Quite a Ride
During a recent phone conversation, my son asked, “How are sales?” He was referring to my memoir, Calico Lane, which I published in January as an Indie Author---an independent author.
Allow me to tell you a little about that journey:
First off, I was determined that Calico Lane would be traditionally published. I took weeks of classes on writing the perfect sixty-page book proposal. I studied countless samples of query letters and then followed through with a query writing seminar. I spent months carefully honing and sending queries to 75 agents. I remained hopeful. I researched which memoir genre agents were either ‘looking for the next NY Times Best Seller' or 'eager to represent debut authors.’ Lord knows I tried to achieve representation through an agent. I imagined a traditional publisher offering me a good deal. I daydreamed about finding a literary lawyer who would pour over my book contract and advise me accordingly.
Responses from the agents were, in so many words, “no thank you” and, “sorry, not a project I can get behind.” Sadly, more than half did not acknowledge my inquiry.
Discouraged and after a year of deadends and disappointment, I was truly exhausted. My work area was buried beneath research files and the background drafts of Calico Lane. I turned to Amazon, followed their guidelines, and uploaded my book. I became a published author in seconds.
During the first couple of months following the "launch," everyone who knew me knew my book was out and available for sale.
As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20-20." I learned plenty after-the-fact. For example, the marketing should have been going on while I wrote and revised my drafts. Also, a social media platform should have been built. The book release date/launch date should have been announced on every FB site possible, through ads, and with email blasts. But I am not of the 'should've, would've, could've' mindset.
The entire process is overwhelming, especially for first-time Indie Authors. We invest in online writing courses and workshops, attend conferences, and talk with everyone who’s ever traveled this road to publication.
Publishing is mostly on our own, and we pay for all the services, such as editing, cover design, and formatting, as we creatively manage our dollars to produce the end product: A book.
It is a dance, from one guaranteed method to another as we learn about the successes and failures of other Indie Authors through FB sites, blogs, workshops, conferences, and podcasts.
Finally, the book is out and we watch for readers’ reviews and gaze dreamingly at the number of books sold in the ‘reports’ section of our Amazon’s dashboard page.
We pay table fees to get our book in the face of event go-ers. We do book readings and signings. We visit bookshops where Indie Authors have a 'local author' shelf. We even purchase books from Amazon and give them away (there are no free books to authors when dealing with Amazon).
We keep our ‘swag’ (give-a-ways like magnets and bookmarks) in the car glove compartment and at least one copy of the book on the back seat – JUST IN CASE!
Eventually, sales drop off. Since my book, Calico Lane is a memoir, and because I’m a regular person with a social media presence likened to a drop in a bucket, sales were not significant.
However, I am pleased with the reviews Calico Lane has earned on Amazon. The earlier rankings were noteworthy for as much as I understand the mystery of algorithms.
I am humbled and appreciative of those who supported me along the way, and who continue to support me and tell their friends about my book. I am thankful for each and every reader who took the time to post a review on Amazon and GoodReads.
Still, an author aspires to reach thousands of readers, not merely a few hundred. Some yearn to receive a call from Netflix and news that Ron Howard wants to direct a movie based on their book.
That’s when I had the dream. It was a phone conversation with my son, and as always, he asked how the book was doing.
In the dream, I shared my ups and downs.
Then, the dream plot shifted to a scene at his house. In the scene, for some reason, I was looking inside his bedroom closet and dresser drawers. That’s when I found them! Boxes and boxes of my book with receipts…he’d been purchasing several a week since the book was launched!
In my dream state, I felt a wave of embarrassment wash over my entire being. When I woke, I vowed that future answers to book sales questions would be a simple, “Well, it continues to sell."
And, I continue to enjoy the ride!