Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Number One Key to Selling Books

In all the excitement and bustle of indie publishing and traditional publishing and blog tours and Likes and Tweets and Tumbles Reddits and Pins and pics and promotion oh my … we musn’t forget the first and most important element that will always, always sell books.  And I’m pretty sure I know what it is.Skeptics may disagree. Jaded artists and writers who have faced rejection may say no! you’re not correct.
But I promise it’s correct. The first, and, in the end, the most important element to selling books is the same as it has ever been.

And it is this:

You must write good books.

“But I wrote a good book and it was rejected!”

“But what about 50 Shades???”

“But traditional publishers don’t know good books anymore and readers like cheap easy trash!”

And here’s the part that people forget . . . “good” means different things to different people.  My husband used to rail against the Twilight saga until I pointed out to him that he is not, in fact, the target audience. I write about gryfons and wolves going on epic adventures, coming-of-age dilemmas, and sometimes eating fish. Some people think it’s great. Some people would think it’s ridiculous.

I would never read 50 Shades because it’s Not My Thing.

It doesn’t matter if a book is written badly or has strange subject matter or doesn’t appeal to a traditional audience (whatever that is.) It really doesn’t. As long it doesn’t bore the reader, most readers will forgive anything. I still have five star ratings from people who found typos in a book they paid for (bless your hearts.)  There are some very strange books out there, and they sell.  Why? They wrote good books. Argue all you want, but my philosophy is this:

Someone wanted to write it.  Which means someone, somewhere out there, wants to read it.

I guarantee it.

So write your book.

Make it a good book. Find the people who want to read it.

And you will sell it.  Every time.


The Importance of a Day Job

I know I read an article on the importance of writers keeping a day job, once.  Or maybe it was in one of the many how-to books in my vast writing library. Either way, apparently it’s important, and I agree for a few reasons.

The first and most critical is that it keeps pressure off your writing. Sure it’s fun to think about whiling away the hours as the next J.K. Rowling and writing Anything you want, and taking as Long as you want to do it, but in reality, it’s not necessarily the best scenario, and depending on your writing as a sole source of income will begin to make it feel like–well–work.  You might also not spend as much time writing as you think. My mom had a wonderful saying:

Work expands to fill the time available.

That means, if you have eight hours to do something that normally takes you half an hour, you will take eight hours to do it (or do it in the last half hour, like me 😉 And it’s true, at least for me. If I have an entirely free day to do nothing but write, I probably write and edit for a maximum of three hours.  The rest of the day will be spent making coffee, scrolling Pinterest (DAMN YOU), making chatty Facebook updates to make it LOOK like I’m working, checking email and my Amazon ratings. I Might go outside and plant something. (That’s why National Novel Writing Exists, by the way. The almighty a deadline. But I digress.)

Having a day job makes my writing time more critical and important.

So, reason one: Money.

Reason two: It makes your time Important.

Reason three: Writers need exposure to the world in order to write about the world. Even if you write about a Different World and you don’t even have human characters… your story will have human characteristics, and you must observe them to portray them accurately if you’re going to get anywhere.

Most of the time a day job, even a fun lighthearted one, feels like this.

But sometimes I get to observe a wonderful human moment (and I get paid to do it).  I work in a shop where kids frequent. I write for kids so I watch them, with stalker-ish intensity, as they shop.

I got to observe three boys around the age of eleven come crashing into the store and leave madness and energy and summer in their wake. I picture boys as pretty headstrong and energetic and not dealing too much with emotion and gooey friendship-y things the way girls do.

But one of the boys, tearing down the toy aisle, came to a screeching halt in front of a display of bracelets.

The bracelets were soft rubber like a cancer awareness bracelet or other show-of-support-item, but twice as wide. They were bright purple. In white letters they declared BFF  BFF BFF all the way around. I expected him to make fun of the purple BFF-y gooey friendship bracelet.

But he called to his friends and said, “GUYS! I found something for us!!”

And I stared as they each bought one.

And I had a vision of three best friends (okay, in my world, young gryfons)… an inseparable trio, pledged to all three of each other as wingbrothers… and what adventures they might have.

Not bad for a day job.


Author Interview!

Check it out 😀 An awesome new friend found the book, liked it, reviewed it and wanted an interview!

 

Read it here.


Great Reviews!

This just in!! Fantasy Gazette calls SONG OF THE SUMMER KING  archetypal, epic and magical. Directly from the reviewer:

I recommend Song of the Summer King to middle graders and up and to anyone who is looking for an enthralling animal story that will transport them into another world.

 

Awesome! For those who like to hold a good old fashioned ink and paper book, the hardbacks will be arriving at my doorstep this September. Pre-order now from the main page 😀

Thanks for all the kinds words and support on my decision to give away a few books. “A few” turned out to be over 10,000 copies! I got to see my beautiful cover standing side-by-side with THE HUNGER GAMES for a few hours, and Lord of the Rings, and George R.R. Martin. What a trip.

 

Fair winds!


There’s No Wrong Path

I’m so lucky to be surrounded by a writing community of all ages, experience and skill levels, and points of view.

I’ve gotten lots of advice and encouragement about the marketing, selling and promotion of SOTSK, as well as lots of free help and PR from writing friends.

It will be so fascinating to watch the weekend’s experiment unfold. There are mixed reviews about offering books for free on Amazon. Some say their sales skyrocketed, some say turn back now! Certainly, offering backlist books for free is a great way for an author to draw in new readers, with tasty Samples.

But I have no backlist. SOTSK is my debut. I have shoved it onstage to find a very small audience. So I had to find a way to get more audience members in the door. Why not give a few away? I was nervous. Would it de-value the book? Would it make me look like a desperate indie author? Would it ruin my career?

Step back. The nice thing about this stage in my life is that I have no career. I have one book and two day jobs and a draft for the second book . . . and a handful of readers who want to see that second book, ASAP.

And so far, the only thing that’s happened as a result of my give-away decision: That handful of readers has just gotten a whole lot bigger.

And readers is exactly what I need.

As Neil Gaiman said in his inspiring commencement speech… the gatekeepers are leaving their gates. There are no more rules.

And there is certainly no wrong way to do this thing.

Fair winds!