My books don’t really sell. Which may (or may not) come as a surprise to anyone reading this. But there probably aren’t many of you either. They certainly don’t sell well straight off, even using pre-order.
Which is mainly because I don’t do enough marketing or selling of them. I know I should, but I’m just incredibly awkward at that kind of thing. I usually start looking at ways to market the book beforehand, but there are so many options, most of which many say don’t work. So eventually I get fed up with the entire process, and get on with some actual work instead.
I know reviews are what I really need, but that runs into the same problems. I get incredibly anxious about approaching reviewers to look at my books. And when I’ve done it in the past it’s not paid off (no responses or reviews from maybe a dozen, with one largish review site closing down to review requests within a week of me sending them the request).
I really need more reviews, but I could seriously spend a day trying to write a request, getting anxious over every word, and still end up with nothing comprehensible. The very thought of trying threatens a panic attack. It’s something to do with writing as myself (blog posts are mildly less disturbing, because I’m sure nobody reads these).
Yet even being aware of this deficiency, I find I’m at a loss for how to address it. It would functionally involve changing who I am. While not necessarily opposed to changing, I also don’t know who I’d need to be. So generally I get stuck in a spiral that I only get out of by ignoring the whole thing and writing.
Whatever the reasons, I don’t sell much. Which bring inevitable wave of self-doubt, and why do I bother spending extra time getting this stuff ready for publication. I’m wallowing in obscurity, and there doesn’t seem any way of dragging myself up out of it.
Not that I feel compelled to stop writing. I’ll do that anyway. It’s just publishing that feels pointless. I want it to be read, but part of me wonders whether I should just give up on releasing any more until my existing work gets noticed.
But there’s the traitorous voice whispering that maybe the next one will be the one that gets noticed (what’s the definition of madness again?), and surely that little extra work to get it ready for publication won’t be so much.
So I’ll continue this pointless cycle, telling myself that the more titles I have out there, the more chance people will find my work, that I’ll build an audience.
The Depression Wall
Not that that thought makes it any easier to get work done when the depression sets in. I’m supposed to be working on breaking the third part of Dwimmerfall (working title). I’ve managed to get the general structure, break it down into chapters, and know what happens to whom in each.
I’m partway through breaking the chapters down, so I’ve got a decent plan of the various story strands. Then publication day hits. Now I’m barely getting anything done. Maybe five minutes of an hour sat working on it I can concentrate on it. Which further frustrates me.
So I may set that aside for a while, and look at finally trying to revise The Paragon Protocols. This was the first novel I ever wrote, but never released. It’s been a decade since I originally wrote it, and seven years since I last looked at it. But I’m sure the general structure still works, and tinkering with existing work, even rewriting everything, I find easier than the pre-writing and first drafting. I have something concrete to tap away at, and can focus on the words rather than the ideas.
Also spinning around my head is the financial cost of this writing experiment. I’m still in an overall deficit at the moment.
The largest expenditures have been the couple of edits I’ve been able to afford. I still look back at them occasionally, to remind myself of the general flaws they highlighted in my work, to ensure I don’t relapse. I could probably do with another edit sometime soon to look for flaws in my current writing style, and consider these worthwhile investments.
Close on that cost is hosting and domain costs for my website – which also hosts this blog. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost. It gets some visits, but I’m not sure whether they lead to sales, or how useful it actually is for visitors.
It’s started me wondering whether I should stop them. My hosting is paid up until 2018, so I won’t be immediately shutting them down. But I am considering moving relevant information from here to free sites, like maybe Facebook. I could probably (I think, having only limited experience with it) use Facebook for storing the blog postings, and maybe additional material from the website. And I already use Twitter for notifications mirroring this blog.
The only thing offhand that could be difficult is the listing of my books. Being able to order them in a more comprehensible arrangement than say the Amazon author page does. (It occurs to me that having the default Buy buttons go to Smashwords rather than Amazon may have been an initial design flaw. Most of my sales have been other than Amazon anyway, but not so many on Smashwords, so I wonder whether that put off casual visitors.)
While I have issues with Facebook and Twitter, I’m just not sure maintaining my own website is really worth it. So that’s another thing on my list to think about, and hopefully take my mind off the depressing sales.
But probably not.