Most People Won’t Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Delilah Cover

Warning: Rant Ahead

I’ve been seriously writing for seven years, and I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have been there offering support and encouragement. For the last year, since I graduated for my M.F.A. with two novels completed they have all continued to urge me on with enthusiasm, promising to purchase a book if I get published and inquiring about getting on pre-order lists. I felt myself fortunate to have so many staunch supporters.

 

I’m not talking about all those folks out there that ‘like’ your posts without actually following the link and reading the blog posts, or buying the book. That kind of thing happens all the time and is to be expected, because these folks don’t really know you. No, who I’m talking about are those who actually know me, people I felt I could depend on to be there and back me up in all circumstances.

So, maybe you can see why I might experience confusion when, after my western novel, Delilah, was finally published, I expected to have a few sales, not hundreds or anything, but at least a few. When checking on it’s progress, I found Delilah had two reviews so far, with a four star rating, which pleased me to no end. In fact, one of the reviews compared me to a feminist Louis L’Amour, which is pretty high praise for a western.

However, when I inquired as two my sales, my publisher informs me that I have only two. At least both buyers wrote reviews. So where are all my avid followers who love me and couldn’t wait to buy my book? It seems all of my supporters have disappeared into the woodwork, so to speak. Not one has honored their vow to buy my book, not even my own family members.

I think the thing that makes me the angriest is the fact that they all know how hard I’ve worked to get this far, but as soon as they are asked to fork out some cash, and we’re only talking ninety-nine cents here, they vanish. I don’t see or hear from them anymore, or if I do, the subject of the book isn’t mentioned, but rather, it is skillfully danced around. And now it is apparent, they are not willing to spend a buck on my book, the work they claimed to have so much faith in. Am I wrong to be hurt and disappointed?

Since the publication of Delilah, I have worked hard to promote the book and stir up some sales. I have made blog posts talking about it, shared them all over social media like crazy, sent out ARCs to be reviewed. I did an interview with author Dan Alatorre on his authors blog, which can be viewed here. My publisher even set up two days, where readers to get the book for free, and still only two sales.

I wasn’t expecting to be an overnight best seller, and I suppose I need to keep in mind that those two sales produced very good reviews. I want to take time out here to thank those two readers who actually bought Delilah and took the time to write a review.  Because, as I’ve mentioned before, these days, reviews are everything. Not that good reviews will bring increased sales, but they do make a difference.

According to Amazon you have to have the magic number of fifty reviews before they will deem your book worthy of their promotion, and I’m learning fast that fifty reviews will not be easy to get. I’d venture that most books available on Amazon don’t make the grade, and that marketing and promotion can make or break a book, because to gain readers, people have to be able to find your book and want to read it. Because they can’t write a review, if they haven’t read the book.

I imagine many authors go through these same feelings. It’s all a part of the writing game. Now that I have that out of my system, I’ll get back to the business of writing, and promoting my writing. So, wish me luck, and if you like gritty westerns, spend a buck on Delilah.

 

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11 Comments on “Most People Won’t Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is”

  1. P Moorman says:

    I understand where you’re coming from. It’s very difficult to get the reviews, even if you get the sales. I read and enjoyed your book. You can find my review on Goodreads.

  2. In my experience, relatives (not your kids, but all the others) are the least likely to buy my books. I’m not sure why (maybe they’re afraid they won’t like it? maybe they’re just not readers? maybe they think you should give them one?), but it seems to be the case. All I can say is “keep writing”!

  3. Relatives aren’t (relatively) that big a market anyway!

  4. Congrats on publishing your book, and that MFA. I hate to say it, and I don;t mean to be mean, but that and $5 bill will get you a latte at Starbucks.

    The publishing world has changed. Yes, you have to have good content, but equally if not more importantly, you need to know how to market and sell. If, as many authors claim, you “hate marketing,” you’re already in the wrong business–that is, if you want to make a living or anything like it.

    Of course, if you just want to write, then keep writing and publishing at least two books a year, and three or four is better. I say without any sarcasm that doing that materially increases your chance of catching fire with readers, but publishing many books PLUS knowing how to market gives you a much better chance of gaining traction.

    Clearly, you need to hang out on something like KBoards and soak up all the knowledge. How do I know you’re behind the power curve, no offense meant?

    This:

    “According to Amazon you have to have the magic number of fifty reviews before they will deem your book worthy of their promotion.”

    Sorry, that’s a myth, long debunked. Every successful indie author (like me–I’ve sold, not given away, over 300,000 books in the last 5 years) knows that’s a legend circulated by hopeful newbs–and guess what, you bought it too, apparently. Again, hanging out on a forum like KBoards and learning–and there’s a huge amount to learn–is foundational.

    There are proven ways to grow your writing career. None of them involve much social media or asking your friends and family to buy your book. It’s axiomatic that your friends and family are the LEAST reliable people to read and review your book.

    Conversely, your true fans — in the mold of the now-classic 1000 True Fans —

    http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

    — these are your real supporters. People who love your work first, and who may come to love YOU later.

    Good luck, and see you on KBoards.

    http://www.kboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html

    • Interesting. I will have to check it out. But just so you understand where I’m coming from, I’m quite aware that a part of writing these days is promotion and marketing, as is evident in several of my previous posts. While my passion is writing, not marketing, I know it is necessary, even with a publisher. And I am a newbie, with lots to learn, so the invite to check out KBoards is appreciated.
      I’m also aware that those who promised to buy my book wouldn’t make up a large part of my market, it was more a matter of being let down by those I trusted. While it was disappointing to find I only had two sales so far, my book hasn’t even been out there that long. It takes time, and at the surety of being cliche, only time will tell how well my book will do. I just needed to get out my frustrations toward those who should have been there for me but weren’t.

  5. Scott Cannon says:

    I know what you mean. I was surprised at how many people I know don’t read my published short stories, for free. Of course I have no idea how many people I don’t know have read one of my stories, if any have. I think if it cost even a dime, no one would read them. It must feel a hundred times worse when it’s a novel. Good thing for me it’s just a hobby, and I can pretend it doesn’t matter.

    • Here’s something some people forget: even a free book costs the reader–in time. readers are constantly making judgments about where to invest their time. That’s why they pay high prices for known authors, while new authors can barely give their books away–the readers feel assured of a good time with those known authors. With the new authors, they are not sure if their time will be wasted. They are often afraid of a bad experience–and friends and family are no different.

      How many times do people drive right past restaurants they’ve never tried, to go to the one they’re comfortable with, even if the food and service there is only so-so? I think it’s because readers are looking for comfortable escape, and they often choose the dependable over the spontaneous.

  6. Good point David. And don’t worry. I won’t stay mad at friends and family for this. I think I just needed to vent because my feelings were hurt. It felt pretty good to express my frustrations. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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