Desperation leads to more desperation

Lately I’ve been taking up some of my regular blog spots to address various issues surrounding the indie author scene. I thought I would continue this practice once again… only this time dig a bit deeper into the muck and underbelly of the beast of which I am a part of. And as I dug my fingers deep into the viscera and gore, what I discovered is a cross section of authors on the ugly side of begging and pleading. Their sales aren’t there (yet) and they have resorted to desperate measures and Hail Mary passes. The sad bit of news I have to give them is that it won’t work. Desperation will only lead to more desperation.

Here’s the thing — we’ve all heard the pitch, said using countless metaphors.

  • It’s a marathon not a sprint.
  • You have to put in your time.
  • Patience is a writer’s best friend.

I don’t want to bore you with the many ways you can say the same thing; but, truth be told, there’s truth in them thar metaphors. Let me ask you something: How many people do you know, really know, who were an overnight success? They created something and BLAMO! the next day they were millionaires. How many? One? None? Beuller?

I’m guessing the answer to that is zip, zilch, nada.

I was, as most of you know, a professional actor for over twenty years. I performed on Broadway and on some of the greatest stages across the country. It took me a long time and a lot of hard work to get there. My success was FAR from over night. So I knew, when I decided to transform my craft and love of artistic expression from acting to writing, that it would take time — and lots of it.

Some don’t quite understand that. They release a book, with no PR or marketing behind them, and fret and suffer because they aren’t seeing sales pick up immediately. They do everything they can:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Good reads
  • Wattpad
  • ENT
  • POI

But nothing happens. With Pavlovian regularity, they check their sales to either see nothing or the tiniest of trickles. So they go back to Facebook, chat with those that are having some success and try to re-create their efforts. They get good adivce:

  • Hire an editor.
  • Get a professional cover.
  • Market your brand.
  • Create a blog and post regularly.

But the day after they produce all of the above, still no sales. So desperation sets in. They start to go against everything they’ve been told. They:

Plead on Twitter for people to buy their book (even though most of their followers are other writers).

  • They get on Facebook and bemoan their lack of sales.
  • They drop their prices, and do giveaways.
  • They pay for reviews.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. But no matter what they do or what they are told, they keep forgetting the single most important element of this hay ride — time. And no matter how much you beg, borrow, and plead, the only path to truest success is the path of patience. Yes get your book edited, yes get a professional cover, yes release the best possible product you can, yes have a great blog and a lot to say…but those things do not equal a magical formula for immediate success…or success at all.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be. But I’ll get there. I know it’s going to take time, but I’ve seen the product of patience pay off as my sales continue to climb. And I know it might well take me five more years before I am where I want to be. I don’t care…so long as:

  • It happens
  • It happens honestly
  • It happens naturally
  • It happens continuously

I have a skill (actually I have a number of skills) and I want to offer that skill, that gift, to the public. That is my wish — to entertain as many people as I can. And as I see those sales continue to grow (even slowly), I know I am succeeding.

What I would ask of you, my fellow authors, is that you understand this isn’t going to happen over night. You can’t put out a product that no one yet knows about and expect it to shoot you to the stars right away. What you should be thinking is long-term. Give yourself five good years of building your brand. After five solid years you should be seeing real, tangible success. If, after five years, you are seeing nothing — maybe it’s time to give up the ghost and turn your creative process toward another task.

Ultimately though, we’re all in this together. So when one writer looks desperate, we all look desperate. Do your best to be patient, honor your craft in the best way you can, be honest with your fans and readers, and wait for success to come to you. If you chase success you will fail. If you act desperate you will look desperate…and no one wants to buy a product from a desperate salesman.