There are a lot of opinions and stances regarding what I'm about to talk about. I'll be honest here: What you're about to read is a whine. I normally try to keep my whines under some form of control, but you know what? Screw it. I'm going to give you all a very real glimpse of the crap that goes on through my head when I'm not being as up front about everything as you think I am.
Because there's still a whole lot of stuff I experience, think, and feel that doesn't make it online.
This is a whine about some of the consequences of my choices, work ethic, and decision to try to do a promotional extravaganza for my novel release.
I'll start off with why I have made the choices I have made.
I want to succeed.
I want to someday be a bestselling author. (For my birthday would be so cool.)
I want to be an author people love reading.
I want my books to be loved.
Hell, let's face it, I want to be loved. Love me! Love me all of the time!
I have motivation for putting up with the stuff I'm doing in spades. If I don't succeed at some point soon–and by success, I mean make minimum wage–I'll have to try to break back into the work force here, where I'm overqualified for things like flipping burgers at McDonald's and under-qualified (and out of the work force for too long) for a lot of the things I actually have experience or training at doing. Did I mention I'd have better odds if I spoke French? I've tried to learn French multiple times, but I'm stupid. In one ear, out the other, and it never sticks.
That means I won't be able to write. I'll pick at it, of course, writing a little bit here, and a little bit there, but I'll be down to one release every year or two.
I'll have to abandon my novelist career. That's reality.
Bills need paid, and I need to make minimum wage to do it.
Scary thoughts. Big Motivations.
You know it's bad when I make a half-assed effort at Doge poetry.
When I approached my release day extravaganza, I had a budget and my eye on the prize. (I overspent my budget by $39 dollars. Frankly, it's miraculous I didn't overspend by more.)
I didn't think about the insane amount of work I would have to do to make my aspirations a reality.
This amount of promotional work is not easy. It's hard. It's work. It's time consuming work. I spent the entirety of last week working on it. From the moment I soft-launched Inquisitor, until yesterday, my life was consumed by all of the background stuff needed to make this launch a success.
And there is no guarantee it will be.
That truth hurts, and I think it is why many authors just choose not to try this route. It's expensive. Over $500 in promotional costs, with absolutely no guarantee of success, is a terrifying investment for a nobody self-published author. That's over a month of editorial work and effort, tossed up in the air, in the frail hope it turns into something good.
Like me becoming a bestselling author for my birthday.
That's the risk and the reward.
That's my motivation, and the consequences. Do or die, although it's more of a financial death than a literal one–and the death of my career, unless one of the other novels I release this year does really well.
Inquisitor was my best hope. It's my first Urban Fantasy thriller, and has been compared to the Dresden Files. My other novels are more niche. There aren't quite as many folks interested in it.
If I'm making a push, I need to make it with this book. I don't think the others are as safe of a bet.
I don't have the money to pay for this sort of promotional investment twice, not unless the books pay for their own promotional investments.
Do, or die.
Try flew out the window when I decided it was time to make this a reality.
And the only hope I have of making the risks I'm taking turn into that lusted-for reward is putting in effort and lots of it.
Thought One: My book needs to be good. Good enough isn't enough. It needs to be good. It needs to be great. I've invested a great deal of time and effort on this novel. I've edited it, edited it some more, and when I wanted to cry and throw things at the wall, I edited it again.
Thought Two: But at the end of the day, all I've done with this promotional work is buy a slightly better chance at success.
Painful Reality One: No guarantees.
Painful Reality Two: No promises.
Worst of the Painful Realities: All I did was buy myself a slightly better percentage chance I'll get in front of readers who want to buy books.
Whine of the Day: I have to compete with guys like Jim Butcher. Skin Games releases three or so days before Inquisitor's official launch. I preordered.
I want to cry. I can't compete with Skin Games. I just can't. I know that. It's the freaking Dresden Files.
Maybe one day my Witch & Wolf novels will compare, but today isn't that day. I've yet to prove myself as an established author.
So here's some more painful acknowledgements: I guess the simple truth is, I'm really like everyone else. I'm insecure. I'm prideful. I have enough ego to sink a battleship. And I think the fact I'm stubborn is the only reason I haven't started crying and screaming while throwing random things at the walls.
I'm frustrated, I'm scared, and I'm worried. Anxious with a side dish of paranoia.
I've done the best I can with my promotional things. I still have to email a bunch of people with the buy links for my novel. I have a few guest posts left to write.
But I'm staring at the massive mountain of guest posts, interviews, and things I've already written for this release day extravaganza, only to discover that I haven't even reached the peak yet.
There is so much more left to do.
I work hard because I want to succeed, and I'm terrified that all of my hard work will go to waste. I've invested not just money, but a massive amount of time.
I'm going to rattle some numbers off here, as rough guesses on how much time investment I've put into this. I'm doing this as a reminder to myself about how serious I am about trying to make my career worth something. I'm doing this as a way to make others aware of just how much work is involved.
These are just guesses of the main time sinks, so bear with me:
There is a lot of little things, an hour here, and hour there things, which have eaten time. Like the tracking and reviews for author services. (Those are 2 hours a pop, for example.)
But using the maximum numbers, I've probably invested 52 hours on the promotional aspect of Inquisitor.
52 hours and over $500 on something that may not even work.
And after I did this math, I realized I didn't include the time per group to talk about my needs and how I wanted the promotion to go, and asking questions of the operators, and so on. That takes time. Sometimes a great deal of time. Well, crap. So, plenty more than 52 hours after that.
Anyway, the point is this: I've stacked the cards in my favor.
I've done everything I can.
I have put in a lot of sweat, tears, more tears, more tears, and potentially some blood of my enemies in on this.
You get what you put into it, without guarantee of success, and that freaking sucks.
Insecure much? I sure am. I'm terrified, frankly, clinging onto hope like a drowning swimmer does to a life preserver.
Maybe if I didn't have so much invested, I wouldn't care quite so much that this novel does well. My first mistake may very well have been releasing it on my birthday. I've attached a good thing to another good thing, so I want it to become a great thing. Because how cool would it be to become a bestseller on my birthday?
But what if I don't?
The reality is, I probably won't. It takes a staggering number of sales to become a bestseller. And I want it. I want it so much it hurts.
And along with these worries are some other bothersome realizations:
The Eye of God was an okay book. That's it. It was okay. I'm being honest here. I made a lot of newbie mistakes with it. As time permits, I'm going back and I'm fixing the book. (Seriously, I've finished a whole chapter of tweaking, adding tiny tidbits, and clarifying stuff.)
Storm Without End was a better book.
Inquisitor is an even better book.
That's all good! Really good. I'm writing better books! I want to keep writing better books. I don't want anyone–ever–to say my newest novels didn't live up to my first books. I want people to think, “Wow, these just keep getting better. When's the next one coming out?!”
But here are some facts, and when I got an honest answer from an agent or two about these facts, I was gobsmacked.
Agents want authors who sell. Their quantification for what a selling author is? This is someone who is established, releasing books, and is querying an agent with this in mind.
They want someone who sells books. This means they move 10,000 copies in a month, across all formats.
I'm about in tears if I sell ten in a day.
If I sold 10,000 in a single month, I would make minimum wage twice over.
For the record, I need to sell 135 copies of Inquisitor in the week of its official launch to make all I spent on promotion.
Here is where I'm at now: Less than 10 copies a day.
Here is where I want to go: 135 copies launch week of Inquisitor.
Here is where I really want to be: Making minimum wage.
Yes, I'm whining. Yes, I'm dreaming.
Yes, I want to do everything in my power to make this happen. This is my career. This is what I want to do.
And that is why I haven't given up.
But on days like today, when I'm staring down the barrel of that gun, and realizing that my best might not be good enough, all I really want to do is go to a corner and cry for a while.
I've done everything I can to make my novel–to make me–a success.
The rest is in the hands of fate.