I hope you all had a nice holiday and are looking forward to the New Year. At this time of year, people reflect on the past year and make plans or resolutions about what they would like to change or start. For writers, this usually concerns their output. I know that many of you who read this blog are authors like I am and that most of you are also readers, if not of my books then of different ones.
As I reflected on my writing this past year and those of the years before, I decided to devote this New Year’s blog to issues that concern me and that I believe concern most authors and to ask for feedback from both writers and readers. I created a survey that I will be sending to the subscribers of my author’s newsletter. If you don’t subscribe and would like to take the survey, please fill out the pop-up form on this website or send me a note that you would like me to subscribe you manually. You can unsubscribe afterwards if you prefer.
The reason for the survey is that I’ve been struggling to balance writing with my marketing work. I’ve been writing a long time but have been publishing steadily since 2015. During those three years, I’ve published 6 books, a novella, and 11 short stories. I also have two completed manuscripts and a half-finished novel. As I publish each book, I find that it’s harder to find time to write another because of the time I need to devote to promoting each one. I known I’m not alone facing this quandary. I’ve interviewed other authors on this blog during their book tours and have found that most cite marketing and promotion as their most difficult and time-consuming tasks related to their writing. Even those who publish with a large publisher or who can afford publicists, still need to promote their work.
Today’s book market is flooded with books, but less people are reading. As a librarian, I know there are still avid readers and those who still enjoy print books, but overall, this seems to be changing in a fast-paced and multi-tasking world. How does an author build an audience and stand out from the crowd or even hope to make back part of the money they spend on promotion and their time writing?
I know there are no simple answers. I’ve been lucky to see my books in print and that I’ve received some nice reviews and comments about them. I appreciate all the help and advice from my publisher, Solstice Publishing, and even though I still hope to find an agent and publish with a larger publisher one day to reach a larger audience, I’m glad that I was the given the opportunity to work with such professional people.
Despite the fact that the market is overflowing with books, it’s great that there are so many options to publish. I have friends who self publish and know authors who publish traditionally with large publishers. There are also writers like myself who publish with small, Independent online publishers. These groups all face various challenges.
I use several methods to promote my books. In addition to this blog that also serves as my website, I have a character blog and Facebook character chat group. I’ve appeared on podcasts and guest posted and done interviews on other blogs and on a local TV show. I also have a monthly author newsletter and share my books and author news on Facebook and Twitter. I do all of this in addition to working a full-time job and raising my teenage daughter. How do I fit in writing? It hasn’t been easy, and it’s getting harder — thus the survey to see who I’m reaching and how. What can I cut back without losing my fans?
Like most writers, I don’t write for the money. It would be nice, but it isn’t the main reason. I love to write, but it’s difficult to reach all the people who would enjoy my books. I can’t afford an assistant or publicist. I create all my graphics and content myself and haven’t yet mastered automated tweeting or FB sharing. I don’t have time to be on the computer 24/7 and aren’t young enough to know all the techno tricks and shortcuts.
I haven’t received my December royalty statement yet, but, so far, I’ve made $101.07 in royalties for 2018. That includes my sales from ebooks and paperbacks. That’s only $100 for a year of work, while I’ve spent way more than that on writing association memberships, graphics, book trailers, copies of my own books to sell at author events, free books and Amazon gift cards for contests I’ve sponsored in my newsletter and in other author events, writing supplies, etc. I don’t know what other authors make. However, I’ve read articles that author royalties have declined.
I’d love feedback from other authors as well as readers with any suggestions on changes I can make in 2019 that might increase my readership and help me balance my writing/promoting time. Please also take the survey that will be emailed on January 2 to my newsletter subscribers. Thank you for your support and any advice you can give. It means a lot. Happy New Year!