Writing and self-publishing are two of the most mentally and emotionally demanding tasks one can pursue, but are we authors the only ones who truly understand that? After laboring months upon months over your WIP to make it grammatically pristine and making sure it has a gorgeous cover to match, do you overhear snide remarks about your book being priced too high? Are you sick of scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and watching people make lucrative sales from jewelry, smelly-goods, and makeup while the same buyers pay no mind to the books you’re marketing? Do you agonizingly refresh your KDP sales page, praying one sweet soul will buy the novel you’ve labored over for years?
If so, this post is for you, my friend. You are not alone.
Hype, But No Follow Through
When we indie authors finish our WIPs, we often celebrate on social media by posting that we *finally* finished the book we’ve worked on for months or years. And usually, that post receives a lot of hoopla. People we barely know will comment “so excited for you! I can’t wait to read it!” or “wow, I love your writing! I’ll buy it the day it comes out!”
And we as authors get stoked. We begin to think, If these 100 people who liked this post all buy my book when it releases, that’ll be the headstart I need to get my author career going! We’ve got our head in the clouds… until release week comes. We watch our sales page like a hawk, each tap of the refresh key killing our writer’s heart more and more.
Then the sweet hour comes when it finally loads the release day sales… and we’ve sold three copies. The entire week. And we know for a fact that only obligatory buyers (close friends and family) were the amazing souls who bought copies to not make us feel like complete losers.
So, what about all the others who were rooting for us all those months ago? What happened to those acquaintances who ask us when the next books will come out every time they see us? I mean, it’s not like we didn’t post about the release, share our blog tour links, and post quote graphics from the book to let them know, “HEY! IT’S FINALLY AVAILABLE!”
But, unlike that “my book is finally written!” post all those months ago, these posts are met with radio static. No one but our parents like these posts. But why?
Is it because we suck at marketing? Is our book blurb that bad that no one wants to read it? We rack our brains day in and day out for a reason as we watch KDP sales remain stagnant at zero. It’s depressing. It makes us question whether to continue publishing books. It makes us question whether to continue writing at all. Why write if no one reads it?
It’s easy to blame ourselves for our unpopularity as an author. We didn’t try hard enough. We could’ve bought ads. We could’ve hired a professional blog tour coordinator. We could have… we could have… the possibilities are endless. But no matter how much money we spend on preparing for a book release, we can’t guarantee that any customers will come from it. No matter how much we market, we can’t guarantee that people we know in real life are going to act on their former promises. Why?
What I’ve discovered is that people like a show. People react to highs, and people react to lows. That middle area where you’re trying to climb back up to a high? They’ll clap as you place that first foot on the rock wall and then walk away when the real journey begins. And if you fall off the side of the cliff? Well, they’ll all run back, oohing and aahing as if they’ve been your biggest supporters the whole time, when they’ve in fact never supported you with anything but their mouths.
It’s the harsh truth. I’ve watched it play out time and time again. Sometimes, even for those who sell the jewelry, smelly-goods, and makeup I mentioned before.
What Should We Do?
As cynical as it sounds, there’s really nothing we can do. If you want to work harder to get your book noticed, then by all means, work harder. If all this effort for nought is making you miserable, then I don’t blame you for contemplating taking all your books down for good and mourning that fizzled out dream of being an author. I’ve considered it before.
But the possibility of holding physical copies of my future books keeps me going. I want a huge shelf in my house someday holding all the books I’ve written. I want to pass on a legacy to my future grandkids. Letting fickle people’s empty promises to support my books drive me into a depression great enough to throw my dreams away won’t show future generations that I was a dreamer. It’ll show them that I was a loser, the thing I wanted to avoid in the first place.
Yes, it sucks to go unnoticed as an author, especially by people you’ve grown up knowing in a small town where everyone knows everyone. But hey, I’ve always been something of an unnoticed shadow in this town anyway before my books were published. Sales or no sales, we need to keep at it. Even if we’re the only ones who end up reading our books.
I hope this post wasn’t too brash. I wrote this post back in December before my hiatus and wasn’t going to post it, but the negative feelings I referred to above reared their ugly heads again recently. I hope this helps other indies out there!