Tag Archives: “Seascape”

A Year Of Self-Publishing

Exactly a year ago I made the decision to self-publish my first novel “Seascape”.

Over the course of the year I completed the editing and publishing process, I had 1 book launch, two store signings, three library visits. I was a book club selection for two book clubs. I did three assorted author sales. And I did a couple of community farmer’s markets. My book is in two bookstores, and two drugstores.

I have done almost no promotion other than this blog and Facebook, one newspaper advertisement and a couple of flyers at local post offices.

I have sold around four hundred printed copies and 75 eBooks, with almost no effort. Of course this begs the question, what might my results have been with considerable effort? Unfortunately I suck at sales. I am my own worst enemy, because I do not know how to toot my own horn, and I hate to impose and ask for the consideration of others. I have stretched myself a bit in this department. I am willing to stretch a bit father, but for the most part, this is never going to be my strong suit.

My strong suit is writing a book that people enjoy reading, even those who were certain they would have to groan and bear it. If I could get a dollar for every man who read it and said they didn’t think they’d like it, but enjoyed the whole thing, well I’d have about thirty dollars, at least. If you had to take away a dollar for every person who did not enjoy my book well I’d still have my thirty bucks. If someone has not liked it, they sure haven’t let word get back to me.

Word of mouth means everything. My book has sold for the most part on word of mouth. The trick is getting my book into people’s hands. Once it is there they enjoy it, pass it on, and buy more copies for others. I am blessed by repeat customers. That is wonderful for me because these are not just individual sales. Many purchasers of “Seascape” will return when the next book comes out. I may not have pushed my book into a great many hands, but almost every hand that took a book has become a fan and champion of my work. I know I have a small but firm base I can build on.

Over the course of the year the lessons were endless. I know where to spend my money and my time in the future. I know that bookstores are my least favorite sales locations. I know that if I can afford it, I am better off hiring someone to help with promotion. I am great at showing up but not so good at finding events and locations to market myself. I sold where I did not think I would sell. I did not do well where I thought I would. Through it all I made some great connections, bought some great books by other authors, and reaffirmed my belief that other writers are some of my favourite people.

Self-publishing seemed like such a monumental task and it turned out to be a life changing event. Looking back on the choice, I can say it was a fantastic decision and I have no regrets. If I do not secure a book deal with the next book I am writing, I would definitely go this route again.

My Indigo Experience

Last Saturday I had my very first official bookstore signing at the busiest location available in my entire province. I was excited by prospect of being in a target rich environment with the potential to move many books. I could not imagine a better opportunity but I did make myself a personal pledge to go into it with no expectations and no hopes.

INDIGO

From 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. I sold 4 books. The total money made for the store was $83.96. My personal profit was about $12.00. I did not take the pushy approach; I did not sit insecurely behind my table. I moved around the store. I struck up conversations with shoppers. I feel confident I got every sale I should have so why so few sales?

I was set up in the front of the store, at the mall entrance near the till so people saw me as they were entering and leaving. However many of the people coming in avoided my table choosing to come in away from my position. Next time I will pick a better location.

I was incredibly upset to discover I did forget a pivotal piece to erect my banner properly. This was a huge mistake. From my last sale I saw how helpful the banner was at illustrating with a quick glance what the book is about. More importantly it really helps me stand out in a busy environment.

According to the staff the store was not as busy as it normally should have been. It seemed busy enough to me; there was a great deal of traffic. However the store is also a mall entrance and many of the people were not at Indigo to purchase books, but were just passing through on their way to the rest of the mall.

Those who lingered and browsed were selecting nonfiction. In fact one of the staff actually pointed out how little fiction is really in the store. Only thirty percent of the books are actually fiction. Contemporary romantic fiction is a small part of this segment.

The last and scariest reason I discovered because I was stationed so close to the till and I was able to see what people were purchasing. Over half of the purchases made were not books, but rather items from the other part of the store, for example, toys from the children’s’ section, curtain hangers from the home decorating section, and dishes from the giftware section. It was truly shocking to see the traffic was steady, but the purchases were few books or no books at all.

I deeply want my writing to contribute financially to my family. I realize this is a goal that will not be accomplished overnight; I must be prepared to do the work. After this experience it is hard not to wonder if writing books is a pipe dream. Seven hours put $12.00 in my pocket. Actually that is a horrible lie because I left the store having bought double the number of books I sold and it cost me at least a hundred in fifty dollars in travel expenses. I’m left wondering if this is really the best use of my time?

Indigo would like me to come back and it wasn’t so difficult a work day that I have any anxiety about doing it again. It’s all part of the learning process and I am committed to learning every aspect of book sales and promotion so when my year is done I will be wiser, more experienced, and I will have all the information necessary to proceed more successfully in the future.

Once the disappointment wore off I got to thinking about sales and fan base. I have sold three hundred print copies of my novel; I have sold fifty digital editions. I know my book has been shared by many. The copies I have put in the library system have been steadily lent out. I may not have hit five hundred sold copies yet but I am close to having five hundred readers of my work. That is something.

This fall is going to be exceptionally busy with several events each month and I am hoping to line up more. I am honored to find out I will once again be a book club selection at another library plus I am going to be a guest speaker for another town’s cultural days. I have several library visits set up, and two book sales with other authors which I am really looking forward to. I have 200 books to go and then I will be able to focus on my work in progress. One thing about being on the road it doesn’t get the next book done. At least I have a very clear perspective that if I am ever going to make a living at this, it is going to happen one book at a time and one sale at a time.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to encourage me and give me some advice. It really made a difference!

Indigo, Here I Come!

This week I have my first official bookstore signing at a chain store for my novel “Seascape’. The Indigo store I will be visiting is in a huge location and is super busy. This Saturday I will be at the Calgary Crossiron Mills location. From 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. I will be front and center of the store.

I am nervous!

I have had several events. Why is this one sparking so much anxiety? Because it is Indigo. Even more scary, to have a good sale, to do my absolute best, I have to get out from behind my display table and mingle. I have to pass out bookmarks and approach people.

Ugh! Approaching people is my struggle.

I have a game plan but if you have any suggestions or recommendations about how I should conduct myself, I am open to receiving.

Seriously, I am all ears.

My “Buy It Now” Button has been installed!

If you look slightly down and to the right you’ll see the cover of my novel and my “buy it now” button. For anyone interested in purchasing my printed version of “Seascape” it is now easy to do so by clicking on the available link. I am about half way through selling my printed copies after only one month of sales.

If you want to know more about my novel click on the page for “Seascape” at the top of this page.

It is available in all e-reader formats and of course iTunes is great because you can read a large sample of the book before purchasing.

The road to becoming an author really can end with one becoming an author!

No matter what else happens down other roads, I will always have April 28th, 2013 to look back on.

A Happy Author

Last December when I made up my mind to self-publish, I also decided I would do a book launch party. My initial vision was that I would do an e-book of “Seascape” and maybe get fifty copies printed. I’d have my friends over, and it would be an excuse to throw a small party. Somehow things got carried away (this may have had something to do with my husband saying “Come on! Order 500 books, I’ll help you sell them. We need to invest in you.”) It was an impulse buy/decision, and once I made it I had to take myself, my novel, and this business much more seriously.

I have had so much encouragement along the way from so many. It made it easier to wrap my head around the idea that this decision might not be such a bad one. But 500 books is such a lot of books. And renting a hall, paying advertising, buy and preparing a carload of food is such a risk, with no guarantee of any return.
I am so glad I made the leap!

My book launch had so much support. There were so many people who came and bought books. I saw so many familiar faces, and so many new and unexpected faces! I literally cannot believe how many men in the past week have purchased my book, and not just for their significant other. Men are reading my book! Wow!

Sitting at that table with my pen in hand, signing books with my wacky, messy, little scrawl (that some commented did not look like a real signature), and then doing a reading, it all felt incredible. I thought it might feel surreal, but it felt very real! It felt earned and I was able to enjoy the experience, despite nerves.

Reading for the crowd

Not since my wedding day have I ever been the focus of so much attention! And so much positive attention was overwhelming, in the best possible way. To have so many family and friends show up and support me, to work for hours at preparing food and refreshments, when I couldn’t even help, to compliment me, to want the best for me, to cheer me on, and to pay hard earned cash for my creativity, well needless to say, that kind of energy spilled over long into the night and the next day.

Yesterday I did not check my blog, I didn’t check Facebook. I had to unravel and unwind from the deluge of blessings. I had to soak in my gratitude. I had to remember that even though the day before I was a newly launched author, a glowing success, well on my way to selling my five hundred copies, I also had to remember that the date was April 29th, and I had not yet done mine and my husband’s taxes.

Back to regular life… which now also includes selling and promoting my book. I am feeling pretty damn good even if I now need to retitle my blog.

The road to becoming an author really can end with one becoming an author!

My novel amongst the decorations.

My novel amongst the decorations.

The Books Are Here! The Books Are Here!

On Monday I got a phone call from my sister-in-law that some UPS dude had dropped 11 boxes on her driveway. She barely got the words out before I hit the shower and got my husband and daughter ready to make the two hour drive to her house.

There is no greater feeling for an author than cracking open a box and holding your book in your hand. It was exciting! It was also surreal, and I could not wrap my head around the experience.

This is me seeing my novel in print for the first time.

This is me seeing my novel in print for the first time.

This immediate reaction was followed by an agony of embarrassment when I passed my book to my husband and he flipped to the back cover and his eagle eyes picked out an extra little “d” where one should not have been.

WHY!!!!!!!! ( I screamed, tearing and clutching at my hair.)

I did not expect perfection but I really thought I was going to avoid this type of error, a silly, stupid mistake, on the back cover of five hundred printed copies. UGH!!!! I worked so hard to avoid mistakes.

I immediately began to beat myself up for rushing because I was trying to make my somewhat secret book launch date. When I received my final proof I knew if I rejected it, there was no way I could make this date. However grief was the bigger component. Hours before I received my final proof we lost our 7 year old German Shepard, Jake. I love all my dogs but he was special. He was our gladiator, our protector.

My Protector

My Protector

It wasn’t the day to make the choice to put my book into production. My husband and I scoured the final proof and we both missed the mistake. This wasn’t the only problem. I missed acknowledging my photographer friend Tanya Hardy-Dubeau for my author photo and my font is a little small. Thankfully my chapters are short.

What is done is done. There is no point in continuing to agonize over mistakes. Feel the pain. Learn the lesson. Move on!

I am just a breath away from finalizing the details of my book launch. I am writing up advertisements for the local papers, I am working on getting my “purchase the book button” installed on this site. This is the calm before the storm of marketing and promotion descends. My Ebook is live on every E-reader format, but I am not pushing it yet, because I want to focus on my launch. I am very curious if I can generate any Ebook sales at all, without any promotion. I’ve got a few weeks to see.

April 28th, 2013, from 1-4 p.m. I will be launching my book “Seascape” at the Mallaig Legion Hall. I will be signing books for anyone interested in purchasing a copy, but more than that I just want people to come out and help me celebrate this accomplishment. There will be tons of great snacks and refreshments. I may even be persuaded to do a short reading from the book. With every book purchased comes an entry into a draw to win some great prizes. I have Chapters gift cards, a Kindle, A Kobo, and because my book is a great beach read, some fun, beach themes prizes.

If none of these reasons to stop by appeal to you, I guarantee you’ll get to see a woman who is excited but scared spitless of the next stage in her life!

The Voices In My Head Make Me Do It

Last week I delved further into my writing process explaining I am not entirely alone. I ended that blog with a promise to discuss how in addition to “my creativity” I also commune with the voices in my head.

Once a situation strikes my curiosity and I decide I want to write about it, the characters step forth to act out this dilemma. They introduce themselves and tell me their stories like a friend sharing confidences over coffee. More often than not, the exchange is deeper, more like a friend who has drank too many glasses of wine. This wasn’t always the case. When I began to write my first novel, there were no voices and the characters were as flat as the paper I wrote on.

In “Seascape”, Skylar, my main character was loosely based on me. In my experience all characters have their seeds in the writer, but Skylar was the character who spoke most like me. Having used this device once I was now at a loss. I could not construct a whole novel of Shannon-based characters. Not enough novel-worthy material could be mined from this source. Once I accepted my characters could not come entirely from me, I began to look around for inspiration.

I don’t replicate people on the page, but I may steal attributes. In native mythology, the Raven is closely identified with storytellers. I was told that this is in part because Ravens are thieves. And in this aspect I am a thief. I take little kernels from the world around me. (Remember my writing shirt “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel”) Once gathered these kernels or stolen aspects can grow.

I want my characters to be original and fresh, but it is more important they are believable and realistic. In the beginning my characters were flat because I didn’t like them to have flaws. They said and did all the right things; it was terribly uninteresting. This all changed when Lexie, the older sister to Skylar, began to speak to speak to me.

I never had an older sister so my original template for Lexie was manufactured from clichés at hand. She was the bossy older sister. In an attempt to challenge myself I considered motivations for her cliché behavior. Lexie began to develop. She took shape in my mind, began to have conversations with me and emerged as so much more than my original construct. Lexie surpasses normal bossiness. She is unapologetic and so certain of her own correctness, she speaks without a filter. When I pondered why she might be this way Lexie explained she keeps all her relationships superficial. For example she enjoys sex recreationally. This told me she is uncomfortable with intimacy. As I explain it now it seems manufactured, but once I had a strong idea of who she was, Lexie would interact with me. She would agree or disagree with my choices for her. She would argue with Skylar. Skylar would respond and I would jot it all down.

The more I was willing to interact with my characters, the more they grew in dimension, and the faster they lifted off the page becoming energies not entirely under my control. Now all my characters talk to me. It is part of the magic that can happen. If I listen and record, and try not to direct, judge, or change them, everything flows. I can ask them questions like how they feel about a direction I want to take or if they ever had an experience, and they’ll answer. When I try to tell them what to do, if I try to direct or manipulate my characters, I get stuck. They resist and they are always right.

My second novel, the book I am currently writing, has numerous characters. Each is very distinct and developed in my head, but I struggled with one. She did not and would not speak to me. I could not see her, but another character spoke for her. I argued with him, and tried to write out her story. Nothing would come. When I gave up trying to “write her” my other character told me she was dead. I could not write her story because she could not speak to me. She would never be a breathing character; she would only be spoken of.

I get that these characters are my creations. I even see how I have used people in the world around me as a launching point. But my characters are known to me, not as written constructs, but as life-like energies that exist inside my head. They are born. They live, love and sometimes they die. How this happens is not always of my choosing.

I began writing with the belief I would be in the driver’s seat. Now the process feels more like I am the recorder of someone else’s story. In real life I am honored by a friend’s willingness to reveal themself to me; in my writing world I am humbled by my characters willingness to do the same. There is an exchange. They touch my heart; my characters change me.

When you read “Seascape”, if Skylar, Lexie, and Mack step off the pages, and enter your mind, and if in doing so they impact your heart, I want you to know I could not create or manipulate that experience if I tried. That only occurs for the reader because the similar thing happened to me as a writer.

I call that magic!

Next week I’ll post pictures of my beautiful office and describe my mechanics of writing – including beverage consumption, duration of writing sessions, and how I deal with interruptions and procrastination.