I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday afternoon, as I sat in the house during a violent thunderstorm with no electricity and a limited amount of things to do.
But in a way, having no distractions and nothing to take my mind off the things I'd been thinking about for days, it was probably a Godsend. Because, after grabbing my iPod and curling up on the sofa with Joe Bonamassa's beautiful voice and incredible guitar playing filling my head whilst hubby drove round South West Durham in the worst rain I've seen in a long time looking for a camping stove so that we could at least boil some water for a cup of tea, I realised something. And I realised something quite important.
It hit me during the incredible guitar intro to Bonamassa's 'India/Mountain Time', and I knew then that I was going to follow my heart - and do something that made me happy again. Something I need to do. I need to write again.
I've been an independent author for a little over 2 months now. Ok, I've been writing all my life and writing seriously for 2 years, but until you actually start to publish your own books, start to sell your own books - and start to sell yourself as an author - you have no idea, and I mean no idea how hard it really is out there in the world of the indie author. It can be brutal! Ok, so we're not going to war or anything like that, we're only trying to sell books but it's our dream and it's important to us. As I'm sure your dreams are to you. But it's also a dream which is controlled entirely by me. That's what being an independent author means. Controlling what you write, when you write - controlling your own destiny. And that should be a good thing, shouldn't it? Yes, it is. But over the past few weeks I haven't been happy.
It feels to me as though I've been on some kind of treadmill ever since I self-published my first book on Amazon back at the end of May. I've been totally consumed with this almost obsessive urge to market, market, market, doing everything I can to find out more information on how to sell books, how to promote yourself as an author- I've read so much information I feel like my head's exploding! And, believe me, I have learnt so much in these past couple of months that has been both interesting and valuable to know, but the problem is that I've been putting far too much of it into action all at the same time. I've gone on this almost aggressive marketing campaign, concentrating solely on trying to sell books, trying to make my name known - but in the long run I'm not sure whether I'm doing more harm than good. Because sometimes that can happen. And, as a new author just starting out, I can't really afford for that to happen.
I started blogging, which I enjoyed in the beginning, I really did, but after a while it felt as if I was getting up every morning knowing I had to do some kind of blog post and dreading it. Well, ok, not dreading it exactly but I didn't look forward to it. I felt as if it was something I had to do. Something that was necessary in order for me to sell more books when in reality the number of people who've bought any of my books simply from reading my blog is either very, very few or none at all!
Blogging was something I felt I needed to do every day, but in my case I don't think it is. I really don't. I'm not getting enough followers or hits to warrant me making new posts every day, and it was taking up so much of my time, so much of my energy. Time and energy that I wanted to put into my new book, because it's got to the point where I really, really miss not writing every day. I miss escaping into that other world and losing myself in the story and the characters.
So, I made a decision. And this time I'm sticking to it. And in making that decision I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I actually feel happy again!
I'm going to pull back from the marketing and promoting (not stop it entirely, just put my foot on the brake pedal for a while), stop blogging every day - I've actually taken down my latest blog, my mini blog-novel as it was just turning into too much work alongside everything else I wanted to do - and for the next couple of weeks at least, I am going to spend every day just writing. I'm going to finish the last bits of editing on my 3rd completed novel and get that up on Amazon, then I'm going to continue work on the follow up to 'No Matter What', and I absolutely cannot wait to get back to writing that book. Because I also realised something else yesterday - I realised that writing romance is where where my heart truly lies. Yes, I've written one chick lit book with much more emphasis on the lighter side of romance, but I'm truly alive, truly happy when I'm lost in that fantasy world of romantic heroes and strong, glamourous women and...well, I love the total escapism that creates. It's where I love to be, what I find easiest to write. It's what I always wanted to write, and I started writing chick lit because one agent said I needed to write more mainstream, but I'm not doing anything to snare an agent anymore, am I? So I'm writing what I want to write, for a market I know is out there. And I'll find it.
So, decision made. Marketing and promoting will take second place to writing and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am at the thought of getting out of bed in the mornings, sitting at my desk, and just writng the book I have been dying to get back to writing for months now!
And now I'm going back to doing what I love - writing a new book - I feel so much more relaxed about everything, less manic, and less likely to alienate everyone with my constant advertising!! My books are selling, little by little, it's a slow process. But what else did I expect? I just love to write, and I want to write, so I'm going to. My books will be out there, and I am going to promote them, just hopefully in a much more professional and calmer way than I have been doing in the past. I think I need to look carefully at the kind of marketing that will benefit me and work out the best way to go about that, and I need to not be obsessed with sales figures. I want to do the best I can, of course I do, and I just need to sit back and think about how I can achieve that.
I'll still be making the odd blog post here and there when I have something interesting to say, and I'll be making regular updates on my showcase blog as to how my books are coming along, as well as still having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, so I'm not disappearing altogether. I'm just taking a step back from the marketing for a little while so I can fall back in love with writing. That's all. And I can't tell you how great that makes me feel.