Thursday, 28 July 2011

The eternal dilemma of the indie author...

I've got a signed photo of Jackie Collins on my desk that says "To Michelle, Stay Lucky! Jackie Collins" and I look at that photo every day and try to be inspired by it.  Usually it works, but I've not had a particularly good week this week. I've had people argue the toss with me over whether self-publishing is the right route to go down, low books sales, and a week of banging my head against the proverbial brick wall trying to get people who have bought my books to leave reviews!  I need more followers for both my blog and Twitter but neither seems to be forthcoming, and I spend every evening wondering if I shoud still be sat at my desk rather than trying to chill out and forget all that for a few hours!  All in all I'm feeling a little despondent as we head towards another weekend. 

In reality, ever since I started out as an Indie author (and that was only a couple of months ago) I spend practically every hour of every day thinking about how I can market my book, sell myself, become more interesting so that people may actually become intrigued enough to take a look at my writing - and it's bloody exhausting!  And do you know the one thing I haven't done that much of at all in those couple of months since I self-published?  I haven't written anything of any significance, and I hate the fact that I haven't been able to just sit down, put everything else to the back of my mind and write.

My husband said to me at the beginning of this week that maybe it was time to just take a step back from the marketing for a few days and sit down and concentrate on my next book and I really wanted to do that.  When he left for work on Monday morning after giving me that piece of advice I was all ready to concentrate solely on writing this week but have I been able to do that? Have I hell! I wanted to, I really did, but I seem to have an ability to forget about the fact I'm an indie author and indie authors are completely in control of selling their own books, therefore if I'm not out there trying to get people to buy them or follow my blog or whatever else is needed in order to try and get my name known, I feel guilty!

But, and let's think about this rationally, would it really make such a difference if I just stepped back for a few days and did the one thing I actually came into this business to do?  And that's write. Would it really make a difference if I missed a couple of days blogging or didn't mention my books or the fact I'm a writer for a day or two?  Probably not, but as an indie author I feel as though it might. I start to get despondent at the lack of followers on my blog, or the fact I haven't got a huge Twitter following, and they are totally irrational feelings but again, as an indie author, it's up to you to create your own popularity and if I don't seem to be popular, is that my fault?  Am I so uninteresting that nobody wants to follow me, read my blog or buy my books?  Who knows.  It's not easy being an indie author, and as someone who doesn't have a huge set of friends or a family that is totally supporting her, I do feel a little more alone than maybe other writers do and therefore feel as though I need to be working twice as hard as I already am.  But deep down inside, all I want to do is write.

Before I became an indie author, I spent every day writing.  I'd get up, sit myself down at my desk and completely lose myself in the world I'd created and I was the happiest I'd ever been.  I absolutely loved writing about characters that became so real to me I dreamt about them, for months at a time I lived their lives because I was writing their stories and I couldn't have thought of anything else I'd rather have been doing.  My first book especially, 'No Matter What', was the kind of book I truly lived, because the characters in there had been created almost 20 years ago, it was a story that had been in my head since the early 90's and when I finally got it down on paper and saw it as a completed novel I was so happy, so proud that I had managed to do that.  And with a follow up to that story already 86 pages in I so want to go back to that time when I just sit down and write and involve myself in that other world, but being an indie author now means that I also have a dilemma as to what I should be writing.

I write in two genres - romance and chick lit.  Which one do I feel more comfortable in?  Well, both, to be honest.  But even that gives me concerns - is it possible to write in more than one genre and manage to be good at both?  Both my books are completely different novels, written in different styles and probably aimed at different audiences, so have I made things more difficult for myself by doing that?  By writing two completely different books that may have to be marketed differently?  Again, who knows.  All I know is that I write what I love to write, whatever genre that may be in.  At the minute I have 3 more books already started (all planned - storylines and characters sorted, everything) one romance, two chick lit, and that sit-com I've always wanted to write (the one that will NEVER be commissioned but who cares? I want to write it so I'm going to!) is still on my mind, and the biggest problem I seem to have now is focusing on one thing and sticking with it.

I want to write - and I know the book I want to concentrate on writing - but once again that dilemma of the indie author is still hanging over me.  Do I step away from marketing for a little while and just throw myself into writing for a change, get back to why I'm doing this in the first place - because I love to write - or do I continue to battle on with the constant need to think of new marketing strategies, drum up more followers, etc. etc.  I know I'll never be as successful as Jackie Collins, but I do want to try and be as successful as I possibly can.  Now I just have to try and work out how I can do that, and still do the one thing I love - write.

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