Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reviewing The Process Of Dreaming.

I don't know where to begin with this post. I don't know what say or how to say it. I don't even know if anything I have to say is worth saying.

I feel especially low presently.

I was hoping that last week's relaunch of my novel would be some sort of blistering success but it hasn't. In fact, it's been barely noticed. I mused last week about my superstitions with regards to re-doing the cover of the novel & though the notion of bad luck does not fit with my rational mind, I can't help but being drawn back to it.

The book just isn't selling.

I have a number of ways of tracking how much interest my blog has been getting and those methods are useful and encouraging. But they aren't translating into sales of the book and I am starting to sink a little under the weight of my feelings of failure.

I thought I had constructed a solid platform across the most relevant social networking tools I have at my disposal, which most of us authors use - you know Facebook, Twitter, this site, Amazon. I've participated in a number of forums, contributed to dialogue about writing and I've advertised in places where my small budget will allow. But I don't think it's working. And I fear, to be honest, people might be getting tired of the message.

This year, I switched focus from the printed edition of The Hambledown Dream to the digital one for a couple of reasons.

Last year, though I got the book onto the shelves in a number of book shops both locally and interstate, the process burned me out. I spent many hours pounding the pavement, taking my book in to stores, meeting with managers, leaving samples of the book with them, organizing events. The reception from most of the stores I dealt with was less than enthusiastic and in some instances latently hostile. To a certain extent, I prepared for this because I had read a lot about the sales climate in book retailing domestically and I knew it would be a challenge to cut through. To be brutally honest though - some of the dealings I had were a cluster fuck. Though the agreements I forged lead to some successful events and some decent sales, I found myself in the unenviable position of chasing payment from some of the stores some, six months after the books had sold. In one case, the situation became so dire that I had to seek legal advice. It lead to many a sleepless night and a loss of confidence in myself.

In releasing the book last year, I approached a number of people and asked them if they would consider reviewing the book for me. I also had a number of people approach me to review the book. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am prepared to take on anyone's review of my work as it comes and I don't shy away from reviews that are critical of it. This is part and parcel of putting oneself out there. But there was one review in particular that, whilst praising the work for it's story and characterizations, it slammed the work for a number of copy editing flaws (which, I must stress, have since been well and truly addressed). In addition to this, the review went after my publisher in a way that, in my mind, was somewhat vindictive. It was the priverbial shit sandwich that, may or may not have covered up something deeper. The review overall was less a review and more a report card from a teacher grading a student.

And it hurt me. I'll be honest. It fucking hurt. Again - though I had trained my rational mind to deal with and expect this, when it happened, it side swiped me and I didn't quite know what sort of damage it might do. While I tried to move on from it and take on board certain things that I could use to make the novel better, in truth, I lost all confidence in myself and my work and I actually considered whether I should discontinue promoting The Hambledown Dream - especially to book stores.

I have felt this way up until quite recently. 

One of the nicer things to emerge from all of this, however, was a small but loyal fan base who embraced The Hambledown Dream and myself and really championed it. For them, the story was something unique and wondorous, quite unlike the traditional love story. When things for me became quite dark and I felt very low, they encouraged me to push on with it and keep putting it out there. I have had some wonderful support.

I was compelled to push on.

I see immense possibilties with the rise of the digital market and while I haven't abandoned the print version of the novel, I feel that pursuing success in the digital market place is worth a shot. Again, I am influenced in part by some of the major stories coming out of the big book stores in the past few months. Some of these chains are in serious trouble and I feel that, until there is a major shakeup in the retail book landscape then I am not sure that putting my literary egg into that particular basket is a wise one.

I could of course, be totally wrong.

In the past few days I have begun submitting the novel to as many review sites as I possibly can and I have decided to take a crash through philosophy towards it. I have decided that I want to gather as many reviews as I possibly can, good and not so good, and I want to be fearless in this endeavour. If I can get the book noticed in as many places as I possibly can then I am maximizing my my potential for sales.

I don't know if it will work or not. In fact I really have no idea if I am doing anything right. Musing over such things in the middle of the night over the sound of a respirator is perhaps disingenuous.

The internet is so filled with noise that I feel that my voice gets lost in the scream.



  1. I definitely feel like this sometimes, too. You and I are in similar boats, you know. I mean, mine is slightly different in that I am still frantically paddling upstream towards traditional publication and you are trying to keep your boat from turning over in the indie-pubbed whirlpool. We're both struggling, just in different ways.

    I think this is easier on me though because I never expected much from The Clearing's sales. I'm unknown and I don't have much time or money for marketing. But it's not my ultimate goal - I still crave traditional publication. That is what I'm focusing on - I'm not focusing on making The Clearing super duper successful. I am just going for what you were talking about - a smallish circle of fans who get excited about it and enjoy it. I'm just trying to fill the time until I get signed with a house. But if this was my main focus? If I felt the burden of marketing The Clearing and making as many sales as possible? Oh yeah. I'd totally be struggling in that whirlpool with you.

  2. Push on Dean! It sounds like you are taking all of the steps that seem to be helping other authors sell eBooks. I haven't published yet, but the one thing I keep finding in my research is that you have to let your book grow organically. It will happen, the author just has to be patient and persistent. Are you on the KindleBoards? There are a lot of really great authors there that are friendly and supportive. Lots of great advice, no matter what direction you go with your books.

    Several different genres seem to do really well on the Barnes and Noble Nook. Romance is one of the categories that has a big following over there, even if it isn't your typical romance novel. You should check out their process.

    Good luck :) I will keep my eyes open for your book on Barnes and Noble so that I can read it on my Nook!

  3. I am on Kindleboards Nicole. Just joined there in the past week. Don't know why I didn't before now - but as I have indicated in my article, I really don't focus enough on the digital world before now.

    The novel is available on the Nook from B&N already - you can check it out here


    Alternatively you can purchase the signed ePub version directly from me, which is a compatible file format for your Nook.

    To Anne - I get you, I totally get you.

  4. You are not alone, Dean. Every writer hopes for the best for their work and fears the worst.

    We're indies. We have certain myths to overcome.

    But, as writers and as indies, we're dreamers, too. And with that comes a certain courage.

    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher

    Hang tight, Dean. You'll get there.

    Michelle Muto
    The Book of Lost Souls

  5. Hi Dean,

    Have you tried lowering your Kindle price to drum up sales? It might be worth a shot. When I release my novel in June, I'm planning on pricing it at $.99... it may not turn a huge profit, but it'll at least get my name out there to those searching for a cheap read.

    As soon as your book shows up on a few review sites, I'm sure sales will pick up, especially if it's priced right.

  6. Thanks for your comments and indeed thank you all for commenting. It means a lot when you do.

    Ania - the price point is set by my publisher so I would need to discuss that with them before going forward. It's something wortg considering.

    I'm actually feeling a lot better today. I've given some thought to what to do going forward and I am actually seeing certain things that I previously regarded as a negative more as a positive now. My singular focus now is to get reviews - as many as possible - good and otherwise. There are a few events I'm participating in coming up that I'm looking forward to as well. So all is not so bad.

  7. Dean, you aren't alone in this as indicated above. Sometimes I feel as if i'm barely treading above water in this internet ocean, but I keep going hoping that I'll be able to stay afloat. We haven't published yet, but just the pressure to build and grow is immense. I love it, and I'm very excited about the journey. I wish you all the best...and now I'm going to B&N to purchase your book! :) Have a wonderful weekend!