Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Q&A a la Ann Landers: "The Secret" About Giving Up Too Soon


This is from my Sharing with Writers newsletter. Thought it was worth a repeat for those of you who don't get that newsletter with its tons of writing and promotion tips in your e-mail box. (-:

Question:

The Secret [by Rhonda Byrne] says that one reason people's dreams don't come true is that they give up just before they are about to succeed. I am ready to give up. Just call me Peggy, WannaBeWriter

Answer:

I believe that people do give up too soon, especially when it comes to promotion. It's one reason I talk about persistence so much. And The Secret also talks about positive energy. That's what promotion is. It's your best shot being put out into the universe and that sometimes (not always) takes time.

That's not to say that at times it's not natural to feel like giving up. Putting aside having a well-written book that hits the market at the right time, the speed of an author's success is usually strongly influenced by its genre. That's one of the reasons I shared all the stuff I learned when I was promoting my first novel, This Is the Place, by writing my first how-to book, The Frugal Book Promoter. Fiction--especially nonspeculative fiction--is one of the hardest genres of all to promote and I wanted others to know it could be done.

This Is the Place won its publisher's Mille Award for marketing and sales the first year it was published but only after it almost failed for lack of promotion by the publisher and by me! And not until after I lost a really big wad of money hiring a publicist who didn't understand using the themes and other elements in a novel to promote it!

This Is the Place is a literary novel published in 2001 (though it's still available in the new and used book section on Amazon for about $1). I think I sold about 2,000 and even that relatively small number was probably sold because it was set in Salt Lake City and was released just before the Winter Olympics in that city.

But that fortuitous timing wouldn't have helped had I not figured out that I needed to promote it and that I was the only one with the passion to do it right. The Secret also talks about passion--only they call it bliss or joy. Once I got started I even got my novel into a couple of airport book stores.

In fact, one of the reasons that The Frugal Book Promoter sells well is that it isn't general. It's personal and passionate. It's full of ideas based on my personal experience selling the hardest of all genres--poetry, short story collections, and literary fiction. I could add memoir (my next book) to that list.

The point here is that none of the three was a huge success by publishing standards. But they were by my standards. They sold well enough, I learned from writing them and promoting them, and I really relished the little successes when they came. When I couldn't trace great results from the promotion I was doing, I kept doing it and kept adding more ways to do it.

What if I'd given up on one of those dark days when nothing seemed to be working? My world--not just my writing world but my entire world--would be a different place. Am I bragging? Damn tootin’. I knew The Secret long before it was written. And I'm still practicing it.

I hope you will, too.
CHJ

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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