Is All of It Worth the Prize?

Grace and me at ACFW

Grace and me at ACFW

This last year has been a crash-course in small publishing in the CBA for me. The last 6 months has really had me contemplating how I will go forward in my writing career. The last 3 months has had me become ever more convinced that I have been spinning my wheels an awful lot. Granted, I am not complaining. It hasn’t even been a year yet and I Am Ocilla has broken the small press gold standard of 300 copies sold through print, e-book and audio. I should be thankful and not voice my very unpopular opinions.

But if I am honest…I always try to be honest…I will admit that most of that had nothing to do with blog posting, interviews, giveaways, book signings, butt kissing or any other trick pulled from a bag of tricks. Most of the books sold were sold to people I interact with on a personal level through facebook, in real life or friends of theirs.

So what does that say about marketing in today’s industry for a small press author? I can’t answer for anyone else. All I can do is answer for myself.

I know that doing a hundred interviews to the same group of readers/writers is a time-suck and exhausting. Giveaways are great but have not proven to have a return on my investment. How many blog posts does the average person read? I know there are some that do regularly, but it has been my experience that most of those are other writers trying to get into the market also or again, the people that I interact with on a personal level or their friends.

I have lost so much sleep pondering marketing that I haven’t written in two months. That sounds like an excuse but it is a fact.  I’m not lazy. I don’t mind hard work. If I have to market in a way that is non-productive, it makes me despise writing. It makes me not want to share another thought on paper ever again. That is not going to fly. I will not do something just because “they” say I must. I am going to do what works and rely on friendships that go beyond books to carry me through. If my writing is worthy, someone may share and if it is God’s will, it will keep growing. If it is not God’s will, I still will have an awesome group of friends.

If I do that, the prize is most definitely worth it.

Peace, love and God’s will.

About Diane Graham

Diane Graham lives in the mountains of eastern Oklahoma with her husband, children and many dogs. She is an avid reader and lover of all art forms that encapsulate imagination and goodness. Her debut novel I Am Ocilla was released in March 2012.

14 comments on “Is All of It Worth the Prize?

  1. It’s all about enjoying the journey. For someone to give up their hard earned money for something we create; for something that we would still do even if there was no payment at all, is a bonus. Enjoy the journey.

    • Thank you, Dan. That is exactly what I am talking about. I love writing. Any money is a bonus. I just don’t want to worry over silly stuff and waste time worrying. 😛

  2. Some good reflections in your words. They bring heartfelt meaning to the concept: a writer writes because they have to, not because they make money. In an ever changing publishing world it is not easy to predict how one can become successful. But I do believe that sometimes it’s hard work, and other times it’s sheer luck. Your book “I Am Ocilla” was a lot of hard work and I look forward to reading your second book because you have talent!!!

  3. Congratulations on selling over 300 copies!

    You touched on one of my own question marks, though. How to sell books if you’re only marketing to one loop? How do you break into a different loop? I don’t know of anyone who’s done it yet, so I’m still trying to figure out how.

    • Kessie, I have broken into a “different loop” so to speak. The purpose of commenting is to share, not to brag. Just a little history: My publishing company (we are not taking new submissions at this time) can be seen at http://www.secondstar.us. Our first book, which I will say is self-published, is not prominent on the site. It is Infertility’s Anguish – A book about healing from the emotional aspects of infertility. We have sold 300 + copies and marketed it using niche marketing. Sometimes I would spend 8 hours a day on a website which is not shut down called Childless Not By Choice. I have some dear friend who I met through this site. This book launched our publishing company and we have consulted with many in the publication of their own books, and published three written by my husband Dan T. Davis. His first children’s book has sold over 3000 copies and might go into a second printing – time will tell. His next two have not sold as well, but we have not marketed them aggressively.

      HOW – You ask??? Trust me I am not trying to sell you a book. I Promise!!! But you need to go to the website http://www.blacksmithsgift.com and look at the dollhouse. It is truly a show stopper. I built it based upon the artist’s drawings on the back cover. We crafted all three children’s books with love and have only broken even on The Blacksmith’s Gift. They are hardcover with dust jacket. Now I sound like I am marketing, but I needed to say all of that to tell you why the first and third children’s book won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Individually Published Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction Book of the Year. The Blacksmith’s Gift took the gold medal in 2005 and A Carpenter’s Legacy took the Silver in 2011.

      We could have sold more if we had marketed the books more aggressively. But we did cross over into other circles and that is why we have so many sales for The Blacksmith’s Gift.

      My purpose is to mentor. So if you wish – ask questions. I feel I have gone on too long as it is.

      My thanks to Diane for her patience with this post and it’s length.

    • Thank you, Kessie.
      I have sold books to a wide variety of people but don’t know how to expand that on a larger scale. I hope to learn. I really think it depends on the writer and the writing. I guess only time will tell. 😀

  4. What a great page to come across today! I am emotionally exhausted from querying and rejections. I came into this so excited, and knowing it would be hard. I said “I’ll give myself one year and one hundred rejections.” I am on month 2 with about 12 rejections & my giddy excitement is fading quickly! 🙂

    • Thank you for coming across this page today, Lisa. Try not to lose that excitement. There are people that have thousands of rejection letters. Stephen King being one of them. Keep that chin up, girlie, and never stop surrounding yourself with people that can teach you. 😀

  5. So…does that mean you’re working on another book? 🙂

  6. Diane, I think it’s a common misconception that blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are tools for marketing products. They are not, and this is true in every business. Social media is a set of platforms for building relationships. And, as you noted, the books you sold were to people you had relationships with.

    No businessperson should ever lose sleep over marketing. And if you’re worried about marketing instead of making your art, you have definitely fallen into a trap. I’m glad you realized that and broke out of it. Do what works. Yes.

    Write first. If you don’t write, you don’t have anything to market.

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