I just end up getting really depressed.
I’m sure these books are written with the best of intentions. The authors are always cheerful and hopeful, just bursting with enthusiasm about how well their books are selling and how with just a few simple steps I can be just as successful. I appreciate that, I really do.
First, these books seem to assume that I am writing books that are just like books that are already top sellers, and advise making covers that look just like those books, write blurbs that sound just like those books, even copy the way those books are formatted.
Many of them stress that a book must fit into an existing genre and must be easily summed up in a few sentences.
Well, mine isn’t, so according the them I’m scratched right out of the gate. I don’t think I’m a literary snob or anything–I enjoy those kinds of books. It’s just not what I write.
Then there’s output. These books are full of sentences like, “Once you have five or six books in a series…” It took me a year to write Catskinner’s Book, and I anticipate spending that much time on Cannibal Hearts. I simply can’t write a book every four months, which seems to be what “successful” writers do.
Which brings us to time. I work forty plus hours a week. I can’t spend six hours a day writing and another six hours a day on social media. I’m not independently wealthy.
Speaking of which, I also don’t have several thousand dollars to spend launching a book. The author of one book I recently read bragged about all the money saving tips he had and how he was able to launch a new book for only two thousand dollars.
I spent nothing getting Catskinner’s Book into print. I did the work myself, writing, formatting, cover design, everything. Granted, I did have a professional editor who was willing to copy edit the book for free, because she’s my mother, but still. And I’ll admit that I live with a talented photographer who let me use the cover image for free.
I didn’t have any money to spend on “polishing” a “package”. I still don’t. I certainly am not making it from sales.
Oh, yes, sales. I’m reading things like “don’t worry if for the first few months you’re only selling a few hundred copies a month…” Excuse me? I have made fewer than fifty total sales (I’m not counting the KDP freebies nor the GoodReads giveaways, only sales where money changed hands) in the six months or so that Catskinner has been on the market.
Fewer than fifty sales total. All of them on Amazon. Despite having people tell me they wanted to read my book on the Nook, I have yet to make a single sale on B&N. Not one.
Oh, and I’m not on Smashwords, and they all tell me that I must be on Smashwords. Well, I suppose I could be, if I was willing to go out and buy Microsoft Word so I could format it the way they want it formatted. Personally, I’d rather format the book the way I want it formatted.
I don’t have hundreds of friends on Facebook, I don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter, I don’t have more than a half dozen people who read this blog. I think that most of my immediate family has read my novel, or at least owns a copy, but I don’t have a huge pool of friends and family that I can press into service like Amway salesmen to create a “buzz” for me.
When I die I hope I die of some wasting disease that leaves a desiccated corpse because I don’t think my kids will be able to find six men to carry my coffin, without paying half of them. I’m just not popular.
So, am I wasting my time by writing and trying to publish my books? Probably, according to the experts in the field. They are much too upbeat to come right out and say, that, of course–phrases like “give it up you pathetic loser” clash with their happy faces.
I’m not going to give it up, not writing. But I think I’m going to give up reading “How To Self-Publish And Make Millions”. Those books are not written for me.