Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week One, aka WTF Am I Supposed To DO?!

Okay, I have officially concluded my first week as self-published author.

Let's just say it's... different than living in my traditionally published persona.

For one thing, it's a struggle to get anyone to Follow me on Twitter. I'm basically a nobody, which is both cool and terrifying. I would normally think twice about using "WTF" in my header, even though it's an authentic representation of who I am. That's because my "other" self would be thinking about all my sweet teen readers, their moms, and whether or not I was going to piss someone off.

So it's kind of cool to be able to speak my mind.

Also, I spent a few days not really knowing WHAT I was supposed to do to get the word out, especially given my desire to keep this name separate from my other one. I don't really know how to be a self-published author, and I'm learning as I go.

On the other hand, I've sold exactly five books. Yes, five. Not exactly a stellar showing, and this is with a regular presence on the Kindleboards (including the tag exchange) and a semi-assertive attempt at reaching out on Twitter. Although, now that I put it that way, that's not exactly aggressive marketing.

In my defense, I'm under ridiculous deadline pressure to fulfill my traditional publishing contract and prepare a new book for submission, so it's a huge juggling act. 

I spent last week reaching out to a few bloggers known to review self-published YA and have a few people who have expressed interest in reviewing either Phoebe... Fabulous! or The Good Deed Diaries. Maybe that will help!

I also decided to give Facebook Ads a try. I've used them in the past for my other work but have never been able to determine if they really make a difference. This is kind of cool, because I have access to my numbers in real time. So far I've spent about $30 to have my two ads shown to (I'm paying for impressions instead of clicks) approximately 120,000 people in the demographic I chose.

Sales over that three-day time period; 1.

So... yeah. Not a winning proposition so far, but I'm going to let it play out for the next week or so and see if there's a measurable difference. I'll let you know what I find out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Road to This Place

So here I am, blogging for the first time under my new alter ego.

I've spent the last few weeks reading everything I can about self-publishing, trying to pick up marketing tips and tidbits while also trying to keep on top of the traditional publishing contracts that right now pay my bills.

Did I get your attention with that one? If so, you're probably wondering how I came to self-publish my first two YA titles when I already have traditional publishing contracts. The answer is complicated.

I love my traditional publishers. I feel honored and grateful that I'm able to publish my work, receive wide distribution, and pay my bills doing what I love most. But there are downsides. One of them is that the publishing industry is notoriously slow. It takes TIME for a book to make it to the shelves in a "real" bookstore. Lots of time. There are announcements to make, covers to choose, extensive editing to be done (which requires several layers of people all working you into their schedule), marketing plans to arrange, buyers to pitch, release dates (and the release dates of other books) to consider.

Like I said; TIME. I don't really mind it for the most part, except for one thing. I write a lot. As much fun as it is to see your name on a book store shelf, for me it's really about the writing process itself. That's what drives and motivates and excites me. The truth is, it's tough to write lots of books and to have them sit in your desk drawer (figuratively speaking), not because no one would read them, but because in the complex world of traditional publishing, it's usually not possible to release more than a book a year (at least not in YA).

I've been watching this self-publishing thing with interest. I don't see it as a replacement for traditional publishing but as an intriguing complement to it. Why not release short stories in between novel releases? Readers who truly love an author's work will buy everything they can get their hands on from that author. Why not self-publish titles outside your brand? We're artists, after all. Creators. It's natural to want to stretch the boundaries of our knowledge and talent. It's not only difficult to avoid but seems downright wrong not to try anything new because it doesn't fit in with all the stuff you've done before.

So here I am. My first two self-published releases, The Good Deed Diaries and Phoebe... Fabulous!, are books outside my traditionally published brand, but they're books I believe in nonetheless. I think there are readers who will enjoy them, but I'll let you be the judge of that. Then I'll post the results here with transparency that isn't really possible in traditionally publishing.

The truth is, I'm as curious to see what happens as you are.


P.S. How about you throw a girl a bone and follow me on Twitter @JuliaJBooks? :D