Barring acts of God or radioactive slime beast hellbent on scaling the largest tower in my city while simultaneously leaving a swart of destruction in its wake, by this time next week, my book children will officially outnumber my human children.
I am going to level with you – it hasn’t been easy.
When my first bookborn arrived, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. I did whatever any new bookparent would. First I converted a small underused space on the internet into a cozy little site where my bookbaby and my author platform might grow side by side. I overbought supplies (many of which I hadn’t the first clue how to effectively use) so I might be ready for any occasion. I sent out cards alerting the friends and family. I hung up bright shiny pictures of its cover positioned in various poses and dreamed about all the things I thought it might one day be.
I nested. I sanitized my words. I reached out to other new bookmoms and bookdads for sympathy, tips or other advice.
But I was overwhelmed and no matter how much attention I bestowed, my bookbaby still always demanded more.
I consulted the experts who all agreed that the best thing I could do, for us both, was to give my bookbaby a sibling.
I made a choice.
So after a lengthy labor of love, culminating on one cold rainy night, my second bookbaby made its grand first appearance. After the launch, I wanted nothing more than to get some rest and enjoy the benefit of my expanded catalog. Only things didn’t work between the two quite as smoothly as I imagined.
For one, the newest edition was a completely different genre, meaning, as I learned in short order, I wouldn’t be able to utilize most any marketing hand-me-downs. Nor did either book’s temperament allow me to bundle them together. Well… shoot.
I consulted the experts once again on what to do. The answer was the same.
Write more books (preferably this time in the same genre).
A friend posted a picture of her son, roughly Kiddo’s age, riding a bike, which while cute, was more notable by the fact that the child’s training wheels were off. Seeing the picture, I’d asked Kiddo if he’d like to give it a try too.
“Just imagine – you’ll be able to go biking with the big kids. When you don’t have training wheels, you could even go to the park by yourself or even to Nana’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Lamont and I wheeled the bike out. After strapped Kiddo’s helmet on tight, Lamont and I took turns holding Kiddo’s bike upright as our son wavered and wobbled down the side of the street. Still, no matter what we said, or how we cheered, it was clear that Kiddo’s confidence wasn’t quite there. Lamont tried the old parent stand-by. Running behind Kiddo, he simply let go.
Kiddo wasn’t fooled for an instant. Crash. Scrape. “How could you!”
“It’s important you keep trying,” we’d told him, hoisting the bike back up. To give him credit, he did. Several more times. But no matter how hard we tried, gravity (and more than a little fear) continued to knock him down.
“Try pedaling faster,” we’d suggest loudly. “Try actually steering…” we’d mutter more to ourselves.
Flustered, we eventually decided we’d tried long enough. “Most people don’t get it right on the first day,” I told Kiddo. We’d keep trying, a few minutes a day. He’d get the hang of it in no time.
We didn’t. He didn’t. The weather got hot. The dog needed walking. There were any number of excuses that cropped up. Finally, we simply reattached the training wheels. The timing simply wasn’t right.
It is easy to make excuses. But the weather has begun to cool. Those excuses are now running out. It is time for Kiddo to get back on his bike. Which brings me to the other subject of this post.
How to make an author panic in three easy steps.
Tell them you’ve bought their book. Okay, technically step one is usually enough to send me into cold sweats, but then again, just because they’ve bought it, doesn’t mean they’ve read it. So…
Recommend they look into marketing techniques such as podcasts. All the cool authors are doing it
Encourage them to contact hosts. It’s so easy! Just follow their instructions.
There are those in the writing world with far more years of experience under their belts, who recommend not worrying much about book promotion until you have at least three if not five books to your name. In theory, this method allows you to have a greater catalog ready to offer readers when promotion efforts hook new readers. One book at a discount could turn into multiple book sales by return readers.
Take the Apple for example. Sure, Apple spends most of its time promoting the iPhone, but that is only one of their products. Once they’ve gotten you hooked on the device, you are more inclined to purchase accessories or even less advertised gadgets. The same principle applies to books. Promotion takes a lot of work. You want to ensure you have the best return possible.
This was also a convenient strategy for me. I accepted I would not be an overnight success. I dare say I embraced it. I felt justified not worrying about marketing beyond the occasional giveaway or occasional guest piece as I worked away on the next project.
Unfortunately, as I neared the final pages of this draft it occurred to me that I will have three books to my name in the coming months. Which means it is time for the marketing training wheels to come off. In a fit of insanity, masquerading as bravery, I researched blog and radio hosts who might be interested in discussing a book like mine. I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?
Within days I received a message back. They’d love to have me on their show. My heart began to race as the reality of what I’d done began to sink in. I’d have to talk to people I’d never met. Publicly! I read further. In September. Phew! September was weeks away. My breathing calmed. I’d have plenty of time to get myself mentally prepare by then.
So now I have one week to calm my nerves. It’s not like this is your first guest appearance, Allie. One week to practice my selected reading. Wait. What? One week to ponder why writing, which traditionally is such an introverted activity, requires so much extroverted follow-up. Really. Why? And one week to remind myself of reasons I am doing this. I want to be able to ride with the big kids one day as much as I want to set an example for my sons. But also, just as importantly, I am doing this because I’m proud of what I’ve done.
It is time to dust off the virtual helmet and restock the band aids. So wish me luck. Here I go.
There are good weekends and then there are gooooooooooood weekends.
Last week, my sister (I’ll call her Lucinda, which is a nice enough name, or Lucy for short) announced out of the blue that my boys were invited to spend the night on Friday. Lucy said the invitation was because my niece (Xena sounds right) was going off on an adventure, but my nephew, Casimir (sure, why not) was not, and she wanted Casimir to get to do something special too.
I had their bag’s packed before breakfast.
Suddenly Lamont and I found ourselves curfew-less on the night of the Star Wars premiere. It was just too bad that the shows were sold out. Or so I thought. While discussing my little bit of unexpected good fortune at work, a co-worker mentioned that I should, at least, look into a theater a little further from home than I usually go to. Tickets offered there were slightly more expensive than closer theaters, but you are able to select your seat in advance. I logged in. And lo, what to my wondering eyes did appear, but two unclaimed seats for the much-hyped premiere.
I called Lamont. Lamont is not really a Star Wars fan (I guess, no one is perfect), but knowing that we wouldn’t be forced to sit in the front row and knowing how much I wanted to go he chose not to fight an unwinnable fight agreed to go with me (he’s a good man). Click. Click. The tickets were mine ours.
For those of you who did not stumble upon your own golden tickets, rest assured, I am not offering any spoilers. The Star Wars portion of my story ends here.
Books are like an author’s children. I’ve been promoting the second for awhile now, but every so often I feel compelled to do something special for the first. I’d experienced an unexpected gift, so I decided to pay it forward. I offered my first novel, An Uncertain Faith, for free Saturday and Sunday – no strings attached. It was my way of playing Secret Santa.
I expected 25-50 downloads. And that, I thought, was a generous estimate. I hadn’t had time to advertise and with many of my blogging friends going offline for the rest of the year, who was left to help me promote it? Therefore, I practically spit out my coffee Saturday morning when I saw I’d already reached 30 downloads before 9 am.
I picked the boys up from Lucy’s. We discussed exactly why sneaking out of bed and dumping cups of water on the floor for no apparent reason at all wasn’t just a rule for our house (please Lucy, invite them back. They’ll be good. They promise!). I drank more coffee. I went to the gym and to the grocery store. I spent an hour hunting down the elusive graham cracker beast (is it considered cookie, cracker, or baking supply?) along with other Christmas dinner related supplies. It was a regular day. I checked my report again. And then it wasn’t. At some point, I’d shot well past 50 downloads and well past 100 too. My brain, heart, and lungs stopped functioning (luckily not all at once).
I was, if only for a fleeting moment, ranked #1.
Okay, so if you want to be picky, I was number one for free e-book downloads in the category of women’s literature that also happens feature mystery and female sleuths, but I also cracked the top 100 for free e-books overall and even made it to #1 in a similar category in the UK. But that’s beside the point. As of this weekend, I am (or at least I was) an internationally bestselling author (sort of).
I can only assume that my Robotic Overlords have chosen to reward my declaration of fealty with higher placement in the search algorithm (all hail). Either that or I just experienced the writer’s version of a Christmas miracle. In either event, I can only now wish good tidings to you and all of your friends as I try to think of a way to pay this particular gift forward in 2016.
We have reached that point in the year in which my daily commute is conducted entirely in the dark. The days are getting shorter. It is one of the only aspects of Fall I dislike. To make matters worse, dense cloud cover blocked out what little light remained in the sky as I pulled out onto the highway. A misty rain ensured that traffic would be particularly brutal.
Luckily my destination was nearby. Unluckily that meant it was that much closer to show time. My knuckles were still white from clutching the steering wheel like a life raft. I began to regret eating a large lunch.
Get it together, Allie. I told myself. You will be among friends.
I entered the shop thirty minutes ahead of schedule, which was a good thing as the barista had lost my order. Fortunately we came up with a quick plan B. Please let that be the worst that happens tonight. I could feel my limbs begin to shake as my adrenaline levels began to climb. Where is Lamont?
I pulled out my phone and hit the icon for the find my friend app. There he was, on his way, but still several minutes away. I have to find something to do to stay busy or I’ll go crazy. I returned to my car and popped open the truck. I retrieved two heavy boxes – my sole reason for being at this shop on a dark and dreary night.
The boxes felt heavier than I remembered from when I loaded them just that morning. Balancing on one foot while bracing the boxes on my other leg I pulled open the shop doors and placed the boxes on a nearby table. I waited. Lamont’s dot on the map moved maybe a fraction of an inch. Agony. I waited some more.
I watched as the barista placed my order in the adjacent conference room. Another minute passed as I stared at my phone’s display. I felt my stomach lurch. You have to do something. Now.
I grabbed my boxes and walked toward the conference room. A pair of double doors blocked my way. I’ve gotten this far by myself. I lifted my leg to repeat the balancing act that had gotten me to this point.
Crash. The boxes tumbled down, their contents spilling out across the floor. Other casual patrons stopped their conversations and came to offer their help. As they picked up several copies of identical books, I realized I could no longer hide who I was or why I was there.
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