The Path Through The Dark Woods

First the good news: I’m almost done with Deep Pink.  I need to do a last thorough read, since I think I sound amnesiac through some of it.  As in “Why are you telling me this again? You already said it.”  This is the result of many, many interruptions in the editing.

Anyway, as the time to release it (and the books almost done shuffling impatiently behind it) out the door, Dan and I were discussing how to promote.

We have a lot of indie friends, so a lot of the ideas they used came up.  Only to have me break into a rousing (off key) rendition of “my way.”Also, yesterday on my blog, since Frank J. Fleming did a post on marketing someone in the comments recommended a book by an indie author who made it big on how to promote your book.  And I had to pour water on it and point out this is a whole genre, and yep, they all have different advice.

Here’s the thing: for twenty two years I did what I had to do to “succeed” in traditional publishing.  For reasons out of my control that success was limited to “continue being published” and it worked.  What I had to do was out of my control too. There was one way to make it in publishing and it involved a lot of keeping your mouth shut and swallowing.  It also involved to a greater or lesser extent a lot of faking.  Probably more than in other jobs. (What do I know? It’s been decades since I had honest work.)

Stuff like that breaks you and breaks your soul.  It also doesn’t really work.

Now, none of the indie stuff is that bad.  And some I might even do. But following things like the K-boards or the other stuff people keep following to find out “how to promote now” would drive me nuts.

There’s this method that INDISPUTABLY works, which involves identifying under-serviced areas, writing to those areas, extensively researching the right key words, changing them when those change, etc etc etc

Listening to someone — for whom it worked spectacularly — describe it, I felt exactly like I did when I was in my twenties and a friend dragged Dan and I to an investors meeting.  (i.e. how to get rich quick meeting.)

My reaction “yeah, logically this works, and it works for John.  But it’s a full time job that eats your life, and that’s NOT how I want to spend my life.”

I am very clear on what I want to do with my life — to the point I keep postponing starting classes to teach writing, because I’m afraid that will become THE job, and writing the side line — and it is not research underserved areas, write to market, or research keywords.

I’m not disputing it works. I’m fairly sure it does. It’s just not MY way.

Same and with sugar on top for newsletters and even to an extent for buying ads.  I’m too slapdash to keep it up, and between blog, aggregator blog, MGC and writing fiction, I’m already maxed out.  And that’s not counting my tendency to be a promiscuous short story slut, who basically writes for anyone whose project interests me.

And then, you know, some methods only work because they’re … small. Once everyone is doing it, people stop reading the newsletters, or whatever.

So, what is my plan?  I don’t know.  We’re very sit of the pants we who are myself.

Look, having started a blog when everyone assured me blogging was no longer a thing, and done it to the point it now has on average 8k unique hits a day, I couldn’t tell you how I did it except “I did the things I knew how to do and knew I could keep up, and I forgot everything else.”

And that’s what I’m going to do.

One thing everyone agrees on is write a lot.  Writing a lot is good for your numbers and your purse.  So I’m going to do that. I’m also going to give the books AT LEAST passable covers (some will be better.)  And try to do a professional job.

And I’ll push them on my blog, the aggregator blog.  And I’ll probably come up with other ways to promo.  Try a lot of things and some of them will stick.

But after 22 years of doing what I HAD to do?  This time, I’m going to do it my way.

Because that path through the dark woods? In the end, you have to find it yourself, with your own light, if you’re to end up in a place you want to be.

And so it starts.


    1. Seriously, I got my start in writing through blogging. It was a mil-blog, and for some weird reason, the readers liked the stuff I wrote about my eccentric family. I swear to Dog, the first clue that – hey, I could do this for money! – came from one of the original readers. He liked the family stuff, didn’t have internet at home, and he asked me; if he sent me a packet of CD media, could I copy the family stuff to CD so that he could read it it home, send a copy to him, and any others to fans? My first clue – hey, people would pay me money! (I eventually put all that into a print book, following the advice of the readers and fans.) Then,when I wrote a four-part about an early California wagon train, and speculated that it would make the most awesome movie! – another fan liked it, and put me in touch with a professional freelance writer who loved it, and coached me into putting it into a novel, advising that – novel first, movie after!
      Well, to Truckee’s Trail isn’t a movie, yet – I had such fun with it, that I carried on. Eighteen books later …

  1. Writing a lot helps, yep. If I could be more prolific (get 4 or 5 books out a year instead of 2-3) I’d be sitting pretty. Instead, if one of my 2-3 books is a dud (had two of those last year) I end up eating up my savings to get through the year. But when I start cranking out stuff at typing speeds, I don’t like the results. It’s tricky to find a happy medium.

    Still would rather have these problems than do anything else for a living, though 🙂

  2. Only to have me break into a rousing (off key) rendition of “my way.”

    And now I am trying to find the version that involves 90s-stype rock screaming of “my way, MY WAY, my way or the high way-“

    1. There’s also Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” for a nice loud, rock version. Not the same song, precisely, but a definite tribute:

      “Like Frankie said, I did it my way!”

  3. “There was one way to make it in publishing and it involved a lot of keeping your mouth shut and swallowing.”
    I think I see a fundamental flaw in how you addressed this process.

    1. Uncle Lar,

      If actually shut? I agree.
      If firmly closed around? … a better strategy …
      [apologies to our esteemed hostess]

  4. Helps that you’ve got a bunch of us who are likely to buy most of what you put out. Larry pointed out that even if you never sell to more than 10k people, if those people buy everything you put out and you put stuff out regularly, you’ll be living large.

    I wonder how big the Hun community is, anyway.

      1. Might have to do with Parallel Worlds just coming out.

        Dead End Rhodes made me cry – not the norm! Then I tried to tell my husband about it, and I started sobbing while trying to explain why I was so affected. Ultimately I ran off, and now “don’t cry in the shower” is a catchphrase.

        Little does he know what’s on his reading list.

        Anyway, it’s brilliant, and thank you for sharing it with the world.

  5. I so needed this right now. I was having my doubts about not taking the traditional path. I was told what I had to do, and you are right, it would have broken my soul.

  6. Because that path through the dark woods? In the end, you have to find it yourself, with your own light, if you’re to end up in a place you want to be.

    Love this^. Love the concept. Love the imagery. Thank you!

      1. This crowd? Um, no. The monster/psycho/Edlrich Horror would probably flee before we finished getting the scouts assigned and a stable perimeter established.

        1. Or come into the light and appreciate the company. Y’all have cookies. They are delicious.

  7. There’s this method that INDISPUTABLY works, which involves identifying under-serviced areas, writing to those areas, extensively researching the right key words, changing them when those change, etc etc etc

    Only if your muse cooperates.

  8. I was nodding through the whole thing. I’ve lost track of the people helpfully telling me to write to market, to churn out what’s hot now — not understanding that trying to write by numbers tends to lead to stories that never get finished because they’re all chore, and thus easily crowded out by other, more urgent chores. And looking over the titles I have on offer on KDP, I’m realizing that they’re all over the place, whatever story idea struck my fancy and held it long enough to get a completed and polished text. I know I really need to work on getting some kind of continuity going, some sort of overarching structure that will keep readers coming back for more.

    And I’m currently struggling to drag myself back to productivity after a lengthy dry spell, partially due to bereavement, partly to health issues. After my first several efforts bogged down, I decided that what I really need to motivate me is a project (or several) that can produce results relatively quickly. So I’ve pulled out several stories that are complete but need some work before they’re ready to go up.

    Right now I’m working on a novelette that I originally wrote for a shared-world anthology, since canceled and all stories returned to their authors. That means I need to go through and excise everything that’s proprietary to the shared world and replace it with original material — and that means rethinking some parts, both the surface presentation and the underlying rationale. At least some things are pretty easy to subsume into the metaphor of “Purgatory as the laundry of the soul,” but other things require more thought.

  9. If’n it’ll help, I’ll jump up and down and say, “READ THIS BOOK!” But, you know, there aren’t many people who listen to me… Oh, well, I’ll read it!

  10. I think your blog is the equivalent to having a newsletter. You have a lot of readers who come to you regularly, and are excited about you and your books. You control it, so you’re not dependent on Amazon or others sharing your work.

  11. Do you have anyone buying your books in CA? CA tax bill headed your way…..

    “Exactly what was poor Mr. Bindley’s tax offense in California? He is a self-employed screenplay writer living in Arizona. He performed services for a few companies headquartered and registered in California. ”

    “Does this screenwriter’s unfortunate tax flap mean other little businesses that happen to sell into in California could face tax troubles? Yes, it sure seems that way. California can now push even on sole proprietors who might have California customers. They might have to file California returns and pay California taxes. This is so even if all the services are performed outside of California, and even if the sole proprietor has no connection to California.”

    Why are the Eagles playing in my head? “You can never leave……”

      1. Yeah, this sounds like it’s tailor made for a Commerce Clause application. Of course, I suspect the current government of Colorado will be happy to help….

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