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Making the Most of What You Have

Selling your writing in 13 weeks, week 12

You can't have everything you want.  Learn to make the most of what you have. You can't have everything you want. Learn to make the most of what you have.

My grandmother was a great one for making the most of what you had.  Things got mended and sewn, and made to serve another turn.  In another sense, too, she was one for making the most of what you have.  One of her sayings was “when you lose heart, run on your gut.”

Recently on my blog, I got accused of being Irish for essentially saying the equivalent of “the food is terrible in this establishment, but I keep coming back because the portions are so large.”

The weird thing is that in the world of indie publishing these are good things.

I recently took a marketing class with WGM publishing.  Did it tell me much that I didn’t know?  No.  But sometimes it’s important to get a confirmation of what you know to be true through someone else’s eyes.

We’ll return to this again because there is another point there – that the field is shifting so fast that sometimes you see things changing and you can’t be sure if it’s changing just for you or for everyone else.  And you can’t tell if it’s a trend or a bleep like the ridiculously low sales figures over summer.

So you take classes, or you get together with friends to talk how sales are going, or you throw out an SOS on indie publisher boards – to see how it’s going and what’s worked for other people.

The main thing I learned is that the old ways don’t seem to work.  I was talking to a friend about this and I pointed out that from what I’ve seen, unless you have the kind of money that can blanket the airwaves and tv stations with advertisements; unless you can put an ad up on Time Square, unless you can give your book the send off party to end all send off parties… don’t bother.

It used to be that you could give your book a relatively solid send off by having parties at a few of the larger conventions, or by going to BEA and charming the book sellers.  You still can, to an extent, if you have a publisher behind you, pushing all the way.  (Though I’m not sure how effective that is – and neither is anyone else, because the metrics are slippery.)

To an extent publicity has always bedeviled authors.  Readers approach reading as a personal relationship to the author, and it’s very hard to create those with any sort of one-size-fits-all campaign.

Some people I knew back in the nineties hired publicists.  I tried to hire one.  But even the expensive ones didn’t seem to have any clue how to promote my books.  I remember one in particular who, three years after the Shakespeare Series crashed and burned and just before the last of them was taken off print designed this entire proposed marketing campaign based on… my writing about Shakespeare for Academic journals to promote these books.  Forget that writing for academic journals was a career in itself, and one I didn’t want, I couldn’t seem to get these people to understand the books were out of print, a death more final than that of any mortal body.