Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WHEN IS IT ABOUT SELLING BOOKS?

One of the writing organizations I belong to had a recent online discussion about “When is it about selling books?”

As authors, we’re often boxed into a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. Too much promo turns readers off; not enough promo doesn’t get the word out about our books and thus adversely impacts sales. And when books don’t sell well, authors don’t get offered new contracts.

Many people outside of publishing have the mistaken impression that by virtue of being published, we authors are rolling in Franklins. If only that were the case! The outside world only reads about the publishing deals scored by celebrities and the occasional really, really big name authors. They think a book contract means an automatic bloated bank account, no matter who you are or what you write. That’s why friends and family are always asking for free books. They believe we wealthy authors can well afford to give away truckloads of our books.

Some writers claim they write for the pure enjoyment of writing. If they didn’t get paid for their writing, they’d still write. This may be true, but if they weren’t getting paid for their writing, they wouldn’t be killing themselves to meet deadlines. They’d write at their own pace.

Others admit that their writing is a business, and they expect to make a decent living at it. Unfortunately, most don’t. I’m juggling three full-time jobs. I have friends who consistently make the NY Times lists and still can’t afford to quit their day jobs. And yet we all continue to write. To meet our deadlines. To angst over our reviews, our print runs, and our sell-thru numbers. To hope and pray for that next contract.

Are we crazy? No. We’re writers.

So here it is the end of November, and in five weeks DEATH BY KILLER MOP DOLL, the second book of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, will be released. As part of my promotional efforts for the release of the book, I’ve scheduled a series of guest blogs throughout January. I hope readers find them entertaining rather than hard sell, but I also hope they’ll buy the book. Is that really too much to ask? I hope not.

Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Death by Killer Mop Doll will be a January 2012 release. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.



21 comments:

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Great overview of your life as author. Before I started this second career of mine (now 52) I thought once published always rich. I was surprised to learn...rarely so. Yet I still left nursing and started the real work of writing for fun.Perhaps one day it will also be for profit. I can hope.

Lois Winston said...

Donna, good luck with your writing. Leaving a career to follow a dream is scary business. I hope you succeed.

Robin Allen said...

Rolling in Franklins. Ha! Dipped in Washingtons is more like it.

I think you do a fine job of promoting your books without overdoing it. Good luck with #2!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Robin!

Shannon Baker said...

At a SinC party recently, a writer I'd just met congratulated me roundly on my Midnight Ink contracts. She thought that meant I could write full time. "You mean they don't pay you to stay home and write?" she asked. Imagine the cake and punch storm as all writers within earshot laughed and snorted.

Patricia said...

Great blog and I love the titles of your books. I get the same thing from people, in a joking way of course, i.e my husband says, "when are you going to sell your books so I can retire?"
If only!
Patti

Pat Dale said...

Thanks, Lois, for posting what a lot of us feel. I have ten books pubbed at the moment with four more due out this coming year, yet I have to hold my nose when I claim expenses on my tax report. And cross my fingers.
Of my four publishers, only one is current on my royalty statements, and that one is a new one. Who knows what I'll receive when it's time for a few Washingtons to flutter my way?
Yet I write. And keep writing, knowing that if I do my best, some kind soul some day will look back at the late Pat Dale and say, now there was an author. LOL
PD

Lois Winston said...

Shannon, you'd think a SinC member would know a little more about the reality of the writer's life. Maybe she was a very new member?

Patricia, my husband asks a similar question all the time, and he constantly asks when the next royalty check is due. Not that we could ever retire on my royalties unless the writing gods plucked me out of the crowd and handed me the Golden Ticket.

Pat, I hope people will be saying those things while you're still around to enjoy them!

Cindy Sample said...

Great post, Lois. I tell everyone I'm paid in smiles, not dollars. I'm hoping to work up to getting paid in chocolate!

I wish you much luck with the new release.

Darrell James said...

I'm still hoping for the "big bucks", but getting paid in chocolate, Cindy? Hmmm....

Kathleen Ernst said...

I support myself as a writer, and I work about 16 hours a day, usually 7 days a week. Glamorous it ain't, but I can't imagine doing anything else. Good luck with the blog tour!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Cindy, Darrell and Kathleen. As much as I love chocolate, I'm not sure my waistline could afford payment in that type of currency!

Beth Groundwater said...

THREE full-time jobs??!!?? How do you do it, Lois?

And like Cindy, I like the idea of getting paid in chocolate--dark chocolate, that is. I'd still like $ for most of my royalties & advances, but chocolate for some of them (large-print sales, maybe?) would be scrumptious!

Lois Winston said...

Beth, it helps to have a type A personality and suffer from insomnia.

Karen Cote said...

Far from promoting yourself Lois, your blogs are ALWAYS informative to readers and writers alike.

I truly appreciate the info I pick up from you. I suppose that teacher in you never stops and whereas you may not be getting rich from writing books, you are enriching lives with each post. That's a Best Seller beyond dollar value.

Thank you for all the encouragement and guidance you give.

Jess Lourey said...

Definitely not too much to ask, Lois. You keep writing, we'll keep reading. (from our van, down by the river, which is all we as writers can afford to live in)

Anne K. Albert said...

Great post, Lois.

Marketing our books is time consuming, yet really how much is too much? In the grand scheme of things, with all the blogs and bloggers and authors out there, one has to wonder if what we do even makes a cyber ripple!

Btw, I'm looking forward to hosting you on January 4. See you then.

Lois Winston said...

Karen, thanks so much for saying such nice things. I'm so glad you find my blog posts informative.

Jess, winding up living in a van down by the river is one of my greatest fears!

Anne, looking forward to Jan. 4th. Thanks for stopping by.

jeff7salter said...

You hit the nail right on the head. Or you smacked us writers right between the eyes. Whichever. The point is: nobody who does NOT write can possibly understand what cranks around inside us.
Thank goodness for fellow writers who we can vent with and, when necessary, console.

Vicki Doudera said...

Good post, Lois! Funny to hear we all experience the same sorts of things...How many times do you have to bite your tongue when someone says, "I LOVED your mystery! I'm passing it around to all my friends!" and you want to say, "Can't your friends fork out the $15 and buy their own copies?" Ah, well. Luckily there are intrinsic rewards...(maybe that will be my next post...)

Mollie Cox Bryan said...

What a great post, Lois. I get the same feeling from people--that they think I've got load of money because I've written a few books. And I've taken some heat from self-promoting. I wonder if any other professions do? Like accountants, or hair stylists, or lawyers. Last I checked, they have to promote, too.