Last night, I dreamed that I was talking to bookstores about carrying my novel, State v. Claus. When I awoke, I knew it was time to get back to work on the marketing.
The last time I wrote about my indie publishing journey (other than posting some of the wonderful book selfies people have sent) was the day the paperback version of State v. Claus arrived at my door. At that time, I had the best of intentions for how I’d work the marketing for my book since it does have a holiday element (although, as at least one reviewer has said, it’s really an all-year-round book). I expected to do brilliant, innovative things and share them here so that everybody who’s been following my journey with an eye toward publishing their own books could have a taste of what they might do or what they should avoid.
That was the plan, anyway.
What I didn’t plan on were the bumps in the road. First, health issues arose that have been extremely slow to resolve. At the same time, I found myself overcome by sheer exhaustion. Whether it was due to the health issues or the pace I’d been keeping up for three months, I can’t say. All I know is that when the doctor told me I couldn’t join my family for Thanksgiving, I felt the tiniest bit guilty over how relieved I was to have the day all to myself to read and rest and bake cookies.
Hard on the heels of my restful day came the holidays. Thanksgiving was late, which meant the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was barely four weeks. Retailers were already warning to mail everything early for Christmas delivery, which only worked up to a point; two packages I mailed on December 15, 2020, arrived on January 2, 2021. Since my elderly parents don’t go out and don’t use computers, ordering gifts for them to give to others became one of my jobs. In between, I spent literally hours on hold–and even more hours once somebody finally answered the phone–trying to sort out my 2021 health insurance. Then, as the new year began and things began to balance out, a vicious mob mounted a violent attack on Congress, an event that understandably has consumed much of my time, energy, and attention and has left me even more stressed than I already was.
In between all this, two things happened. One was that I began writing the sequel to State v. Claus. It feels odd to be writing the next book when I feel as if I should be marketing the first, but one thing I’ve figured out is that indie publishers can’t do just one thing at a time. If I wait to write the next book until I’ve done all the possible marketing on the first, there will never be a next book because the marketing is never done. There’s always something else to try in order to get my book in front of potential readers, even if the book has been out for years.
The other thing that’s happened has been a marvelous outpouring of support for my book. People bought multiple copies to give as gifts. They’ve sent me book selfies. They’ve written fabulous reviews. Some have sent emails praising it. My neighbor stopped me the other day as I was walking out to the mailbox to tell me she loved it so far but I’d better not tell her what was going to happen next. My mother gave a copy to a friend who called a few days later, demanding to know when the sequel is coming out (which makes me wish I were one of those writers who can dash off a book in three months, but since I’m not, everybody will have to be patient).
Now, as the health issues are slowly resolving, the Christmas decorations have gone back to the basement, the thank-you notes have been written, the end-of-year bills have been paid, and my workload is returning to normal, it’s time to look ahead for my career as a writer/indie publisher. I already have a few places in mind that I plan to contact about carrying my first book. Some kind people offered help and suggestions when I was on the verge of publication; it’s time to follow up on their recommendations. At the same time, I need to prioritize the research and writing of the sequel so that there will come a day when I can use bits of it as teasers while marketing State v. Claus.
Life is still not easy. My health isn’t a hundred percent fixed. The country is in a shambles. My elderly parents still require assistance. Clients still need attention. The laundry and housework and home maintenance still need to be done. Volunteer obligations continue. It’s still like playing whack-a-mole, and I need to stop expecting that this will ever change. The moles might be different, but the constant popping-up never ends.
So I’ll do the best I can. As far as possible, I’ll schedule in writing time and marketing time. As I begin to move forward, I’ll continue to share what I’m doing and how effective it is (or isn’t—you may as well learn from my mistakes). In the meantime, many thanks to everybody who has been so incredibly supportive, especially those who have made a point of telling me you loved State v. Claus. You’re the ones who make this whole crazy journey worthwhile.