This is something I’ve heard countless times in my writing career, if you can call it that. It’s the same mentality that Field of Dreams uses: If you build it, they will come. What the Hell am I talking about? Well, let me elaborate a bit. When I was looking into getting my book out there through self publishing means, many people told me “Just put it out there and somebody will read it.” I’ve also heard this from industry professionals.
Now, that may have been how those people became successful, and there’s definitely some merit to it. After all, nobody can see it if it’s not out there for people to see. Was that confusing? Before I lose my point, let me circle back to my main point. Just putting your work out there often isn’t enough, at least in my experience. When I published Lizzy, I didn’t have much, if any help in terms of marketing or spreading the word, and based on what others had said, the naive little me thought, I can just put this up for sale and watch the bucks roll in! No.
Now, If you read another one of my posts, you’ll remember me saying I didn’t write Lizzy for monetary gain. It was for me. However, it was still a lot of work, and I poured everything I had into that book, and I indeed wanted to share it. And hey, I wasn’t going to complain if it made a bit of cash. But sadly, that wasn’t and still isn’t the case. Sales on Lizzy are nearly non-existent, even on free giveaways and sales through Amazon. I’m okay with it, as I’ve said. Though, it would be cool to see a few people pick it up.
It was through that experience that I’ve learned, just doing something isn’t enough. Writing, or creating is only half the battle. The other half, the most treacherous part (eh, eh, throw back to blog one.) is the marketing. Chances are if you’ve written a book, or painted a canvas, or recorded a song, whatever, you’re good at it, at least a little. And as hard working and creative as you are, spreading the word is quite difficult. Personally, I’m not sycophantic enough to get in everybody’s face and hard sell my book, and so I struggled with getting sales.
If I could offer any advice on this topic, it would be team up, or hire a professional. I know, it’s conflicting. I like to keep my work pretty private, and sharing it isn’t easy for me, so when I do, I kind of want to have full control. I think a good chunk of artists are like that. But I’m just not good at all aspects of creativity – marketing and business falls into that realm. After Lizzy, I was a bit shell shocked as to how poorly it was doing, but I didn’t have the slightest clue on where to start to make it better. Sure, I had “agents” and “marketers” call me and offer their services… For $3000. With no guarantees. These people make me sick. Avoid them at all costs. Those aren’t the professionals I’m talking about.
General rule when dealing with agents, never pay somebody up front for it. That goes for model, acting, singing, or any kind of agent. They should only get paid when you do. There’s more drive for them to find you work if they don’t get paid until they find whatever it is you want. Paying a guy 3000 bucks up front to “publish and market your work” pretty much sucks away any drive he has to find you work. He’s got his cash, why would want to lift a finger? As far as I know, there isn’t much of a law on this topic. He asked for money, you gave it – and unless it says in writing, signed by both parties, that you’re guaranteed to have your work picked up and sold within a certain time frame, stay away from these jokers.
There are plenty of services out there that will get your stuff self published. Amazon’s good for it, and they have the branding within the name. Createspace is alright for the hard copy publishing, but I don’t fully trust them. I know that friends have bought Lizzy, fairly recently too. And its sales tracking has said that 5 have been sold. Only five, over the last year or so. When in the last few months more than 5 people have told me they bought it. Be careful with them too.
Anyway, I’ve sort of drifted. It happens. Tangents and such. The long and short of it is, the work doesn’t end when the art stops. Yes, get your work out there, but don’t expect everybody to fall in love with it and buy it without some extra elbow grease on your end. Don’t be discouraged though, keep at it. Don’t give up, whatever you do. That’s what they want… whoever they are.
I have some things in the works in the coming weeks. More interviews, maybe a series I’ve been writing for years, and maybe, just maybe a podcast of sorts. We shall see, and only time will tell!