This year I’ve learned some hard lessons about publishing, book promotion, and blogging. I’ve honed in on my problems and come up with some solutions for 2019.
PROBLEM: My novel isn’t going crazy viral
A blog is not the best promotion vehicle for a novel (even if I write a dozen novel-centric articles). Most of my readers come for writing advice or nerd culture commentary. My book He Has Many Names delves deep into both of those themes, but it’s billed as fiction. I have a pretty good following but my novel-centric posts get the least amount of engagement. I think that might be because readers see them as a kind of Sponsored Content.
That and shifting my blog from squeaky-clean writing advice to horror-centric content means I’ve had to rebuild my following.
SOLUTION: Consider the audience
There’s a way for writers to get more eyes on their page without resorting to click-bait-meme-dump-listicles.
As much as I love sharing short stories, satire, and monster dating profiles, I need to offer something useful too.
I want to get back into giving writing advice, but in a way that differs from what I’ve done before. My new criteria will ask the following questions:
- Can I offer technical insight into the subject rather than simply define it in my own words?
- Can I approach the subject within a three act story so that it’s more memorable for readers?
- Can I draw from my personal failures to better inform new writers?
- Will the subject spark a debate or is it too safe?
PROBLEM: Winter’s impact on my creativity
Every year Minnesota winters beat the shit out of me emotionally. It gets dark at 4pm and cabin fever can get nauseating. Yet, every summer I forget the toll the cold takes and I assume my creative energy will power through the seasons. I’m always surprised when it doesn’t. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is not the definition of insanity (that’s more of a stock phrase for hack writers on TV). Still, it feels like in this instance it applies to me.
SOLUTION: Schedule posts out in advance
Smart bloggers write a ton of evergreen content (timeless articles) that they tease out throughout the year. They schedule posts and social media links months in advance. This gives them a buffer to chime in on current events or the latest pop culture conversation.
Smart Internet personalities spend this extra time introducing themselves to strangers via guest blogs, podcast appearances, and public readings.
This winter I’ve had the energy to just post links on Reddit. Next year I’ve got to do better than that.
PROBLEM: The holidays are a horrible time to promote a book
It’s easy to fill a spreadsheet with book promotion strategies. It’s hard to implement them when you work customer service through the holiday season.
Right now I work for a company who would very much like their acronym to stand for: United Problem Solvers, even though they deliver packages.
As Amazon rises to utter world domination the holiday seasons has become overwhelming. People with boxes up to their eyeballs line up out our door and at the front counter they haggle over every dollar. In the back parcels are stacked through the ceiling tiles, and at the packing table the staff are multitasking through their meals.
I come home, take a moment to pet my cat, and wake up on the floor a few hours later. I’m drained, no fun to be around, and in no condition to reach out to podcasters to talk about my fiction.
My book He Has Many Names is a horror story, which is why my publisher (Clash Books) released it around Halloween. Anticipating the promotion cycle I tried to dial my work schedule back, then three people quit and suddenly I was senior staff.
Suddenly every customer shouting, “What do you mean I have to pay for packaging? Amazon said it would be free.” Are syphoning my book promotion energy away from me.
SOLUTION: Honestly, I’m still looking for one
An author at my level has to be their own agent, their own influencer, and their own street team. They have to pull double shifts daily. I have to anticipate crunch cycles if I’m ever to master my work/writing balance.
I think this means I need to take a more active role in scheduling around my creative energy. That means focusing on simple attainable goals for the remainder of the winter and big lofty goals for the spring and the summer.
PROBLEM: My creative career feels like it’s running in place
It’s harder to vie for readers’ attention than ever before. They have the collected history of mass media in their pockets now. Genre authors have to scratch a very particular itch. For years it’s felt like each new endeavor was just another scheme. That needs to change.
SOLUTION:Devout more time to the planning stage
I used to be so afraid of writer’s block that I wouldn’t take time to think about promotion. I was afraid the well of inspiration would run dry if I stopped pumping. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and the ideas haven’t faded. I need to assure myself that the stories will still be there if I pause long enough to sell them.
I need to submit to more themed collections, put more unpublished offerings on Amazon, and offer more incentives for readers willing to review them.
Getting a writing career going is like trying to become a professional lottery winner. The odds aren’t in anyone’s favor.
That’s why my New Years Resolutions are short-term incremental goals.
What are your writing resolutions? Anything on my list make yours? Anything on your list that ought to be on mine? Let me know in the comments.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?