Writer, writer, word delighter,
How does your business grow?
Submit and wait an indeterminable length,
You only reap the rewards you sow.
We live in a world of immediacy. Netflix. Microwavable dinners. Downloadable apps. Drive through coffee. On demand. Instant breakfast.
Our writing world is anything but immediate. Forget the painstaking hours, days, months, years it takes to get the words on the paper! It’s once you finish the darn thing that the real waiting begins.
Query an agent? Wait 4 weeks to 4 months! Submit to a publisher and you can just about double that wait time. Contests, grant requests, feedback from a critique partner! We should be called WAITERS, not WRITERS!
As a self-published author I am a one woman team. I am a writing, revising, cover designing, text formatting, book ordering, marketing, selling machine. And up until just recently, I felt like my machine worked very hard for what it got in return. I am very, very proud of my 7 self-published books. I am proud of the 1,800 copies I have sold in less than 3 years. I am proud of the 12+ school visits I booked on my own and all the milestones in between. But I wanted more. I want more.
I want the seeds I planted to grow. I want my business, my dream, my career to bloom and flourish! The thing is, there is no sure-fire, magic bullet, one path to success in the publishing industry. You never know what will work, or that what worked for another author will work for you. So you spend a lot of time and energy and effort (and sometimes money) trying things you aren’t sure will work.
I once spent $800 and two 6 hour car rides to a Geocaching festival to drum up interest for a yet to be published book. (Following the whole: “marketing your book when it’s actually published means you are marketing too late” advice.) It garnered one (really great, Hi John!) fan and book sales to him and his granddaughter… but nothing much else. A bad seed… at least financially.
But here is a seed that did sprout and has grown into something worth writing about. When I published my first books, a dear family friend (Thanks Di!) offered to sell them in her prominent specialty store. After the cost of the books I made a $75 profit. A few months later, a woman who purchased one of my books contacted me to facilitate a young writer’s workshop. I was paid $300, plus 21 books sold. A year later she invited me back to her school district to do a whole school author visit. I was paid $500 and sold 42 books. This spring I am again running the young writer’s workshop for her organization AND running another workshop for a completely new geographic location because she passed my name and information along to someone else. A $5 book sale lead to over $2,000 in speaking events and many books sold. That little seed did very well, but I had no way of knowing that back in December of 2013.
The moral of the story is this. Work hard. Plant your garden full of possibilities. And then, like a good writer… wait.
In July I gave up a girls’ birthday dinner (sorry girls!) to go to a Girl Scout Troop Leader Jamboree and share information on my author visit program and how I can help the troops earn reading and writing related badges. In January I did my first troop visit and sold 21 books. They plan to tell other troops and begged me to let them know when I had something new coming out.
At the State Reading Convention two weeks ago (WSRA) I talked to a museum event coordinator, a librarian, countless teachers and a WSRA employee in charge of state wide author festivals. I recently contacted my local children’s museum about partnering for some projects, emailed several already established authors for tips and joined a very active Facebook group of writers with my same target audience. Who knows what these seeds will grow?
Writer, writer, word delighter, how will your business grow? It depends on how many seeds you plant and how well you cultivate the ones that do push through the tough publishing industry soil. Don’t give up! Keep writing! Keep planting! Keep growing!