The Ugly Truth

I’ve mentioned that I didn’t sell enough Jazzi and Ansel mysteries, so Kensington let me go, haven’t I? Yes, I have. But I already had the next Jazzi and Ansel written before they told me, so I decided to publish it myself. And I wanted to give it a big push, but how? I looked at BookBub and it was REALLY expensive, (at least, for us), and the truth is, I decided I wanted a neat vacation for HH and my fiftieth anniversary in late August more than I wanted to pay that much to advertise my book, IF BookBub accepted it. Maybe a mistake. So I ran the idea past our kids and grandkids, and we all decided to rent a house on Tybee Island in August and have a big family vacation together instead. We all pitched in, and we need airplane tickets and fun money, and we’re looking forward to a great time.

I want to stress that my editor, John Scognamiglio, at Kensington would have kept working with me. He’s a wonderful human being who loves writers. Everyone I worked with loves writers, but publishing is a business. It all comes down to money, and I just wasn’t making enough money for Kensington to keep investing in me. Okay, that hurts, because Kensington tried, but it is what it is. So now, I’m on my own. And I had a Jazzi and Ansel written and polished before I got the news, so what was I going to do with it? I put it on Amazon myself.

Now comes the not so wonderful part of being a writer without a big name. No one knows who you are. If you don’t promote your book, it doesn’t sell. I’d sold enough books (I thought) that I could surely pay for a New Book Deal on Written Word Media ($399), but the day after I submitted my book for the ad, they turned me down. And at first, I was REALLY frustrated. But after I thought about it, I realized they were trying to be totally honest with me. They didn’t think I’d earn out the money I put into the ad. I’m guessing they don’t have a lot of cozy mystery readers signed up on their site. Every site seems to have one following that’s stronger than the others. I don’t know. But they could have taken my money and left me watch dismal sales. Instead, they turned down my money. And I give them credit for that.

I considered going to the Fussy Librarian. I’m fond of that site, but finally decided to take my chances with an Amazon ad because I thought I’d reach more people. I have to admit, I don’t understand any of the ads an author has to bid on, not on BookBub, Amazon, or Facebook. I’ve tried them a couple of times before, and it was a sad failure, but at that time, I thought I was bidding too low to ever win a spot for readers to see my work. This time, I thought I’d go bigger, but I obviously don’t know what “big” is. I signed up to spend $300 at $3.00 a bid. And I’ve hardly won any spots. My bid goes to September 1st, and if I spend $50, it’s going to be a miracle. So, again, I haven’t conquered this type of marketing.

My next book, A CUT ABOVE, comes out May 3rd, and I’m going to try a couple other things to get readers to find it. But I’m feeling pretty unsure of myself. HOW do you find readers without spending a lot of money? Maybe it’s impossible. That’s what publishers do. They INVEST in you. They KNOW how to market. I’m, obviously, not as good at it. But I want to give self-publishing a try.

This blog will probably appeal more to writers than readers, but even readers might be interested in how hard it is to promote a new book. If I fail yet again, I have other options to consider. But until then, I’m crossing my fingers and wishing for the best for A CUT ABOVE. Wish me luck!

10 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth

  1. the old adage, gotta have money to make money, kicks in. i discovered just how difficult it all was when i published my grandfather’s manuscripts and you certainly have a bigger name than he. no clue what i was doing and what i did was all wrong. i’m glad you keep looking at options and that you have a lovely (writer’s) support group.

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  2. This is the hardest part. I don’t have money for the promotional sites either. There are so many who will cash the check, then dial in their effort. It’s pretty hit and miss these days. For my last few I did blog tours only. You’re certainly welcome to send me something, and I’d be happy to host you.

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  3. Thanks, Craig! I’ll take you up on that for A Cut Above. Maybe in May? My friend puts BookBub on her credit card when they accept one of her books, and she always earns a lot more than she spends, but I hate going in debt to promote a book. I haven’t gotten brave enough to do that.

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  4. P.S. Craig, I should have mentioned she makes that kind of money on SERIES. Often, people buy every book in the series when they buy the one she’s advertising. I’m not sure she’d make enough if she only had a few books in the series.

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  5. I wish I knew how indie authors did it. There are many out there who are earning good money, but I haven’t figured out how to do that. It’s also a time commitment which I don’t have. I think BookBub is the way to go, but like you said, it costs money. I always had great sales when Kensington put one of my books on BB.

    I’m still at the point that I don’t know where I’m headed int he future. I do know I want to shop The Keeping Place to agents, but I’m torn on The Ghosts of Wingate Hall. Should I try to find a small press or should I attempt to market on my own. It’s such a rough road.

    I do think you have a strong following for your Jazzi mysteries. Hopefully, your audience will follow you with your new novels. And if you’d like a promo spot on my blog, you know the door is always open!

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    1. Thanks, Mae! I’m like you. I’m not sure what to do next. I decided to put A Cut Above up myself, but I’m not sure that was a brilliant decision. I just didn’t want to wait while I shopped it around. That can take a long time, so I thought I’d just go for it. When I finish the straight mystery I’ve started, I might try finding a publisher, though. Maybe. It’s a hard decision. Good luck that you find what’s right for you.

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  6. I suggest that Written Word didn’t turn you down. It’s more likely that they were bombarded with submissions for the same day/time slot and/or genre. WW doesn’t have a third of the subscribers that BB has. That’s a key factor in sales. The dismal part is that there are so many digital publications it’s going to be really difficult to sell one’s babies out on the web. And it’s not easy to get on BB. From looking over their recent submissions accepted, it looks like they don’t have review requirements like they used to. And there’s the other issue, getting reviews. Grrr.
    And Jazzi #7 is fantastic and A Cut Above! Don’t let the bean counters get you down. Remember that they aren’t as smart as they think they are. They kicked Bezos to the curb when he pitched them the idea of digital publishing.

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