Here's my struggle; I’m a writer and I think my words and stories should be shared. They were never intended for me. With the exception of diaries, I’ve always written with an audience in mind. After I had legitimate books, the idea of “sharing” my stories somehow morphed into “selling.” It seemed to me that if I had books, I needed to sell books. I started to daydream about winning the book lotto. I fantasized about each one, or just one, hitting it big! I dared to dream that writing could be a job that sustained me. I would say good-bye to whatever title I held and my profession would from then on be: “Author!” It was a dreamy dream and I was quite caught up in it... until I realized books don’t magically sell. Like any product they need to be marketed, and a salesman I am not! I will more often talk people out of something than into something. Selling makes me queasy and uneasy. I needed help!
I interviewed and researched marketing companies and chose one. Next thing I knew it was a whirlwind of money out, and things to do on my checklist, and projects to get done. It overwhelmed me, it confused me, and on Independence Day, it stopped me. This is nothing new. Other things have stopped me dead in my writing tracks. Other things other than writing. Always “something” gets in between me and creating things to share. Doubts arise: What am I doing all of this for anyway? What is the point, the purpose, the reason? Do I even have a right selling? Surely I’m not good enough, the stories aren’t good enough. But why? Why would these thoughts, ideas and stories come to me, if not to share?! Why, God why? I’ve prayed over it, agonized over it. I’m currently on a private spiritual journey that revolves around future writing. Yes, I’ve been here before, and since I’ve paid so much to have my website resurrected, really, rebranded, I might as well dissect and post my newest writing dilemma here!
Ugh! Marketing! First and foremost have I said that I hate selling?! I do. I can list off plenty of personal strengths, I’m not self-deprecating, but selling is not my strength. I am 43 and getting older every day. I’m not interested in pouring time into pursuits that do not give me pleasure or fulfill the call God’s given me. At this stage in life, I’d rather focus on and refine my strengths and honor the strengths of others by trusting (and paying) them to do things I do not want to do. I don’t want to “do” marketing or sales, so, I hired it out. In my head marketing is selling. Turns out it’s not! Marketing is a different beast, another one I’m not interested in pouring time into learning. Instead, I poured money into my marketing company. It was probably a laughable amount of money to them, but to me it was a lot of our household disposable income each month, honestly more than I could realistically justify. Rebranding was in full swing, but no sales were realized. Four months in, I started stressing about the money. I felt like a thief robbing my already financially strapped household to fund a fantasy that “my books will sell!” We needed that money for “real-life” and I was playing make-believe with it. I *thought* book marketing was like hiring an editor; you give them a manuscript, they correct your mistakes and send you a bill. I thought the job I was paying marketers for was making and posting ads. It’s not. It’s other stuff to get these darn seven books I’ve already created "ready" to sell, before actually selling them.
Some of these books have been published either as indie, or under my former publisher for over 6 years... I understand why one book isn't worth advertising, because there's nothing else to sell. I *thought* once I had an inventory of stories and series it would be time to sell. Unfortunately, right when my 7th book/second series was finished, the infringement lawsuit happened. I finally paid that off and *thought* again that it was time to sell. I really thought that's what I was buying. If I’ve learned anything out of this, it’s that marketing isn't putting a book up for sale and paying for ads... it's thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of prep work "first." The reality is I will not have that kind of time until I retire. Hopefully at some point in my life before retirement, I'll have enough of a disposable income to pay someone without hurting our household finances, but I don't right now.
What's more, and what's bigger, and what stopped me in my tracks on Independence Day is that I genuinely LOVE the process of writing and making up worlds and stories! It's therapeutic, it's refreshing, it's meaningful to me. Writing makes me feel good! Writing is my reprieve, my oasis, my confidence, my make-believe playground to run and be free and create in. It’s also a humbling honor. I know everyone can’t write. The fact that I can and that stories evolve in my head is an honor. I try not to sound all woojuu-y spiritual, but sometimes it feels like a Divine gift. I can create worlds and concepts with words! I don’t take it lightly. Writing is my calling. It gives me purpose. It helps me understand why I’m here. All of the sales and branding and marketing and hullabaloo turns something I adore and do for stress relief into drudgery, confusion, disappointment, stress, frustration and pain. No matter how much I'd like to see my books make money, I'd rather not sell or “market.” I just want to get back to writing for fun like I used to. I'm not "me" when I'm not writing. I feel like I have to have things "just so" with these seven before I can get back to being me, and they're never right! They’re never ready! They’re never enough!
I'm tired of these stories! Don't get me wrong, I love them all for what they are and where I was in life when I created them, but I'm ready to move on. I have so many other thoughts, ideas and stories bubbling inside me or drafted and waiting for revision and polishing. Even if I only write for myself, I want to get back to writing. But there’s that struggle again, it’s not only for me. Writing has never been only for me. That, to me seems selfish. Spending money on marketing also seems selfish. I’m depleting our finances for my silly dream. Equity is somewhere between stroking my ego and hiding the stories away from the world because someone has deemed them “not ready.” It's fair that these seven stories have space on an Amazon shelf. I can give them that honor and move forward with my writing. And... who knows... if God wills, and the wind blows the right way, maybe those who are meant to read them will happen upon them, forgive the covers, and the unknown author with no newsletter or platform, and slide into a world I've created for them!
Marketing isn't for me, not any of it! It stresses me out, confuses me and takes time away from the loves and joys in my life. If you tell me I can pay someone or some company money and not have to do anything BUT write... I'm in! I thought that’s what I was paying for, but it turned out I had to do so much "other" than writing and paying (and I over estimated what I could pay). So, I’m out! Maybe I'm lazy, or ignorant, or stubborn, but I don't want to learn the skill of marketing. I just want to get back to writing for joy. I need this escape back in my life; reality is too much!
Now, three days later, I'm embarrassed that I misunderstood what I was buying into and what writing is to me. I'm mortified because I made a fool of myself to a reputable marketing company and highlighted my ignorance. I’ve been surly and sour with my husband and my grandmother because I’m embarrassed about spending so much without realizing what I was paying for. I've agonized over all of this BUT I learned some things. I figured some things out. I processed, I refreshed, I accepted… all in written words. I got dirty, dug deep down to the roots. At the core, I am a wrtier! If all of this is good for anything, it’s that I’ve worked up fresh new words to share. This is my first blog post in over a year! THAT makes me happy!
I'll never “give up” writing. The truth is I can’t! Writing is part of me. I do think I’ll give up “marketing.” No more “please oh please buy my book,” no more embarrassing launch parties, no more ego stroking. I'll just write. I’ll share the words and stories that God, whimsy, the muse, or life prompt. I’ll hire an editor, hire a formatter, hire a cover designer, share on social media, pay for ads I can easily understand, release what I’ve created, and write some more (with pictures I know are royalty free haha). Whatever will be will be and at least this way peace can return to my soul because I can get back to the craft that calls to me. May you too find your calling and your peace!