Happy Shavuot!

My Horny Hump Day post is here.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of every month, and gives participants an opportunity to vent, share struggles and triumphs, and just commiserate in general.

Suffice it to say I’ve been really disappointed to check my sales and discover my recent release hasn’t sold very well at all. I thought I’d have at least 10-20 sales, but apparently I’m not well-known enough, don’t write in a hot, trendy, commercial genre, and failed at generating buzz, marketing myself, and connecting with other bloggers to promote my launch. I just don’t have the connections to get 20-30 people to reveal my cover, help me with a launch party or giveaway, or host me for a virtual book tour.

There are certain bloggers I’ve tried to network with in the writing/book blogosphere, but they’ve never reciprocated my numerous visits and comments. I’ve kind of stopped visiting these blogs so frequently, since they clearly won’t make the effort to network back.

I cancelled a scheduled three-day free promotion, because I was just getting too uncomfortable by what I read about them. I’m not yet in a realistic position to do that successfully, and don’t want to give my hard work away for free. I’m sticking to my guns with pricing it at $4.99, given the length (128,o00 words plus some back matter) and all the research which went into it. Little Ragdoll will be $7.99 as an ebook, since it’s 360,000 words plus the appendices.

I plan to use Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for at least one of my books, so hopefully I’ll pick up more exposure that way.

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Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you don’t always get famous the first time you put yourself out there, as in the case of the record above. It says nothing about your talent or appeal, just that you didn’t market yourself enough, not enough people know about you, or it’s the wrong product at the wrong time. After you make a bigger splash, your new fans will happily go back and buy your début.

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This is probably a moot worry now, given my complete lack of success, but if certain people read Little Ragdoll, I’m sure they’ll be very censor-happy. There’s a strong theme about how the other half lives, and the stark differences between the classes. What’s normal and respectable for a poor or working-class person is considered indecent or shocking for a middle- or upper-class person. As Allen reflects:

….All he knows is the lot of them aren’t the types of people polite society want to be associated with or even acknowledge the existence of.  Young people from their world would never be portrayed in a movie, television show, or book.  The anti-vice societies would jump all over that, as though their real lives are an offense against decency.

It’s not like a book comes with a list of what potentially offensive things happen on what pages. Mrs. Troy uses a number of racial and religious slurs. Ernestine and Deirdre (née Girl) make comments critical about a certain denomination. There are numerous scenes where Mrs. Troy, Allen, and Carlos use drugs, though Allen later quits cold turkey after a huge scare. And of course, the turn Ernestine and Deirdre’s relationship eventually takes.

I’m also worried of what my pro-science, skeptic friends might think if they read it. Homebirth is featured very positively, both on and off the pages, and Gemma, Mrs. Doyle, and Mrs. van Niftrik are very unhappy with the hospital birth experience of the era. But I’d like to think the message is ultimately about choices in childbirth, not a one size fits all model. It’s a condemnation of the horrific, abusive practices of the twilight sleep era, not hospital birth itself. Gemma chooses a hospital for her second birth in 1973, in her second marriage, with more modern, humane drugs, and is very happy about it. Lucine has a drug-free hospital birth in 1972, with her husband in attendance, and is also happy with it.

And of course, it’s extremely anti-Vietnam War, though it’s against the war, not the servicemen. The big plot twist in Part IV is when Ricky is drafted. Why would I depict that war positively when the overwhelming American attitude was against the war, and when I myself agree we had no business over there for so long?

16 thoughts on “IWSG (Poor Sales and Censorship Worries)

  1. I tend to not notice a lot of things and forget others, but I don’t recall you doing cover reveals, book tours, or any promotional activities. I’m always willing to help with promotions on my blogs. If you need any space let me know. I also don’t mind tackling controversial topics at Tossing It Out.

    Lee

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    1. I announced my release date a few months in advance and always mentioned it when I shared excerpts for Weekend Writing Warriors, though I guess merely providing the link to the Amazon page and stating the release date weren’t nearly enough.

      Thanks for offering to help!

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    1. I guess I feel the same away about outright asking people, even friends and acquaintances, to help with promotion as I do about dropping by to visit without notice. From the way I was brought up, it’s just not something I feel comfortable or polite doing. I generally assumed the people with all the bloggers helping with cover reveals and such had an invitation extended instead of outright asking if they could help.

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  2. Being new does making getting sales hard, which is why it’s important to do everything in your power to get your name and your book out there. A blog tour really can do wonders. Collect names of bloggers who prompt authors and books and sent them emails asking for a spot. In my experience, they’re usually happy to help. 🙂

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    1. My fear has been that outright asking someone, even if we’re friends or acquaintances in the blogosphere, would seem pushy and presumptuous, and would create an awkward situation if the person wasn’t interested or didn’t have time. It’s one thing if a person has specifically said s/he’s open and willing to promote other writers, but asking out of the blue isn’t something I’m used to considering polite.

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  3. Marketing is, from what I understand, a non-stop, grueling business. The successful writers I know live and breathe marketing, which blows my mind. Too bad about the writers who don’t reciprocate. If you schedule a blog tour, I’d be happy to have you over at my blog.
    Best of luck.

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    1. Thanks for volunteering! I guess it’s partly the way my brain is wired, partly the way I was brought up to never invite myself over to even a friend’s house without getting an invitation first.

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  4. My first comment is..WHY don’t you have the connections? You write enough here, I get your new posts forwarded to my email all the time. Not involving those who are happy to share and get involved seems counterproductive and only responding to those who respond to you isn’t the way to get any kind of flow.Think party manners. Go out, smile and talk to everyone.

    Having said which, I wasn’t aware that you’d even had a May release. In fact, I’ve just done a quick scroll through your posts back to the beginning of May and nothing says !!!!BOOK RELEASE!!!! with scrolls and bells and Polish Bottle Dancers.

    Why not? You’re not shy. You’re not afraid of being opinionated. You’re happy to talk about you and what you’re doing and what you want. So why is there nothing that says, hey, I’ve written this book about whatever, and it’s here—-> [add link]?

    I have a shared writing blog and I’m happy to support and encourage other writers. That’s why you’re on my email list. If I hadn’t noticed that you’d published, maybe other people haven’t noticed either?

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    1. I announced the release on my May ninth post, where I also revealed the cover (which my artist sent me with just a few days to go). I know not everyone who congratulated me on that post planned to buy the book, but I at least thought my readers who’d said they were looking forward to reading it would’ve done so!

      I can see from the popular links sidebar that some people have at least clicked through to the Amazon link, but there are still only a few sales. I just don’t want to come across like some other writers I’ve encountered who are self-promoting so much it’s off-putting, with almost every Tweet or post about a contest, giveaway, sale, etc.

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      1. Then that’s not enough. I know spamming the novel can be irritating for everyone involved, but you must do more than one single mention and one link. You have to help and guide people to it, because they won’t fall over it by accident. People like reading and like supporting writers they know, but first they have to know them.

        I know it can feel awkward stepping out, and waving your book about, but the flip side of the freedom of self-publishing is we have to be our own self-publicist.

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  5. I’ve heard that the best way to sell more books is to write more. You’ll get there. With all of the books out there, it’s hard to jump up so that you’re seen. Have you tried a blog tour company. If you do, I’d recommend Goddess Fish Promotions. Not necessarily for book sales, but for exposure. No I don’t work with them, I used them once and loved the way they handled me.

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  6. I bought it . . . don’t know when I’ll have the time to read it, but when I do, I’ll leave a review on Amazon for you. Congrats again, and chin up . . . marketing sucks for everyone. Your time will come 🙂

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  7. I’ve participated in several cover reveals, so I’d be happy to do something on yours. Just let me know. I think I’ve noticed the best responses come when someone does a linky and makes a big deal out of it. Post a blog that reads, “Sign up for my cover reveal” and make the blog all about that, with a linky at the bottom. Then, while it’s live, go around and comment as many blogs as you can to make sure people click over and see it…that’s what has gotten me the most participants.

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  8. Hi Carrie-Anne!

    Don’t despair yet. It takes lots of time and the best way to market is to write the next book and put it out. I do recommend a blog tour cuz it’ll expose you to new readers.

    As for the cover reveals, I think the worst thing you can do is not ask. I totally understand feeling weird about it. I was brought up that way too, but in this day and age with such saturated markets, you absolutely have to. Matter of fact, make it easy and have ready-made posts for bloggers. Email them and just ask if they’d mind sharing your book whenever they can fit it in. This shows you’re sensitive to their time. And don’t feel impolite about doing this. Mostly it’s just that we can’t keep up with everything, so don’t take offense if we don’t ask. Authors ask me ALL the time to feature them and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t (mainly if I don’t know them.) But there are SO many bloggers out there that I’m sure you can find some help.
    My book has been out for almost 8 months and I”m still having trouble with visibility. It’s tough for everyone.
    Feel free to send me your cover and blurb and I’d be happy to feature it on my next post. 🙂

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