After months, or even years of incubating, brainstorming, plot forming, typing away your days, and sacrificing precious morsels of your life for the greater good of your project, you put the finishing touches to your book baby and sent it out through Amazon’s birth canal…
If you’re like me, it goes a bit like this:
*Rides tsunami publishing high for 24-48 hours*
*Refreshes Amazon every 3-5 minutes to check ranking*
*Until that moment when the numbers start to get bigger again*
*rank plummets as if book baby were an anchor in the Mariana Trench*
*cue depression, self-loathing, heavy drinking perhaps, followed by tantrums, whining, tears, more drinking, etc*
Somewhere around a week postpartum, suddenly, that shiny and new, precious lil book cherub starts to keep you up at night. You feel inadequate, worried that you may have overestimated your abilities. You wonder what in f*ck’s name you were thinking when you decided to become a book-mom-or-dad in the first place, because you obviously aren’t fitting the bill. You aren’t rich yet. Your ARCs bailed on you, or a lot of them did. You let people down because your baby didn’t come out the way they wanted. They were hoping for curly locks, but yours came out with straight, black hair and a funny birthmark that looks like a middle finger. Who knew? You curse yourself, embarrassed because you should’ve seen it coming. You should’ve prepared better. Maybe you should’ve paid the extra bucks for one of those fancy genetics Docs to enhance its DNA with bells and whistles and curls and what-have-you, so that he and she and they would all be happy and love you and all your book babes for all eternity.
But alas, the realizations come.
a) You did the best you could do, and that’s all you could do,
b) Maybe, you didn’t.
Both of these realizations are difficult to swallow. With the first, it’s both frustrating and empowering, because DAMN. There is nothing more you could’ve done. How your baby is received into the world is out of your control. But also–> DAMN! You did a hell of an amazing job, because you did everything you could do. You ate the right foods, you did water aerobics and took your prenatal vities. You read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting (a new book baby)” and you did your new-parent homework. You painted the room, got the crib, bought the clothes, purchased the toys, the whole shebang. Meaning, you had it professionally edited and formatted. You got a nice, professional-looking cover that was eye-catching and fit your genre. You had it correctly formatted, you set up your marketing and book promos ahead of time, you did your Thunderclap, HeadTalker campaigns, etc. You played nice with other authors and readers, treating them with kindness, and respect. You had every single base (that you knew of) covered. You should be proud of your amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back for all of this awesomeness, because you are an absolute rockstar.
Before we move on to the book baby blues, let’s address b: Maybe you didn’t.
I read a post the other day in a FB group I’m in, where the author was pleading for help. He was suffering from a big case of Book Baby Blues, and needed some direction. Upon reading the comments and checking out his books on Amazon, a few things clicked into place. This author had been so focused on quantity—publishing book after book after book as fast as humanly possible–that he had let quality slip, big time. His books were not edited; they were riddled with errors. His covers were not great. His characters were flat and lifeless, IMO, a byproduct of not enough incubation in the writer-womb. Oh, and he didn’t have a mailing list, which is a huge must-have for success as an indie author. (More on building your mailing list to come)
I’ve also witnessed talented authors with great books, or aspiring authors, be total asshats to others, not carrying themselves in a kind and professional manner, and I just cringe, inwardly, because that is not good for business. Would a store manager have repeat customers if he was a jerk to everyone who came in his store? That old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is true. For the most part, people are attracted to others who are kind, thoughtful, honest, and don’t try to cheat them. I can’t express enough how utterly important integrity and respect are in building your brand, your network, and your fan base. If you want to be successful, you have to cultivate some gosh darn people skills, mmkay? Even if people are ugly to you, you have to conduct yourself in a professional manner, otherwise Karma will come back one day and bite you, and you will regret your a$$hole ways, I promise. Here’s a good book to help with that. 😉
Being successful at anything is a delicate balance of light and dark. Patience and realistic expectations are key, as are willingness to see your faults and weaknesses, and learning from your mistakes. In order to improve your craft, these are vital. If something isn’t working for you the way you’d like for it to, then perhaps it’s time to try something different. SLOW Dooooooowwwwnnn. Take your time with your book babes to ensure you’re outputting the best possible product you can. YES, getting a book professionally edited, formatted, and covered is expensive. YES, it is worth every penny in the long run. You’re building a brand, and you want your readers to expect quality products from you with faith that that’s what you’ll deliver. The answer is not always ‘more books, faster.’ Sometimes the answer is ‘more patience,’ or ‘more time.’ Only when you are truly honest with yourself will you see what that ‘more’ is for you.
But for those of you who have done this, and have still arrived at the Book Baby Blues, my answer is this: Give yourself a break. Maybe take a day off–you deserve it. Give credit where credit is due. Keep your expectations reasonable and realistic. Building a successful business and brand takes time, sacrifice, patience, more time, money, tears, sometimes blood, perhaps therapy, more time, immense passion, determination, and SCREW YOU GUYS IMA DO THIS THANG NO MATTER WHAT stick-to-itiveness.
You’ll get there.
One step at a time.
Progress, not perfection, is a reasonable expectation.
Most books do better when they are first released. Just because your rank is falling now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. With each new book you publish (that is quality), your overall sales will increase. Books do sell books, yes. But not if they aren’t quality books, which is why that is so important. Your rank will ebb and flow, but as long as you continue to put your best foot forward, you’ll continue to build a business and brand–and publish book babies–that you’re proud to put your name on. Enjoy this journey, even the hard parts, because one day you’ll look back and see that it was in those darkest moments that you were pushed to grow, to believe, to persevere, and to perhaps, choose a better path. It’s in those times that we are driven to search for the light, to move toward it, and to shine in this world in a way that only we can. And THAT . . . is what’s most important.
Do you have experience on this topic? Spill your thoughts in the comments below.
And you can check out my books on Amazon here: