Monday, March 20, 2017

Failing at Life 2017

Yup. It's that time of year again. I feel like I'm failing at everything.
Point 1: My classroom is a mess. My students have spring fever and Spring Break taunts from weeks away.

Point 2: I haven't made any headway on my current manuscript. (Quite frankly, I haven't even had the head space to attempt it. #ShameSpiral)

Point 3: Marketing? Yeah, let's not talk about marketing. I just wish my book were capable of selling themselves. (Every author dreams of self-marketing books, don't they?)

I don't know about you, but The Writer Suckfest is at least a yearly event for me. And no matter whether you have a full-time career or a full-time family (or both) you'll feel like you're failing at that too. Should we give up and consume copious amounts of chocolate while binge-watching an entire season of mediocre television?

I say NO. No way. Let's be proactive! (If that doesn't work, we can always resort to chocolate later, right?)

Five Tips for Surviving Failing at Life

Runaway Don't worry. It's not an act of cowardice. A change of pace and/or location helps you see things as less fatal than before. It may be as simple as disappearing into a really great book or movie but it also might require a beach-side cottage and the calming shush of the ocean.
This weekend I ran way to Comic Con. As weird as it sounds, there's nothing like hobnobbing with a hoard of geeks, dweeds, and super cool nerds to make you feel human again.

Regroup A chat with a friend, writing it out, or just talking to yourself until life makes sense again helps straighten things out. Think of soldiers in battle. Sometimes they have to retreat, assess the threat, and determine the best plan of attack. I don't know about your brain, but mine works in a similar fashion. That's why we have support groups, people!

Recognize Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Freaking Albert Einstein . . . As irritating as that quote is, there is something to be said for recognizing what's failed you in the past and what has resulted in success and correcting accordingly.

For instance, when I mentioned marketing earlier I really wanted to confess something. I haven't been using my past marketing experience to inform today's decisions. How dumb is that? Time to fix it and sell some more books!

Reconnect The longer I walk this planet, the more I see the importance of forging connections. We connect with ourselves, we connect with others, and we connect with the universe (whether you call it God or destiny or fate). We also connect with our own characters and stories. Whenever I'm floating aimlessly or bumbling about, usually it's because one or more lines of connection are down. Reassess, my dears, find the downed lines and pop them back in place. (BTW genuinely connecting with readers, followers, fellow writers, and reviewers is my number one marketing tip!)

Recommit Once a game plan has been developed, we need to recommit ourselves to it. Make it achievable and then jump right in! Does that mean we go down in flames if it doesn't work out? Nope. We live and learn and move on.

Here's my game plan:
1) writing two more guest posts
2) running promotions on my books
3) preparing for this summer's author events 
4) continuing to work on my current project
5) not freaking out about the pitfalls of March

After my weekend runaway, I can recognize that my students are coming along nicely and only require a little help. No group of kindergartners advanced to first graders without a certain amount of drama. In a similar manner, no first draft was ever completed without a certain amount of hair loss and swearing.

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it! (But I'm keeping the chocolate on hand, just in case!)

So my dears, what's gone horribly wrong in your life lately? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it? Leave me a comment! You're not alone, my dears. I'm here to support and inspire.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Midnight Sisters Shops Local!

I know you've heard it. Print books are dying out.

It's not encouraging to those of us who want to sell books to hear that buyers aren't buying. Or if they are buying, they're buying eBooks for under $1.
My crazy family. I can't take them anywhere...
Well, my dears, here's the truth. My author events in bookstores have always been successful. I don't make enough to move out of my two-bedroom condo or quit my day job, but I do make enough to keep writing. 

And occasionally pay for a pedicure. Or a green polka dot dress.
When your book launch is at a retro dress shop...
I've had a blast promoting my books in local shops this year. Friends, family, and perfect strangers strolled in and snatched up copies of my newest release, Midnight Sisters. And many of them snagged Becoming Beauty as well.
Crazy friends. Oh how I love them.
How does that happen if print books are a dying breed? Here's what I've seen:
  • Local shops run by individuals who understand local culture and stock their shelves accordingly will be successful.
  • Authors who carefully plan public events, put in the leg work (i.e. traditional and online promotion), and genuinely connect with potential readers will also be successful.
Trust me, simply showing up with a smile and 900 copies of your newest novel will not be enough. There needs to be a solid plan in place. Chat with shop owners and librarians, build good rapport, borrow tips and techniques from other writers, and get busy promoting on your end.

And yes, please take your smile and pile of books. You're going to need those.

Like any author, I've had several nominally successful author events too. Instead of becoming discouraged, I choose to learn from those experiences.
  • Did I fail to promoted the event sufficiently? 
  • Did I fail to include effective strategies that have worked before?
  • Is my sales pitch (i.e. book blurb) enough to hook potential readers?
  • Did I make some valuable connections that I can use later on?
  • Did I leave a good impression with my host?
As a second-time author, I've been much better at playing to my strengths this time around. For me, that includes playing to the local crowd and being warm, friendly, and visible. Let me tell you, it's exhausting, but so much fun!

That's what we do, isn't it? Take the awesome, learn from the not-so-awesome, and keep on improving. So writerly and non-writerly friends, go forth and conquer!

Then come back and tell me how it went.