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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hang On. Your Career Just Took A Plot Twist!

This year has been a very difficult one for me. My schedule has been shot to heck several times. I've taken chances this year, lost money on ads and "must haves" for my business. I've had a record month for iBooks and Audible, and a record low for Amazon.

Am I balanced or coming apart at the seams? We whisper in hallways about what works and what doesn't. What the hot genres are and what is dead (like vampires) - except some are doing fabulously well. I've begun to worship outliers, people who do things differently. I'm a free thinker, so I thought this might be easy for me. It's exhausting.

I think I liked writing more when I didn't know what the heck I was doing. Someone told me that when you're new, you don't have to worry about fans, visibility (except on retail platforms). You begin your long slow climb to branding, unless you have a smash hit, and then you can hire that be done. Every day I see smart authors and extremely dumb ones. And you know what? I learn from both.

Now I get to worry about also-buys and re-covering previously loved book covers because they aren't "with it." I've grown my newsletter up to nearly 30k, which is great, except now I'm obsessed with the NL "heatmap" and how many clicks and conversions I make. We're installing evergreen links on my website to track ads I never used to run. We test the market. We sign up in droves to take seminars on FB marketing, and then jump in by the hundreds, all competing for the same dollar.

I never felt this much competition before. I thought competition was bad in real estate, when I did that. Whoa! Nellie! Just when I master something, something else comes along. I'm way behind deleting old emails and files I never want to look at. I want to stay relevant, get my new releases out there more effectively, along with the other two thousand romance authors who also have a new release the same week.

But as busy as I am as an author, the readers are just as busy. I find reviewers are full, ARC and Beta readers are harder to get and even harder to return the reviews in a timely manner. My reader group, Sharon Hamilton's Rockin Romance Readers is growing respectfully. But readers and bloggers I meet at signings are in some twenty "groups". I would imagine that a PA who worked for multiple authors would have their entire day taken up with facebook posts. I belong to nearly 50 groups and I probably need to delete all but about 20 of them.

I went through my fans page, because I was maxed out at 5000, searching for someone I could delete. After I made a mistake and deleted someone I shouldn't have, I scrolled down the page for another face I'd not seen for a long time. Of the 5000 people I scrolled through, I was shocked to learn by the time I got to 3000, I knew everyone and something about them.

I feel like one of those multiplex boxes with the in and out portals to give and receive energy, hopefully in equal proportions so I don't get fried. These portals tightly latch on to chargers of information, and yes, the dreaded drama occasionally. I've listened to people who have the secrets, and others who say they have the secrets but they'll only tell a select group of 1000 if they pay some $600. Be the first to sign up. Get connected and get going. I've paid thousands of dollars for advice, taken it and it worked some of the time, many times not working at all. I've guessed, begged for answers, stopped and started a new routine nearly every month. In the end, nothing works, but writing.

Maybe it's the election. Maybe it's the stars. Maybe we look for meaning in our over shares. There has to be a limit to how many likes we give and receive in a day. And I don't check my FB feed to find out what other people who are friends of mine have thought was interesting and shared or commented on. I have a label over my "Notifications" because I know how to stop the noise, but not the little orange box that tells me something urgent is going on in my world. Everyone is so busy, busy, busy connecting to as many other people as possible. Trying to find that gold mine of readers so we don't have to work so hard.

I'm reminded of what Mark Twain once said about writers. "The difference between a writer and a published writer is a published writer writes until he gets published."

Maybe Mars is doing something. Or, I need a new candle. Maybe I should be writing about heavily tatted biker dudes, except I don't know any, and I do know some SEALs. Maybe I should watch where everyone else is going, and then turn around, slip out back, and go the other way.

Or maybe, just maybe, I should just shut up and go back to finishing my book. Oh darn! Could it really be that easy?

Here's to a new day! Make it your best ever. Only you are counting all the sparkly things, and you get to count your imagination too.

Sharon Hamilton


Karen Henderson said...

I debate all the time about getting out of book groups that I'm in most of the time I just turn the notifications off in case I decide i want to go back. I'm one of those that is overwehlmed with books I need to read. I have a whole folder in my email labeled "book request emails" I have so many good authors I read right now it's hard for me to add another. Honestly the last two new authors I read I've gotten hooked on through their audio books. One cause I won one of her audio books and the other cause I loved the dual narrators and looked to see if they narrated something else. I do have a select few authors I have been know to drop what I'm reading to Beta read from them (and yes you are part of that list) I'm doing something for me that I noticed has helped me enjoy my love of reading. I'm grabbing a print book ever week (one that I haven't read) and putting down my ipad/kindle and actually touching a book and reading.
All I can hope as I read that my favorite authors don't lose the faith and stop writing books for me to read.
May you have an amazing day and ps I love plot twists
Lots of love

sandiegrise said...

Beautifully said Sharon. I too belong to dozens of groups but participate in very few (like 10 tops). Just like Karen, I had turned my notice settings to "off" on a lot but remain a member in case I might want to participate. This month I started removing myself from those groups, frankly I want to get back to reading ARC's from that core group of authors that I truly enjoy and remove myself from the groups that I'm no longer interested in. I do struggle at times to get through the ARC's but only because authors all seem to have the same publish day. Maybe just maybe changing the date that books come out can change the race to get the readers to buy books.
Never change your writing style to go with the masses. I love plot twists and am an avid supporter of what you do.
I've seen new authors come and go in this business. When it comes down to it, it's about the details, knowing your subject matter. And you know your subject matter!
I'm in it with you, and I love a good plot twist! And if you blow up any more wineries there won't be any more California wine for us to drink!

Lindsay McKenna said...

Sharon, we're in a brutal cosmic bunch of events going on in October that defy description. I understand fully what you're doing and how exhausting it is. November will be a LOT better for all authors...right now, sales are super depressed and will continue to be until 9.30.16 when we get a favorable New Moon. Hang in there, friend ;-) Warmly, Lindsay McKenna

Janice Seagraves said...

I've been a published author for a while now and I don't know what will be a hit or a miss either.

Hang in there and keep writing. We all get frustrated sometimes.


vicki batman said...

Loved this blog and especially the Masses without the M.

jbiggar said...

Hi Sharon,
I think we get so caught up in the treadmill, and yes, competition of doing better, making it big, that we forget why we started this journey- for the love of romance.

jean hart stewart said...

Loved the Mark Twain quote especially... Excellent blog.....

Melissa Keir said...

I also get frustrated with all the trends and marketing. We are really becoming overwhelmed with promotions. But it's as if we don't find a way to shout about our books, they will be swallowed up by the masses. I do wish it was easier but I know it's so worth it!

Great post!

julie beasley said...

I'm not sorry that I'm not in so many groups as I use to be in, some of them want you to do impossible tasks and sometimes you just can't. I'm just happy to stick with the ones that appreciate my time and effort. It is hard for authors to know just what will be a success. Just keep putting out your best work hope for the best. Sometimes it's not the genre but, the heroes that capture our imagination. I do like the amount of audios that are available now, sometimes it's easier just to listen. Keep plugging away Sharon we will enjoy whatever you write. I did read the other day that there wasn't enough romance books in Nordic regions, and the Australian readers love google+

Renee Vincent said...

This is one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time! Well said Sharon! I have felt the same way here lately! Ugh... Doesn't get any better? I can't tell you the amount of money I've paid for ads, advice, etc. only to dwindle my bank account. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Again Sharon, thank you so much for this great post! And best of luck to you on that next best seller!

By the way, 30000 newsletter subscribers? That is impressive! Well done!

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