I don’t often write reflective posts. In fact, I don’t really blog at all, because site stats have proven long ago that no one is really listening. This is actually a good thing, because right now I want to discuss something (hold on as I pause here for a minute to try to find the right word)… troubling? No, troubling is not the right word. Maybe…unsatisfying.
There. That’s better. Unsatisfying.
Often times releasing a new book, something that I’ve worked months and months on, day after day, hour after hour, is a wholly unsatisfying experience. I can tell you what I hope to see happen after I release a book. Of course, this is what every author in the world wants to happen once they publish a book. They want to check their sales that first day and see a skyrocketed number. Anything over a thousand sales (for me) would be spectacular. But, you don’t see that. Maybe a few hundred over the course of the day from all retailers is more accurate. How disappointing.
You feel panic. You feel…sad. No celebrating, please. I am trying not to cry. 8 months of hard work. So many re-writes, including more than 35,00 in a week during content edits where I basically had to ignore my baby for 8 hours a day. And what is it for? Some paltry sales. I begin to think of my rent for this house I don’t own and how I can’t afford it like this. I think of the electric bill which was almost $300 this month. We’ve shut off the a/c and are thankful for cooler temperatures this past week.
Doubts creeps in. Well maybe the book isn’t that good. But, no, I think. It is really good. I know it. I can feel it. Just to prove my point, I’ve sent about a hundred copies of the book to readers (something I’ve only done once before, long ago) and while losing all of those potential sales, I did garner reviews. Reviews, I’ve heard, is a great way to sell a new release. When readers come to your new book release page and see that pretty green text with a glowing review on Amazon, readers will snatch up that book quickly; far more so than without that text or with poor reviews littering the page.
What if the sales aren’t coming in? What if reviews haven’t seemed to change a thing?
So, you think back to your advertising plan. After all, it’s not like you just hit “publish” and did nothing else whatsoever to promote your book. You made the first book in the series free and ran a week-long advertising plan using Facebook ads and numerous other advertising websites such as BargainBooksy (a great site!) to bring attention to this series. Well, I have had great success with this free book campaign. I’ve gotten nearly 7,000 free downloads of this book, which is remarkable considering I could not obtain a BookBub ad for this book. BookBub is considered the holy grail of book advertising, in case you don’t know. Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to give away more copies of Take Me without a BookBub ad than with one. Perhaps I won’t try to rely on BB so much in the future.
Now, you may think: 7,000 free books – that’s incredible! It is. And it’s not. You have to remember how us e-reader folks work. We see a book on sale (or free in this case), and we snatch that book up. However, then we go to work and have dinner and hang out with our family and life goes on and in the meantime we snatch up other free/discounted books having long forgotten about T. A. Grey’s title. That free book never gets read.
I do this all the time. I have all kinds of free/discounted books I downloaded on my e-reader that have never even been open. Maybe one day I will get to them. But I doubt it.
All an author can hope for is that a tiny percentage of those 7,000 free downloads will actually open and read the book, and that they will like it so much that they will purchase book 2. And many book 3. And maybe, finally, my new book
. By that point, perhaps 1% of those 7,000 readers will go on to read book 4. I am not good at math, but that would be, what, 70 readers? 70 sales, potentially. 8 months of work. Even longer since my previous book, which released last Halloween. Income is dropping steadily; little money coming in, and I may, if I’m lucky be able to pay rent for 1 month off this profit.
So, what can you do to let romance readers know that “Hey, y’all! I wrote a new book and I’m pretty darn sure y’all will like it if you give it a try! Try reading the first chapter or two! You don’t even have to buy it. Just try it!”? Well… fact is, I don’t know. I’ve been self-publishing since 2011 when this whole she-bang started, and sometimes I feel savvy and in control and at other times I feel like I’m listlessly floating in a very large ocean.
That’s how I feel right now. Like I’m drowning.
There are no real answers. And all of my problems are the very same ones that thousands of authors, bestselling or not, have experienced and will continue to experience for years to come.
So, what I start to do next is ask questions: what’s wrong with the book, why can’t I gain attention to my brand, what can I do better, and so on and so forth. I am a fixer. A problem solver. A strategist. So, I think about it. I’ve come up with some answers, not that I know if they are “correct” at all. Let’s have a look at them:
- No one is really reading paranormal books any more (unless they are bear or dragon related). Rogue Blood is a paranormal, therefore a lack of interest.
- Billionaires, bad boys, & office-contemporary romances are all the rage right now. Although the Blackmoore family in this series are definitely billionaires (or at least disgustingly wealthy) and the setting is definitely contemporary, and maybe some of the heroes could be characterized as “bad boys” — few readers will touch this series or this book. Because it’s listed under the “paranormal” category.
- You could say: “Why, T. A., simply remove the book to a different category, to which I would say no. I will not lie or be deceitful. There are vampires and Were creatures in this book. And perhaps a touch of magic, too!” Paranormal is as paranormal does.
- Bosses. Erotic romances with an office setting are all the rage. But what if I don’t have any of these kinds of books in my backlist? What if I don’t even have an interest in writing these kinds of books? What if I don’t believe in fad writing? Which means, I don’t like to write what everyone else is writing. I don’t like to jump on bandwagons. I never have. Then, that means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.
That means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.
Strangely, every time I have finished a book and I’m preparing to “launch” it, I always get the same jitters. I’m nervous about how readers will feel about it. I’m nervous about being able to sell any copies. I’m nervous that my book will be hated. But now, more than ever, I’m just scared. I feel, at times, like it’s hopeless; that if I don’t write in one of these fads genres, which is so overly saturated, that I will never be able to pop my head above the water again. There is no lucky coin to flip that will make you sell XXX amount of copies in one day. So much of this business is luck or happenstance. I suppose I wish I had more of that mojo right now.
Of course, not everything is a complete downer. As I said before, I am a strategist. A planner. And I do have a plan to rectify my situation.
That plan is to finish writing my Bodyguards for Hire series. There is one book published in it right now: Jace. It’s a fun, sexy romp. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did while writing that book. That on-going series is also shorter in length at around 50,000 words, a far cry from the 100k, plus-length novels of The Untouchables series that few people are reading. Since I have a baby now, which has upturned my previous writing schedule, shorter novels are the way to go, I think. I will be able to finish them sooner.
I can’t be writing one book a year. Even two a year is dismal.
So, what’s my plan? To pimp and write some more hilarious contemporary romances in the Bodyguards for Hire series. Gio (book 2) is set to release November 7th. If I can get it out earlier, I’ll do that. But I am trying to allow plenty of time for editing. Next up after that is Mac (book 3). I would love to have Mac out in December. Time will tell if I’m delusional about how much I can accomplish this year.
I am hoping to see an uptick in sales because of this series. Hopefully, more so than I’ve seen with Rogue Blood. I will very likely go on to write book 4 and book 5 of that series. I am thinking of some sexy twin Russian bodyguards who come to Miami for work. 😉 It will be great.
Will this solve my problems? I don’t know. All I can do is try.