I hope the first month of the new year is turning out to be a great one for you. It’s been one of reflection and re-evaluation for me. I know many folks come up with a list of resolutions and goals for the new year. That’s never worked for me, at least not where I thought I succeeded. More often than not, the pledges and promises made during the first week in January were long forgotten by the end of February…March at the latest.
Moving to Washington has helped me get rid of a lot of the clutter that had filled my life, career choices and my writing/publishing goals. I had been moving along at status quo, not able to break out of my rut and miserable. My health once again took a backseat as I let stress rule and depression take over. My home life suffered. I didn’t feel like I could give my best to my patients and my muses all hid on me and stayed silent.
Within a month of our move, the weight lifted from my shoulders and I found joy in veterinary medicine again. My characters clamored to be heard once more and I finally admitted to myself I need help to get my health back on track. First step on that journey is to eliminate as much stress from my life as I can. One big stressor for me has been finding ways to connect with new readers and socialize with other authors without coming off as spamming.
I had joined support groups in order to find out what worked for others and see if any of it would help me. Some methods did help and decreased my work load, but the majority of it made my stress and anxiety levels soar. Between the review swaps, like for a like, voting on Goodreads lists, tweet teams and promo posts and events, my brain damn near exploded. All of it seemed disingenuous. I wanted REAL reviews from actual readers. Still, I tried a few of the groups. In the end all of it fell flat for me. Members of some of the groups took advantage of the group dynamic but when it was their turn to reciprocate, they bailed…usually when it was time to share/help promote my stuff.
Belonging to some other groups frustrated the hell out of me because I was being lectured to on a daily basis about what I was doing wrong and if I wanted to succeed as an self published author I had to follow their way or hit the highway. Funny thing: these people know even less about what actually works in the publishing world than I did. When confronted with tried and true methods from authors who have made all the mistakes and learned from them in order to reach their success, these same people laugh and go about doing the same annoying spam posts, stacking Goodreads lists and swapping reviews.
Never mind their behavior has attracted the “trolls” who don’t take too kindly to their reader lists being manipulated. When a book by an unknown author RELEASES with over 50 five star reviews, it raises flags…and not the good kind. It also causes a backlash against anyone thought to be friends or associated with the unknown author.
Honestly, I can’t say I blame readers and reviewers from being pissed. I am as well. Why is it “okay” to manipulate the system to give the illusion of being a best seller? Why isn’t it enough to use social media to make connections and friendships that help readers discover your work? Why is it acceptable to hound fellow authors to like your page, buy your books or follow you back on Twitter?
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
A friend of mine came to the same conclusion and penned a beautiful post about it. Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author. She’s a hybrid having published on her own and this year she will be with THREE different publishers. Her memoir was voted one of the top ten inspirational reads in 2014. She didn’t even know that poll existed until her book was listed on it. THAT my friends is true success. Click HERE for her post and see why she is one of the people I most admire. She inspires me each and every day to reach for the stars.
Like Amber, I’m continuing to declutter and revamp myself and all of my alter egos. Streamlining is our top priority now. I’m going with the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. There is no reason that I have to be so wrapped up in promotions, lists, sales, giveaways, blog hops and begging for people to check out my books. I want to WRITE! I want people to enjoy my stories. They can’t do that if I don’t have them down on paper or published electronically. If they’re hidden away in my brain, no one will get attached to the characters I love.
Yes writing and publishing books isn’t easy. It’s not meant to be. It’s a labor of love that takes hard work and dedication to bring everything to fruition. It takes developing a thick skin to take the criticism and guidance of editors, reviewers and readers who really want to see you succeed and won’t coddle you or let you think you’re the best thing since pepper jack cheese. 🙂
As an author, I need the feedback to improve my writing but not change my stories. They’re my tales to tell. They won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but they do appeal to many. I’m grateful for each and every one of them for taking the time to read my work and give me their honest opinions. Sometimes their words sting, but I’ve learned from them and have grown as a writer.
I’ll keep writing and reaching for the stars. I Got This!
Who’s with me?
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