Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Indie Author roller coaster ride continues...

As an unknown indie author - well, that writing journey isn't an easy one. As JK Rowling has already proved this week, if nobody knows your name then the chances of anyone picking up your book and taking a look at it is fairly low. Very low, actually. When she released a crime novel under a pseudonym it only (only???) sold around 1500 copies, but now she's been revealed as the real author it's suddenly shot up that bestseller's list faster than the proverbial rat up a drainpipe, for want of a better phrase. So, this proves once again that, quite frankly, if your name is known then you could probably release anything and people would buy it, just because they're familiar with you. And I find that kind of sad, really. But not surprising. That's the world of publishing for you, and that appears to be what readers want - a name. Someone they recognise. Does that mean a lot of readers are missing out on a lot of great books from authors they've never heard of before? Yeah, it does. But that's their choice.

Anyway, as far as my own personal writing journey is concerned, I appear to have hit a brick wall. This time last year I was selling pretty well. All my books across the board were doing okay, some were even doing great. But I was always, always nervous that that bubble would burst at some point. But it didn't actually burst completely, it just tailed off a bit as Amazon made changes to their algorithms, making it harder for unknown authors to get their books seen. It didn't spell disaster, though. Things just levelled out a bit, and I began to see a steady pattern of sales emerging that wasn't brilliant, but it was good. And for an indie author I was happy. Things were ticking along. And then came July...

Now, I know we here in the UK are currently experiencing a long spell of extremely hot weather (and I personally wish it would bugger off - I'm actually dreaming about snow!) and that can sometimes lead to a drop in sales across the board, for some reason. But I don't think that's the case, not really, not when other people are still selling quite steadily.
I mentioned that I'd noticed a sales pattern emerging over the past few months, and that was a pattern that had stayed pretty steady with not a lot of change. Until July. When it just died on its arse! In the first few days of the month I sold a good handful of books, and things looked like they were going to continue as normal. But then, all of a sudden, sales just stopped. Dead. Nothing, for days. Not one sale. Now, I'm fully aware that this could just be because nobody wants to buy my books at the minute, it happens. I'm not saying I have a God given right to have my books sell. I'm just saying that it feels odd, for everything to just suddenly stop dead. And it's hard, to watch your books fall back into where they were in the beginning, with rankings well below 150,000 - somewhere they haven't been in years. Because I know how hard it is to get them back up those rankings once they fall that far.

I tried lowering the price of two of my books - Striker and See You At The Show - to 99p. They didn't sell one copy between them in days. So I lowered the price again to 77p. Still no sales. Not one. So I'm putting the price back up. Maybe people just don't want steamy sex in this heat, I don't know... Is it disheartening? Yes, it is, I'm not going to lie. But, nobody said this was going to be easy. As an unknown author we have to work a lot harder to get our name out there and our books noticed, and maybe I just haven't been as visible as I should have been. But it's difficult to juggle that writing time with marketing/blogging, etc. It's hard. And I'm not a natural salesperson. Or someone who likes blowing my own trumpet, even though I'm proud of each and every one of my books. Very proud.

So, I'm having a rubbish sales period. Do I sit in a corner crying, eating endless Bounty Bars feeling sorry for myself? Don't think I haven't thought about it. The idea of doing nothing but sitting in a darkened room (to keep the heat out, mainly...) watching old episodes of 'Knots Landing' and repeats of Comedy Central's 'Threesome' (Emun Elliot ... Yes please!!! Now he'd cheer me right up, he would...) seemed a much better option than continually flogging what feels like a dead horse. However, I've come way too far to give up now. I'm experiencing a lull in sales - so what? So are thousands of other unknown authors just like me. I'm nothing special - I'm just an extremely small fish in a bloody huge pond and if I want to get noticed then I have to work at it. It's just a bit hot at the minute...

Seriously, though, if anything, this lean spell has made me sit up and realise just how much of a roller coaster ride this really can be. An indie author takes nothing for granted. We celebrate the good times when they happen, and when that little bubble bursts we have a moan, then we get right back on that horse, so to speak, and get on with things. I love writing, it's as simple as that. So, I've done the self-pity, the "I must be useless at this because nobody wants to read my books anymore" bout of moaning, and I'm over it now. It is what it is. Things might change, they might not, who knows? All I know is that I love writing - it's all I've ever wanted to do, and it's what I hope to continue doing for many more years to come. It's my dream. And if I want to keep going then I just have to ride this roller coaster and take the ups with the downs. I've experienced both, and I suspect that's one pattern that will never change.

On a positive note, though, I seem to have lost a tiny bit of weight since I gave up the weeknight glasses of wine. Every cloud and all that...

And I'd also like to say that, sometimes, when low periods like this are experienced, it reminds me of how amazing some of my fellow authors can be. I'll never take their support for granted. Thank you, guys...

And as for JK Rowling... well, now that she's had a (very small) taste of what it's like for the majority of writers out there, she should sit back and realise how extremely lucky she, and others like her, are. The rest of us can only dream...



Right, I'm off to open another window, and pray for rain...




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