ending and 2015 breaking into being - a year full of endless possibilities for a burgeoning writer such as myself. As midnight rolled around, in-between wine, games, and laughter with my friends and family, questions rolled through my brain. 

How to make more sales? How to market effectively? When to have time to finish putting my books on Audible? When to have time to finish the 4 books I wanted to publish in 2015? Will the comic be finished on time? Which book festivals should I try and enter? Which events? Why isn't there an indie author event in my town? And my show - at long last, performing and writing at the same time, all while keeping my day job(s). How will that work?

I've been absent the past two months as I've grappled with all of those questions, right up front at the beginning of the year. In that time, I've learned more about online marketing than I did the entirety of last year, including how to promote with free books and garner more reviews. There's so much more to learn, but my sales have gradually begun to increase - who knew free promos would boost my sales??!? I also created a calendar of events that I want to attend for the year, with a focus on literary and indie events. Something important I learned from the flurry of events I attended is that general genre events (like Superhero Day) or even comic cons don't always garner sales in the form of people looking for books. In my town's biggest comic con event, I only sold 14 books over 4 days, something I've done in a single night at other venues. Which taught me quite a bit about what different people value and how I can open myself to those who want books (in the genres I write in). I also started working on getting my first book onto Audible, doing the recording myself (I'm a performer, after all), and found I loved it! And found it is very easy to push back finishing it, as the deadline is so soft it's almost not there. And the burn-out - I'm not pushing myself as hard to finish the next book - mostly because it's been finished and edited and only needs a little work. Instead, I found myself in a random conversation with a local indie comic shop owner, and now I'm one of a small group organizing the first indie book fest in our town. And to my gratitude and surprise, we've had a huge response from authors - far more than I ever envisioned, proving I wasn't the only lonely indie writer dreaming of a venue nearby just for me... And performing AND writing? Exhausting. As I knew. I definitely have learned to plan very carefully for events and shows and finishing books, because doing all three at once (along with my day jobs) is a recipe for burn-out. And then there's the comic - my beautiful, hilarious, goofy-gory story colored in vivid panel after vivid panel, rendered into being by my amazing artist. I've learned there's a huge market for digital comics, and weighed the costs of printing, paperweight, LMZ compression, and the difference between RPG and CYMK.  I was also invited to be on a panel for women comic artists and writers - the invite a first for me in my solo work - and hope to encourage other women writers to tell great stories. Finally, I learned how to request reviews, and have gotten some beautiful responses to my writing from perfect strangers that helped me in some of my darkest, doubt-filled moments.

But the hardest lesson - the one I didn't want to believe - was that my large group of friends and family are NOT the people who I should market to. They're not buying my books, nor should I expect them to. Instead, it is the countless unknown readers out there that should be my true target - the ones that will sustain my career and keep me motivated.

So to catch up, I will say that the last few months have been quite eventful, and I'm looking forward to see what the rest of the year holds. In the meantime, look for my comic ANY DAY NOW and my next book SAND: THE WAY OUT in April (or read an excerpt in A PEEK INSIDE on Amazon). 

And to all my fellow writers - never stop growing and developing your craft.