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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Monday, February 24, 2014

what do I want?

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half at a small local bookstore to do a book signing. One person bought a book. I realized afterward that my attitude about these sorts of things has been very negative. Was I the cause of no one stopping by my little table to at least ask me about the books? I don't know.

In all honesty hardly anyone came into the bookstore while I was there. And the e-mailed newsletter sent to those few people I actually know in Tucson did not bear fruit. As usual the marketing piece of being an author elude's me. When I speak to friends and relatives they make sympathetic sounds when I mention my lack of sales. And I wonder what goes through their minds. I figure it's something like this:
How can she be so blase` about her lack of success? Deep down she must feel like such a failure. And why doesn't she find someone to help if she can't do it herself? I couldn't  keep writing if my books didn't sell better than that. I mean, what would be the point?

Writing is the point. And putting the books out in the marketplace. I did notice a certain nasty attitude coming from some part of me before I left for Mostly Books. You know that critical little voice that wants to keep you down? I figured that the voice was there to keep me from having any expectations. And on the way I said to my husband, "I wouldn't do well with success." How's that for a self-fulfilling prophecy? Unfortunately it's true. I would hate to be surrounded with people wanting me to sign their books, or asking all sorts of questions about my process and so on...one or two are fine, but a clamoring crowd? Not for this introvert. But then I think of Van Morrison and how for years he played his music with his back turned to the audience. Eventually he got over his shyness. So, you ask, what do you want?

I want to be successful in the sense that thousands of my books are purchased. E-book or paper, it doesn't matter. I want a fan base--people that love my books and discuss them online. I want some movie producer to notice what great movies they'd make and contact me to do a contract. I want a publisher to pick them up. In short I want my success to be an arm's length away.

I write because I love to write. I think my writing is good and that my stories are compelling. Because I have a somewhat quirky outlook on the world, they may not appeal to the general masses. They tend to have convoluted plots and several pov's and one or more moral dilemmas that raise issues important to me as a human being.

I am now questioning the power of positive thinking. Spiritually, what is the proper attitude? Do I imagine my books flying off the shelf? Do I let my expectations run wild? I think I try to avoid disappointment, hence the bad attitude. But how much can I expect? I'm going to be selling books at the Book Festival in the middle of March. My spiritual self would like to keep a neutral attitude of 'whatever happens is fine', and look at the whole thing as an exercise in meditation. But deep down I want people to enjoy my books. And I want to be recognized. The success I want does not come from monetary gain--although that would definitely be a plus.  I do want success--just on my own terms.


  1. Nikki,
    You sold one book in an hour and a half. How many books would you have to sell in that time period for your post to be the opposite of the one above? I'll guess: ten. Therefore, you were 10% successful. Sounds good to me!

    Seriously, Nikki, both of us joined the self-publishing roller coaster about the same time. You've written more books than I, and that makes your chances better than mine, but that doesn't cut down the task of competing with 27 million other books on the market. Maybe it's time for us both to haul out that old query letter, refine it, and line up select literary agents and publishers and go after them, just like you go out into the live market and see if bookstores and other stores would like to help you. In other words, don't turn your back on traditional publishing.

    1. been there done that, Dane. even if they picked up my books I would still have the 27 million books to compete with...and honestly, it isn't why I'm doing it--I just can't stop writing and am hoping there is actually an audience out there who likes my books!!!