So, you got a book that you're relatively proud of. Friends and family seem to like it. You go out of your way to self-publish: hunting down a designer, editor, distributor, and printer. You design and pay for business cards, a website, and other marketing material. You establish yourself as a publisher, get your DBA, and secure ISBNS. Then you're like, "Who is even going to know my name or care about my book?" And the fretting begins...
Since you are a self-publisher, you find out that you have to be your own publicist too if you're ever going to get your name out there. That means, you have to book your own "gigs" at libraries, schools, book, and toy stores. You realize that you have to supply your book to local libraries for free. During your "down time", you make arrangements to set up booths at fairs and farmer's markets (selling your stuff for 1/2 price at least). You think about doing readings in other cities, and even land a sale for a few books in a random store in the next state over.
Then taxes come and you realize that you have been paying out more than you have made, and you wonder how long that will last. You understand that you are a newbie, and still need to climb the ladder to reap even an inkling of what you've sowed. Suddenly the idea of being your own publicist seems like a necessity, but will it really help?
I myself don't mind doing all that publicity stuff, but I really can't my head around all the new technology. I don't want to learn more about how to use social media to my benefit, much less master it. I guess I'm old-fashioned that way.
Everyone says I'll get burned if I don't get with the times. It's just that, computers and the constant learning curve just triggers me; it gets me pissed of, to be honest. And when I'm in a ka-ka mood, I can't write children's literature with a pure, childlike heart! That is when I feel like writing blog posts complaining about having to delve into social media in order to get noticed. Thank goodness I know how to assimilate into FB, and have the where-with-all to always carry my phone around so that I can capture any spontaneous photo ops.
So, yeah, I need to put myself out there more. And I will try, I really will. But to make it a job? I can't do that. If I could do that, I might as well be working in an office like I used to instead of doing what I like the most...writing.
One day I was convinced to take my kids to the mall for some much-needed junk. At some point, we found ourselves waltzing into Barnes and Noble for my daughter had heard that they had a diverse toy section upstairs. While the kids were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the plethora of boxed science experiments, pop figures, and 500+ piece puzzles, I perused the children's book section. And I thought to myself, how can I get my books in here? As it stands now, my books are offered in many different online bookstores, Audible, and a few gift stores. But to have them available in a bona-fide brick and mortar bookstore? That would be icing on the proverbial cake.
After the kids picked out their treasures, we went downstairs to the reference desk. I asked the representative how in the world I could get a copy of my book in their stores, as it was already on their online Nook bookstore. She seemed disinterested in helping me at first, but then my kids ran up to me asking for cookies from the B&N Starbucks. The representative was immediately drawn to my children, thinking that they were special in that they were in a bookstore rather than a video game store (which we had already hit up beforehand). She began asking them questions about their favorite books, and authors. The children stared blankly at her, until one of them belted out, "Hoagie & Katie!!"
Thus began our conversation about my book, website, audiobook, etc. I was very fortunate to actually be talking with a B&N book buyer, and after handing her my H&K business card, she simply informed me that she would have someone call me once the book was on the shelves. I didn't know what to do with myself, as I couldn't believe it had been so easy. I thought I would have to haggle, open up my website on her computer, set up a meeting to show her hard copies of the books...you know, beg. Then she did the unthinkable. She told the kids to choose their favorite cookie and she'd take care of the payment!
As the greedy kids ran off to choose their booty, I stood there stunned and grateful, offered my thanks, and tip-toed away hoping I wouldn't break the spell.
Guess what? She delivered. A few weeks later, I got a call stating my book was on their "Local Favorites" shelf in the children's section! Now I know the secret, bring my kids with me to do the marketing for H&K!
Have you ever written a book, edited it, had it professionally edited, sent it to numerous readers for approval/suggestions, and even went so far as to publish the project only to later realize that there are more edits/re-writing to be done?! Part of you says, "Screw it! It's good enough." The other perfectionist part of you insists, "back to the drawing board...let's do this (again)!"
The editing never ends, it seems. Thankfully, I have finally come to a place where I know I need to just...stop. This is where I'm at with the second installment of Hoagie & Katie in Space. I learned a valuable lesson to never promise anything to children, as they will call you on it.
Case in point: My daughter's 2nd grade class had been chomping at the bit to have H&K/Space available to purchase by Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, I promised goods I couldn't honor due to all the recent revisions on text and illustrations. The kids weren't having it, and bombarded me with questions, accusations, and long faces. I tried to employ an exercise as a "teachable moment", relaying writer tactics, obstacles, and logistics. I even showed them my pathetic marked up copy of my proof to instill empathy in their stony hearts. Their cold stares bore right through me and only softened when I promised new bookmarks as soon as the book came out.
Sorry, Bolton Primary second graders, I tried, I really did. Please forgive me. I was just trying to make the book more readable for your little ears. Make the pictures pop for your little eyes. Don't fault me Masters, but it's looking like Easter will be our new launch date with a new and improved paperback format to boot! Trust me, I think you're gonna like it!