Showing posts with label heartsong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heartsong. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

What I won't do to sell more books

I'm at least moderately at ease with how things are for me as a writer, even though I earn far less than I believe I deserve, mainly because I am not selling many books. (In fact, I plan to reveal everything about my modest self-publishing sales quite soon...)

I know there are things I could do which would make me sell more books.
  1. Stop writing so many different sorts; focus on one genre and write lots within it. (There'd be nothing wrong with that but I happen to want to write lots of different things.)
  2. Or cut back on being a writer and bust a gut to do more marketing. (Because as far as I know there are only 24 hours in a day and I can't stay awake for all of them.)
  3. Be strictly market-focused, deliberately tailoring the books I write to have a far greater mass appeal, even though those are not the books I really want to write. (Nothing wrong with them but they don't beat my heart.)
  4. Ask all my friends, family, blog-readers and Twitter followers to write fantastic reviews on Amazon, even if they haven't read my books. (Ugh.)
  5. Do many more events, and really push my books at them, instead of my usual pathetic, "I've *cough* got some cards here with info about my books, if *cough* *mumble mumble*". (Sigh.)
  6. Spatter Twitter with BUY MY BOOK messages instead of spending 99% of my time there talking about other things and making friends. (Ugh.)
  7. Care much less about what people think of me. (Impossible.)
But if I did any of those things, I wouldn't be the writer or the person I want to be. That's why I'm and have to be at least passably at ease with the way things are for me. Yes, I think I'm worth much more money than I earn; no, I wouldn't say no to selling more books; yes, I already do more than I'd like to in terms of marketing; yes, I think I work as hard and as well as most people on substantial salaries. But I chose to be a writer and anyone who goes into writing with a direct intention of becoming rich is not my sort of writer, or my sort of person. I never did think I'd be rich, though I couldn't have predicted the shocking fall in author income that has happened in the last few years.

There is something else that might have been on that list but I could not bring myself even to suggest it in case you thought I would actually consider it even in the same breath as those other things. And that is the idea - much spoken of recently and I won't put the links here because you either know about it or you are better not knowing - of setting up fake accounts, "sock-puppet" accounts on Amazon, for example, to give yourself deceitful 5* reviews or your rivals 1* star reviews. The idea sickens me. It's mendacious and greedy and wrong. 

But even apart from that, there are lines I personally don't want to cross, things I don't want to do in the quest for sales, fame and fortune. I don't want to lose sight of the fact that writing is about the books and the readers. It's not about how many copies I sell but about how much my readers get out of my books. It's not about marketing and money but about a passion for words. It's not all about me. (I read the fascinating interview with Will Self - he says almost the opposite and I slightly envied him and certainly don't disparage his view. It's probably why he might win the Booker and I won't!)

Anyway. Back to the point. I get a massive buzz out of writing, and out of someone reading and liking one of my books. Of course, I also get a massive buzz when someone likes it enough to bother to write an Amazon review (or anything at all) and when that review encourages others to buy. I hope the buzz I get while writing makes my writing better and the buzz I get from good feedback keeps me writing more.

But without an ethical stance and an adequate measure of integrity, that buzz would feel more like a whine. A nasty wasp instead of a gentle bumble bee. I need to be at ease with the writer and person I am. At this point I was horribly tempted to say, "The only way is ethics", but actually I don't exactly think it's about ethics, although faking reviews is. There's nothing unethical about doing many other things to generate more sales.

So, not ethics, but what gives you heartsong. I've written about heartsong before. The lack of it made me ill. Being published gave it back to me. So, perhaps you'll say, "So, it is all about you, then?" If I look deep inside, then yes, I think it was all about me. But it's not now. Now it's about books and readers and it's about quality, not quantity. I've come to that conclusion, that resting point. Yes, if a commercial publisher took me on and planned to push my books hard, I'd enter into that energetically, but my self-published books? No, I just can't bring myself to shout any louder. I wouldn't enjoy it.

And that's why I'm fairly at ease with how things are.

Having said that, I wouldn't say no to any of you buying my books and generating some more sales for me! I'm not entirely stupid...