I figured out why I haven't made enough money from romance novels to quit my day job (practicing law) yet. I even know why I haven't made enough dough to support myself writing full time and pay cash to buy a new house. One of my tweeps steered me towards the secret, and I wanted to share it here on the blog.
Even the duck lady is bright enough to know that what I need is a bestseller - or better yet, several. And yes, even I who am more quackers than the average quacker know that the secret to launching a book to the bestseller stratosphere is one word -- PUBLICITY. I also know what publicity is - you know what it is? EXPENSIVE.
And because I'm a strange duck lady who communicates best in writing, I'm one of those things that most people think is as real as the proverbial Magic Genie. Yes, Virginia, because I'm a lawyer who practices research and writing (a scrivener) I'm something else that far too many of you can understand. You know what that is? POOR. Yes, a poor lawyer. Go figure.
So I can't afford all that publicity, which leaves me hanging around here, on Twitter (@quackingalone) and on Facebook. I shuffle my feet a lot and try to think of pithy, not totally insane things to say that might interest readers into checking out my books. ("Hey, Ethel, this one might be good for a laugh. The writer's a complete nutcase.") But I thought that was pretty much the limit of the options my non-existent publicity budget could afford. Then, one of my gang tweeted the link to an article.
It's by Jonathan Gunson for Bestseller Labs and is entitled, "How To Get Massive Publicity For Your Book Without Spending A Cent." Despite the number of tweets flying by my account at a rate too fast for a speed-reader to follow, you can see how this piece would catch my eye. If Mr. Gunson knows that secret and is willing to let me in on it -- well, I'll stop and read that one.
He reminded me of Amanda Hocking, an author whose self-published work took off at supersonic speed, earning her enough money to quit her day job and buy a house. Sales that high attracted the attention of a traditional publisher, and now some of her stuff is published traditionally and other things are self published. And yes, Virginia (you are a nosy one, aren't you?) she did get a movie deal too....... geez.
So how did Ms. Hocking's books take off? Mr. Gunson quotes her blog in saying that in the first month her books were out, she made $362.00. That's good, but it's not supersonic, quit-your-day-job and pay-cash-for-a-house kind of good. What happened was......... book bloggers. Ms. Hocking approached several influential book bloggers who agreed to review her books. The next month, she made $3180 and the following month she earned $6527. The sales kept growing and in January of 2011 alone she sold 450,000 copies of her books. Sales made her a millionaire before the traditional publishing deal or the movie deal.
And again, she made those sales because of --- book bloggers.
So, all I have to do to earn enough money to write full time and still pay my mortgage, feed my family and put my youngest through college is --- to get book bloggers to review my books. Simple, right? Well, not so much. As Mr. Gunson also points out, influential book bloggers - the ones with a big enough audience to launch an author - are now swamped with books by authors dreaming of being launched. Mr. Gunson gives tips on how to find the right bloggers and how to approach them. They're great tips, but I already know the first two (2) bloggers in the romance genre that I'd approach - Dear Author (Jane Litte - like me, a lawyer. Hey, who needs happy endings more than lawyers?) and Smart Bitches (Sarah Wendell). What lover of romance isn't familiar with those blogs? Yes, there are others - like Romance Junkies, Heroes and Heartbreakers, and Happy Ever After, just to name a few. But, yep, DA and SB would be the first two I'd approach.
That is -- if I were going to approach ANY of them.... which I'm not.
Why not? The title of this blog post says it all -- "Think Chicken." Yep, when you think "Mary Anne Graham" you should "think chicken." Just the idea of having any of the bloggers I listed review my work is enough to shiver me timbers. Heck, it's enough to make me want to curl up and head out to the country hunting for a chicken coop to call home (not many of those along the Grand Strand - not enough room in there to house tourists).
See, I'm guessing that the early bloggers who launched Amanda Hocking gave her work good reviews. Amanda's not a crazy duck lady who writes from an over-the-top POV with her tongue tucked firmly in her cheek. I like to use history as wallpaper - despite my youngest son loving the subject so much that his career goal is to teach history at the High School or College level. History is probably all book bloggers' Holy Grail. None of them are going to agree with me that all writers get to build their worlds and that when I write about the Regency Period - it's my version of that era.
I don't even know which book I'd send them or whether they'd want it in paper or e-book form. Would I send "A Faerie Fated Forever?" It's free everywhere and they could read it free. It'd be a logical choice except -- I know it's a book that reviewers on Amazon either love a lot or hate to death. Maybe, I'd send one of my contemporaries, like: "Dangerous Relations: Seducing the Billionaire" or "Dangerous Relations: Griffin's Law." Who doesn't want to read about (forbidden) love and the law colliding in the vicinity of a hot billionaire or a law professor?
So, you know which one of 'em I'll send? That's right, NONE. I'm a chicken - or at least, part chicken. If I'm part chicken and part duck, I guess that makes me a - CHUCK.
If you read a big, famous book blogger's piece about one of my books, you can rest assured that she'll be saying something like: "This writer should never be allowed near a keyboard. We've approached Congress about passing a special law to that effect." You can also rest assured that I didn't send 'em the book.
But if you do see that someone's blogged about one of my books, please head for the chicken coop closest to Myrtle Beach and let me know.