Thursday, November 17, 2011

Choosing my path

People ask me 'when did you know you wanted to be a writer?' and for me the answer is always the same: I honestly can't remember a time I wasn't writing or storytelling in some capacity.  Whether it was being a chatty child full of tales or creating stories in my mind of places anywhere but where I was at the time.  Bringing stories to life has always been with me.

Now, being a writer - at least for me - comes very naturally in that I can sit down and just start typing.  Like this blog, 5 minutes ago I thought maybe it was time for another posting, but I had no clue what it would be on.  I still don't actually,  but I'm willing to keep typing if you are willing to keep reading.

Anyway, the writing, creating, of it all is the easy part for me.  But people really can't understand all that publishing involves, especially everything with self-publishing.  The editing, cover design, and marketing are just the tip of the iceberg.  I also have to find the balance on what is overkill in promoting and when it's not enough.  I have to know when I need to do more research and when I need to just go with my gut.

Case in point - I recently purchased an eBook from a self-published genius who has sold MILLIONS of eBooks.  My goal was to learn the tips, tricks, and hidden handshakes of what it takes to make it (and stay) at the top of the best sellers list.  Here is what I learned:
  • Most of the marketing things I have tried so far (press releases, radio, newspapers, etc.) will not do much
  •  Knowing your audience makes the world of difference when crafting to a select group of readers
  •  Even the people looking to help you improve your sales (i.e. the self-published writer of aforementioned book) wants you to improve THEIR sales even more by buying more of their books

Now, here is what else I learned:
  • I had already realized by time I read the book what does/doesn't work for me.  I also know I will continue to learn this lesson as I sell more books
  • I have a pretty good idea who my readers are - they are the traditional romance lovers who are mothers, housewives, career women, etc. who want to escape from their life for a little time here and there and love to get lost in a steamy romance story.  They don't need vampires, werewolves or shape-shifters.  They want a man who is classy enough to not leave a love bite, has hardworking values, is solid both in character AND physique, and gives them something to fantasize about while carpooling, cleaning, selling, or sleeping.  They can handle a few curse words and have an active enough imagination that I don't have to get too graphic to turn the heat up a few notches
  • And even though people may want you to buy their other books, no matter what fee they charge - at the end of the day if you already HATE the character they have, don't bother wasting your time or money on the book

And a few more things I am learning:
  • In your face or behind the scenes, I have to be true to who I am as a person.  I won't cram my books down your throat.  I want people reading my books because they want too, not because they want me to shut up about them! 
  • I also won't 'disappear' to make you think I am searching for 'true love' for the next year, at the end of which I reemerge with a new novel and a new hope for the future.  Some have advised that I act like the greats and hide myself away, become almost a recluse who is on a quest for the next great American novel.  But the problem is - I have ZERO desire to write a great saga.  I write steamy, spontaneous, funny, sarcastic romances that make even ME blush when someone reads them out loud!

At the end of the day, when I lay in bed and try to stop the revolving doors around my plots, I have to be happy with where I am and where I am headed.  This self-publishing road is hard, there are A LOT of people with all kinds of advice for me.  I will listen to some and disregard others.  I will learn the hard way and there will be times I will be lucky enough to enjoy easy success.  Like Sinatra sang 'I did it my way'. I do it my way, even if it's the wrong way.

I know somewhere down the road I will simultaneously kick myself and pat myself on the back for the choices I have made (in my writing and in life overall).  It is the joy of the journey, the discovering of one's true self.  All I know in this moment is that I, Amy Michelle Miller-Sivil-Miller-O'Neill-TBD, can say one thing for sure ... I am a writer, always have been, always will be.

Happy reading!

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