I have been a part of the writing industry for almost a year. My first novel was self-published in July of 2014. I look at the person I am today and the person I was back then and I cannot believe how much I have grown and changed…not only as an individual, but also as a writer.
When I first started out, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t realize how important certain things were. I was floundering in a sea of talent, barely keeping my head above the water…barely making a ripple to let others know that I was there.
I’ve made a lot of changes since then. I am constantly learning new things, constantly opening up my mind and my heart to improvement. I know that I am not the best at everything, but that won’t stop me from trying. That won’t stop me from working until I am the best, or as close to it as I can possibly get.
One of the biggest and most difficult lessons to learn was embracing open-mindedness. I’ve always been sensitive; I’ve always been easily discouraged. I had to thicken up my skin in order to accept constructive criticism and learn from it. I had to listen to things I didn’t exactly want to hear in order to improve my approach. That definitely wasn’t easy for me, but the moment I started to actively work on keeping an open mind when someone approached me with constructive criticism, the better I started to get. I would say that I am less sensitive now.
I also had to learn the hard truth that no matter what, you won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. Some people don’t even like tea, at all, and it’s a wonder they even tried yours. You can’t please everyone, and not everybody is going to agree with you. That’s a truth you need to swallow early on, and you need to move on. You won’t change the minds of people who don’t like your book; they are entitled to their opinions. This is why book managers and publishers tell you to focus on your demographic and forget the rest. You’ll go insane trying to make everyone like your book, so don’t waste the energy.
To sell books, you need to be discovered. Being seen is important. I had to stop floundering in the sea of talent and start making waves. I had to talk about my books and my work, and I had to shift my mindset. I am a writer, not only because it’s a hobby, but because I am an entrepreneur. This is my business, my livelihood. That was a hurdle in itself, as I dislike being seen. I have issues being in the spotlight, I have issues receiving attention and I’d much rather curl up under a cozy blanket and just not deal with it, but it’s a pretty damn important aspect to writing. You need to be seen, you need to make waves. I thought my social media presence was “good enough”, but it needed improvement and still does.
Accepting that we are all in constant need of improvement is the first step to open-mindedness. How can you keep an open mind if you refuse to acknowledge that you need improvement? You simply can’t. You have to accept that you don’t know everything, and that’s okay.
Interactions are important. You need to stay relevant and interact with readers and potential readers in order for them to discover you. Update your blog regularly and share content and articles of interest to keep your followers engaged. If they aren’t engaged, they’ll forget about you.
What you post and how you post it are incredibly important factors in content sharing. You need to find subjects that work for you and your readers, and you need to post content that encompasses those subjects. I am an advocate for people with Multiple Hereditary Exostoses. I write a lot of blog posts dedicated to what it’s like to live with a chronic pain disorder. I also write about love and relationships, books and literacy, and mental health. All of these subjects spark a passion within me, and that passion is conveyed in my words.
Sharing those posts on every social media website is vital. It is also essential to share them multiple times. Early risers may not catch the article you posted last night and people in different time zones may miss it as well.
I’m friends with a lot of authors and I’m noticing a trend. Most will complain that they aren’t selling books, but they aren’t making the effort to improve their strategy. Even before I discovered the incredible wisdom of wonderful authors and entrepreneurs like Rachel Thompson and Allie Burke, I knew that shouting “BUY MY BOOK” and dropping a link in every tweet or Facebook post was not an effective way of selling books. In fact, that kind of behavior is a major turn off. Even before I started writing, I was turned off by that kind of behavior, and not just in the book industry. This is relevant for whatever you market. Don’t shove your product in someone’s face. Form authentic relationships and be authentic.
It’s very rare that people “get it right” with the first book that they publish. Sometimes, it takes several books and a lot of floundering before it just clicks and you “get it”. But you’ll get there a lot quicker if you keep an open mind and don’t get your back up when someone offers a helpful suggestion or constructive criticism.