I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life.
Waiting until I was old enough to drive. Waiting until I was old enough to date. Waiting until I was old enough to go somewhere on my own and not have to take my sister or my brother with me. Waiting until I was old enough to live on my own. Waiting until I was done with school. Waiting until I could get a job and earn my own money. Waiting until I could buy my own car. Waiting until I could get married. Waiting to hear back from agents. Waiting to get that publishing deal. Waiting for children. Waiting to be able to make a living as an author.
You’d think I’d be an expert at waiting right about now. But I’m not. Whenever I have to wait for anything, I fill the time with whatever I can in the hopes of distracting myself. I wrack my brains for things that I can do to speed the process along (whatever the ‘process’ might be). But most of the time, there isn’t much to do. And so I pace and growl and sometimes cry and pace some more.
My husband teases me all the time because I made the mistake of telling him that I once asked God to give me patience. “Are you really so surprised that He’s making you wait for everything? You asked for patience. This is the way to get it.”
I was fourteen when I prayed that prayer. I had hoped God would just grant me patience. You know, sprinkle some dust over my head, flood me with peace so that I wouldn’t feel so antsy and helpless. And sometimes He does do that for me. (Not so much the dust sprinkling, but the peace flooding part.) Sometimes I’m honestly okay with waiting. But once I’ve waited for a certain amount of time, I think, “I should’ve gotten what I was waiting for by now.” Aaaaaaand cue the pacing and growling and crying.
This has been especially true concerning my book sales.
You guys who visit my blog, who like my author Facebook page, who agree to read ARCs for me, who sign up for my newsletter, who follow me on Twitter or Instagram: thank you! You make my day every day. Seriously. I’m over the moon that anyone reads my books and likes them.
But considering the time and energy I’ve been pouring into book marketing, I was expecting to see a significant rise in sales. When I wasn’t seeing it, I tried to be patient. After all, it’s a big world and the internet is even bigger. I know it takes time for people to find things, no matter how much I post on social media. So I pressed onward, continuing what I was doing in the hopes that I would see results eventually.
Months went by and still no giant leaps in book sales. Before I could start pacing and growling and crying, I decided to try a different approach. I read more articles and watched YouTube videos and asked the advice of more seasoned authors, all so that I could get some insight on what I was doing wrong. And it turns out, my whole book selling mentality was wrong. I kept hearing that authors aren’t just selling their books; they’re selling themselves. But I was so determined that people wouldn’t want to know more about me. Let’s be honest. I’m boring. My books are much more interesting. I was putting the spotlight on them instead of me, so sure that once people started reading, they’d come to love these stories as much as I did. And then tell their friends about them. That worked but only to a certain extent.
One particular interview with a book marketing specialist had me realizing that people will take a chance on pretty much anything an author writes so long as they like the author. Building a relationship, securing a foundation, creating an expectation in the reader; these create life-long fans and friends. This was eye-opening to learn but also discouraging. If you’ve read even one of my previous blog posts, you know that I struggle with making friends. But I determined to try.
For the past week and a half, instead of mass-posting on Facebook book promotion sites, I’ve just posted random stuff on my author and personal pages. I created a Facebook video ad for the first time. That was fun! I have been ignoring Instagram this whole time (which was a HUGE mistake apparently) so I started being more active on that. I posted a few book marketing pics but I mostly just liked other people’s stuff and followed more bookworms and authors. Concerning Twitter, I shifted the focus from my books to the books of other authors. And you know what? I’m a lot happier. Because I don’t feel like I’m selling anything anymore. I’m just another person online, sharing little pieces of me with a like here, a comment there, and a random post all the way over there.
I’ve stopped obsessing about numbers and it’s so freeing! Plus, I realized something; I’ve only been a published author for six and a half months. It takes a lot longer for people to discover a new book to love than just six and a half months. My books aren’t best sellers yet. Let’s be honest. The best sellers get most of the attention. And maybe I’m not ready to get that much attention. Maybe this time of being a semi-known author will prepare me for the day when I’m well-known.
So to all of my fellow authors who are struggling with book sales; take a breather. Give yourself a big heap of grace and a little more time. I’m not saying you should give up on book marketing completely. That won’t do anything for your sales obviously. But try not to stress about it too much. Pick two platforms that work the best for you and stick with them. In the meantime, learn everything you possibly can about book marketing and focus your energies on becoming the best writer and friend you possibly can be. I think you and your readers will appreciate it in the end.