First, let me be clear about what I didn’t get: a contract with Kindle Press. Nope, I didn’t get enough votes to have my novel, The Depth of Beauty, promoted by that entity. Was I disappointed about that? Sure. For a while at least. I put a lot of effort (or so I thought) into the thirty-day campaign, and there’s no getting around it: when you set a goal and don’t reach it, that’s a bummer. But here’s what I did get out of the experience:
- A marketing email that will be sent directly to all of those who voted for my book, once it comes out in January. That kind of targeted promotion is something every author craves, so I think it’s a fine “consolation prize.”
Knowledge about a better way to stay “hot.” The way Kindle Scout is structured, you pretty much have to stay “hot” (which means a lot of people are at least checking out your nomination page) for at least three quarters – or more – of the campaign. (That percentage is based on the results from the few books I’m aware of that did pass the threshold.) My book did well the first week, and did well the last week, mainly because I was on a blog tour for my latest contemporary title, The Lair, and at the last minute I added a blurb, link and cover shot of The Depth of Beauty to the blog sites. That generated a lot of traffic both to my website (which you’re on right now) and to my KS nomination page. If I were to submit another title to Kindle Scout, I’d schedule some kind of traffic-generating promotion for all four weeks. As it was, I tweeted a lot and wrote blog and FB posts (plus a few FB ads) during that middle time, but obviously it wasn’t enough.
- A true sense of how much it takes to promote your own work. Being an indie writer and having to wear many hats (besides that of writer) is not for the faint-hearted. Writing coach Suzanne Harris recently wrote about it in a post for yourwriterplatform.com. http://bit.ly/1M5uEmq More than anything, she says, you must stay focused. I can attest to that. More often than not, I find myself spending as much or more time promoting my work as I do writing fiction. Not good. The truth is, no matter how you are published, you must do both. The key, says Ms. Harris, is to work smart so you can make progress in both spheres.
- A reality check. Even if I had spent every day of my Kindle Scout campaign promoting my book, I may not have garnered the nominations I needed to pass the threshold. Why? Maybe my cover wasn’t catchy enough, or my excerpt. I love my professionally designed cover, so I hope it wasn’t that. And I know I write well – of that I have no doubt. But perhaps what I write about, or the way I approached this particular story, just didn’t grab the audience. The Depth of Beauty doesn’t begin with a crime or a sense of danger, an action scene or a man and a woman lusting after each other (that comes later!). No, it begins with, of all things, a leaking box of cream puffs! But that’s how I chose to set the stage for my main character, to show his shallow beginnings in contrast to where he’s at by story’s end. One of the great things about being an Indie writer, by the way, is being able to change your work easily if you feel you need to – prior to publishing, of course. In this case I’m still happy with the editorial choices I’ve made and I stand by my work. But that means I have to suck it up if readers pass it by because it doesn’t grab them right away.
- A renewed enthusiasm for being a writer. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. When I’ve faced writing-related disappointment on other occasions, well-meaning friends have actually said things to me like, “I hope this doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm.” In fact, a setback does the opposite. It spurs me on. Maybe it’s my ego kicking in, but challenges tend to make me want to work even harder. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” right? If I didn’t think I was a good writer with interesting stories to tell, and more importantly, if I didn’t love telling those stories, what would be the point of continuing to write? Fortunately, a growing number of readers are giving me enthusiastic thumbs up, so I know I’m on the right track.
How’s it going for you? Have you had any setbacks in your career (writing or otherwise), and if so, what has the experience prompted you to do? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to writing. Kindle Press or no, I’ve got stories to tell!