Last year, the green-eyed monster almost did me in. For the first time, I looked up from my keyboard and my stories to see my peers reach their goals in the marketing side of things before I even knew what those marketing goals were – you know, that side that is the most visible to the world. Sure, I’d written many stories and published three books and countless short stories, but the absence of high sales numbers and rankings and orange stickers saying any one of those books was a bestseller in the world’s biggest book marketplace was a huge blow to my fragile ego.
Social proof was not my friend in those early months of 2016 and I froze like a deer in the headlights. I tried to do everything they were doing, catching up with marketing, book promotion and whatever else landed in my line of vision. When overwhelm hit, followed by a lack of results, depression hit and the stories I wrote reflected that. None of them made it to the finish line, every one of them set aside so I could do something else and show proof that I wasn’t just pretending to be an author.
Well, that didn’t work either.
But somehow, somewhere along the way, I picked myself and started writing again. For real. This time, my goal was to finish one book the way I’d finish two, three or four books the years before without batting an eye. I was not going to let 2016 take me down without publishing one book – and not just any book, but a good book at that.
And I did.
And now 2016 is over. It’s done and dusted. It ended on a high note as far as social proof went, but it was still bittersweet. Bittersweet because it came at the cost of my writer’s naïveté, believing that I could always write what I loved and that readers would follow.
But with 2016’s departure comes wisdom, too. I don’t have to give up my art to write to market. I can still keep doing art but this time balance it with something else: marketing savvy. An advertising budget. A marketing plan. A smart head to go with that creative heart.
It’s adapting to the world before it leaves me behind. It’s growth.
So for 2017, here’s to growth and adapting. Let’s roll with the punches, and welcome the changes. Let’s listen and stop comparing, do and stop whining. Lift your head up from your keyboard and your stories and see what’s going on outside your writerly bubble.
Build your newsletter.
Write more stories. Write short ones to give away.
Master writing ad copy. Imagine listening to that guy announcer who narrates every trailer you’ve ever seen in the theater. Imagine he’s telling your story. Learn how to break it down into fifteen seconds (no, that 30-second pitch doesn’t work anymore), or in 140 characters.
Don’t pay for reviews. Learn how to market and promote. Learn how to engage through your newsletter/mailing list.
Make friends. Gather your tribe, even if it’s online.
Read books. And read even more. Don’t be a snob about it; just read.
Be happy for other authors’ success. Retweet, share, reblog their promos. It doesn’t hurt; believe me.
Take courses if you have to but make sure the source is credible. If they say they’re a bestselling author, investigate some more. Five hundred bucks and more for a course is steep when you learn that many Facebook groups have all that information – for free.
Believe in yourself.
And believe some more.