publishing business

Serious Business

I’ve been trying to up my game on the business side of the writing business, so I’ve been doing a lot of online workshops. There’s currently an online conference I’m “attending,” so I’m in the middle of an overwhelmed phase as I try to sort through all the information and figure out what I can make myself do and what might make a difference. I’m in awe of the people who’ve written and published something like 100 books in the past ten or so years. There are people who started writing after I started independently publishing who already have more books out than I do, and they’re making millions at it.

I don’t know how they do it. I just about burned out from trying to write more than three books a year, and I haven’t even tried to do all the advertising and promotion they talk about. My brain starts frying when they talk about figuring out ad spend and audiences, and all that — and I used to work at an advertising agency (I worked on the public relations side, but we often had a full-service account team, so I heard what the ad people were up to in client meetings). They spend thousands of dollars in promotion. I think some of them spend more in promotion than I earn in total.

But I do need to sell more books, so I’m trying to do little things that might make a difference, like tweaking Amazon listings for search engine optimization (just typing that makes me twitch). I’ve tried putting some stuff up on Pinterest. I have the video project (new one should be coming Friday, if I get it edited). I’m thinking about splurging and applying to do a Book Bub promo deal. I’m updating the backmatter in the e-books to list all my books and make it easier for readers to find more of my books.

I’m adding new ideas to that list of things to do, but the trick is figuring out if any of it makes any difference. My book sales are all over the place. There are good days and bad days, and on the good days it’s seldom any one book selling a lot of copies. It’s one copy each of just about everything. That makes it hard to tell what promo activity is actually working, or if any of it has anything to do with any promo activity. And that makes it hard for me to motivate myself to do all this stuff. If I saw a clear spike in sales after I did something, it would spur me to do more, but I think a lot of this stuff is slow-build, long-term in nature. It’s cumulative rather than immediate.

I’m really impressed with these authors who write so many books and also manage to do so much promotion. When do they sleep? I would snap completely. I feel like a total slacker, so I’m trying to be better about sticking to a good working schedule and limiting breaks during the workday.

This is why it would be terrible for me to go back to a day job. A regular full day’s work would be draining, especially if I was still trying to write on the side. But I have to sell more books if I want to avoid that fate, so I’m trying to put in the work.

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