Monday, February 15, 2016

The Day I Said “Enough”

Smack in the middle of last week, I had a major minor breakdown.

I’d been on a mission for a very long time to take in as much as I could about the idea of marketing my books; trying to raise visibility, get the word out. To make a tiny ripple in the vast ocean that is the catalog of available reading material in the world. Thousands and thousands of books are added on Amazon every month… that’s a heck of a lot, with supply far exceeding demand.

So what happened when I tried applying most (but not all; I knew better than to try all) of the recommended marketing practices coming in from all over the interwebz was this: my brain exploded. Or at least it felt like it was going to.

It felt wrong to quote myself (with attribution) in graphics I was making and posting on social media, yet I tried it anyway. Lo and behold, today I wake up to hilarious post on Facebook from Scott Stratten of UnMarketing that had him quoting himself saying you should never quote yourself and post it to social media.

See, I just knew that already.

But I went against my gut and thought ‘heck, I’ll try it. Why not?’

Why not? I know the answer to that now.

Because I will melt my brain and fry my soul and otherwise become a miserable person.

I can’t bear to hook up all my existing media to multiple apps to send out more regurgitated content. 

I don’t schedule tweets because I believe Twitter is a living thing. (And if you think people don’t know that you’re scheduling tweets like commercials when they see you post the same dang thing about your book or blog exactly 8 hours apart around the clock, you’re not thinking straight. They don’t like it. Not unless you're already so famous they'll take whatever content from you they can get. Another story entirely.)

I see people with, how can I say this, modest Twitter followings setting themselves up as experts in the field of promotion and it gives me pause. Why aren’t their audiences bigger, if they’ve got it all figured out? Why aren’t they on the big Bestseller lists (well we all know the answer to that, I’m just saying.) Where is the huge success that the application of all these ‘must do’ marketing tricks should be producing?

Let me say right now that no one’s Twitter following is more modest than mine; but I don’t claim to be a social media or marketing expert, not by any means. And besides, I love my followers. We interact. It's nice. It feels like a little bit of 'home' out there in the big wide world. 

But I digress.

People can’t even give away their work for FREE and get noticed these days. The market is over-saturated like a soggy dish sponge and there’s little to set you apart from your neighbor, who also wrote a paranormal YA shifter mermaid story with an alpha female lead.

EVERYONE is writing (or has written) a book.


It would honestly be less time consuming to walk into a room of people and ask those who haven’t written a book to raise their hands, because if you ask those who have to show themselves they’re going to immediately besiege you with a plea to sign up for their newsletter (hey, for giving away your email address to them, you get a free short story!) or support their Thunderclap campaign.

After four years (Godspeed was initially self-published long about the summer of 2012) I am burned OUT on marketing. 

Does that mean I get to stop doing it? No, of course not, because I still have five books out there that I think deserve as much of a shot to be seen and considered before the person goes on to the next thing as anyone else’s. 

But I’m going to have to think very hard about how I proceed in doing it.

I love making pretty graphics, but I have to give better content than quoting myself and my own work.

I love blogging, but I’m going to be real about it and go back to posting about things that matter to me a lot in addition to just the book stuff. Because I was a blogger before I was a novelist, and non-fiction writing is very dear to my heart. Also, life happens, and maybe something I’m dealing with/have lived through can help someone else out there if I am willing to talk about it from time to time.

So, I finally got off the nauseating merry-go-round as of last week, when my husband came home and found me actually sobbing and babbling incoherently over the idea of joining one more social media platform and announced that it wasn’t worth my health and happiness to keep on the way I’d been going. “Nothing is worth that,” he said, and for once I had to believe that he was right. Because I hated the way I felt, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore.

I’ve learned that some teachers just aren’t the right fit for my needs as a student. They may help thousands of other people with their methods, but that does me no good if I can’t personally benefit from the way that they present their message, because it leaves me feeling bad about myself instead of energized and excited to try something new.

I’m ready to try new ideas, sure. I’m working those graphics and I’m serializing fiction to Wattpad that you can’t get anywhere else and I’m exploring the idea of adding multimedia to that fiction (as Wattpad recently added multimedia capabilities.) I’m still learning, I’m still going to try new things.

I’m just not going to do it feeling like there’s a ton of weight on my shoulders to hurry up and get with a specific program already, lest I be called stupid or lazy, because I am neither.

By this point in my life I know I do not know enough to say I know anything. I’m always going to be learning. But I will choose my teachers carefully, based upon whose methods speak to my soul and motivate me to be my best instead of making me feel like a whipped puppy if I don’t do everything that they say, just so.

I’m me. That’s all I’ve ever been and all I can ever be. And I have to work with that. I have to balance my bad health (physical and otherwise) along with my desires to share that I have five novels out in the world and poetry and art and other things too.

I have to consider my limited eyesight, which I’ve been abusing horribly lately and must stop doing so immediately.

I have to take care of myself before the art, or the art won’t exist. I’m no good for anything if my brain is seizing up like an engine without oil. This is the hand I've been dealt, and there is a great quote on that I want to share...

I have to do the best I can with what's in my hand. End of story.

Everyone has to find their way on this winding, often unkind road we call marketing and promotion; but if you think anyone can do it all, all the time, indefinitely, well, if you can then more power to you. I know that I can’t.

So I’m off the crazy-train, for good. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to market. It just means that I’m not going to let anyone, expert or otherwise, make me feel like an inferior human being if I’m not on Tootsuite or Smackchat or whatever is new this week.

I’m only one person and I’m only human, and I’m a human with ill health and without the resources to hire a team of pros to do the work for me. So that leaves me with one option: doing the best that I can.

And if you don’t think that I am, well, then you don’t know anything about who I am, anyway.

Happy Monday, everyone. Take care of yourself out there. 

The waters are rough, and the life preservers few.