Monday, December 26, 2016

A Look Back

This year has been a number of things for me. It has been they year I finally published the second book in my anthology series, the year I was offered full time at my day job and the year a good friend was taken far too soon. As with any other year it has been a rollercoaster ride. Even all of the things mentioned have come with their own ups and downs to make the ride that much more interesting. As I prepare for the coming year I am looking back on some of the goals I had created to see just how my ambition and my follow through stack up against one another.

I did not accomplish many of the things I set out to do which is frustrating but at the same time I did make progress. I planned to finish writing Sharing Strength which I did as well as Chocolate Covered Cherries which I did not. I wanted to publish a new book and I can put a check by that although it is not the one I had in mind. I did use my beta readers more however forward progress stopped with them. I have four full manuscripts sitting around waiting to have final edits done and then either be submitted or published myself. Both of which require some form of dedication and in the publishing realm a good deal of learning as well.

Fitness levels have maintained but I was hoping to push forward with both weight loss and challenge levels. I have since transferred both to the new year and will try again. I know it may see odd to discuss my health goals on a blog about writing but honestly I think the two go hand in hand. It is important to focus on all aspects of yourself in order to be as well rounded and accomplished overall as possible. I also have financial goals I am still working on. I made strides forward but have yet to reach the peak of Goal Mountain. For me it is imperative that I not scold myself for falling short but instead find why I did not completely succeed and use that knowledge to push even further next year.

Everything for me comes back to writing and the dream I have of following my passion to a full time career at some point. I love my day job but if I was sure I could make it as a writer I would hand in my notice tomorrow. Until that time I will continue to keep an eye on where I have been to learn for where I am going and one day hopefully say those magical words, I am a full time author!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Marketing Tip - Buy Me, Buy My Book

I cannot say that I attend as many book signings or events as many of my fellow authors but I have been to enough to make one observation I stand by wholeheartedly, you must look the part as well as create the products. I have been to art shows with numerous artists and have seen people there wearing everything from torn jeans and t-shirts to suits and ties. Those that present themselves with a sense of dignity and polished professionalism always seem to do better.

I understand that as an author I may spend a great deal of my time sitting around in pajama bottoms and a tank top with my computer sitting on my lap but when I get in front of an audience I am dressed quite differently. I don't go all the way to formal but I do wear a nice pair of pants or a skirt and a classier shirt with dress shoes. I make sure that the person standing in front of my books is a person I would buy from if the situation were reversed.

We are told throughout our lives not to judge books by the cover and as an author this has several meanings to me. It doesn't change the fact however that first impressions make a huge impact on everything we think about books, businesses and even people. If I go shopping at a craft show and the person didn't care enough to change out of their stained jeans or t-shirt with the holes in it I am less inclined to take them seriously. On the other hand I would struggle to believe in a builder that showed up in pressed slacks and a button down shirt. It is important to look the part for whatever activity you are trying to do.

Once I have gotten someone to my table and feel comfortable that I look as much like an author as I can, I must sell them on my speaking, presentation and ability to communicate my work. When someone buys a book from me they rarely do it without talking to me first. They get a piece of me with the book. They are in essence purchasing part of me and my story along with the story they hold in their hands. It is just as important that I use that time to connect with them so I can sell myself along with my book. Selling is in every aspect of what we do. They won't always buy a book if they like me but if I cannot get them interested in me at all then they will almost never buy a book I have created.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Your Own Worst Critic

Last weekend I attended a local author signing at a Barnes & Noble near my house. It ran Saturday and Sunday from eleven until two with different authors filling the tables each day. Many of my friends chose to take part Saturday believing there would be more traffic than Sunday but because of my day job schedule I attended Sunday instead. From what I have heard the amount of traffic was about the same on both days. Some authors sold significantly more while others like myself were more greeters than sellers.

Approximately halfway through the event I found myself looking around at the four other tables and playing a horrible game in my head called How Are They Better Than Me? It is an involuntary game I play where I compare my sales, abilities or some other aspect of myself to those around me. The group I was with consisted of a woman that wrote a series currently being optioned for a television show, an Indie author that also has worked with Harlequin books for over a decade but does her own Indie books as well and a local Indie publisher with more than ten titles and four authors on hand so one can stand out in front and intercept any person approaching the area before they might get to someone other than his group.

I was intimidated to say the least. I did end up making some sales and handing out swag and business cards but I was on the verge of tears for almost an hour while this horrible comparison played out in my head. It is unhealthy. It is unnecessary and frankly it is just plain irritating to go through that. For me there are aspects of this mentality I fight daily. Those that have followed me know I have the anxiety disorder PTSD and battle with dramatic self esteem issues everyday but this particular case goes deeper than that. I know so many people that struggle with one area of their life or another and it is because we compare ourselves to others without knowing the entire story then judge ourselves based on our own skewed perceptions.

We drive ourselves crazy and I am hoping to make real progress in ending the cycle in the coming year. There will always be someone doing things better, making it look easier and finding success where we flounder. It is just important to remember that while you are watching someone make things look easy in front of you there is probably someone staring at you from behind thinking the exact same thing.