by Giselle Renarde
I never read just one book at a time. I've always got about four on the go. At the moment, those four would be (in the fiction category) The Bonfire of the Vanities, and (in the non-fiction category) A History of Mistresses by Elizabeth Abbott, Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes, and Who Cares Wins: Why good business is better business by David Jones.
Yup, I read a lot of business and marketing books. A lot of them.
Why? Because writers are businesses, these days. Writers are marketers. It doesn't matter whether you're traditionally published, self-published, or hybrid--if you put pen to paper for profit, you need to get yourself out there. Sell! Sell! Sell!
At least, that's what I've been hearing from every blogger everywhere since forever. It sounded like it was probably true, so I really went at it. I've been reading marketing and business books for years, trying to establish innovative and ethical marketing plans for my books. I really work at this. I do.
And does it make a bit of difference?
A bout of depression came over me this weekend--a work-related bout of depression. It started when last month's Amazon royalty statement came in. I only set up my self-publishing accounts last October, but I have such a huge backlist and so many previously published works whose rights had reverted to me that I already have... I'm going to say 50-60 ebooks on the market? Maybe more than that. Everything from erotic shorts to box sets. Just a lot of material.
So, how much did my self-publishing account earn me in January? At Amazon.com, $71. Seventy-motherfucking-one dollars. With dozens of books on the market.
Wouldn't you be depressed?
If you're an author, you're either thinking "Yeah, you suck" or "Yeah, it sucks" or "You made $71? I want $71!"
Some authors are really really super-successful. I know they exist because I know them. I know A LOT of them. And then, on the flip side, I read a study that said most writers (and we're not just talking self-published authors) earn less than $1,000 a year.
It's getting to the point where I have no idea whether I'm doing well. What I NEED out of my writing (considering it is my career) is to pay my bills. Sorry, but $71 isn't going to cover my rent. Yes, I have many other books placed with many other publishers, but I've kind of got self-publishing tunnel vision right now.
I start to scramble. I start thinking, "What could I do differently? I try so hard. How can I fail so miserably?" I used to think it was because I was a terrible writer. And then I actually read work by other (popular!) authors in the genre and I realized that, yeah, there are some amaaaazing writers out there, but there are even more terrible writers (not YOU, obviously), and even MORE middling ones--like me. Realistically, most of us are middling.
But are other middling authors rolling in dough? Some are, yes. But most of the authors who seem popular? Do they actually have sales or do I just think of them as "popular" because they give that impression?
Can you taste my anxiety?
I don't even know, guys. Sometimes I'm like, "Why do I even bother? Why try? Why not just write and be a hermit and not bother marketing at all?"
If you've got all the answers, I'd love to hear them. Because I've done a hell of a lot of reading and I still don't have a clue.