Support Other Authors, Even if Just by a Library Visit
Dedicated to all of the authors I have seen these last few weeks, signing in stores or trying to get into them and finding that sometimes the next step after publication can be even harder to take than the ladder to get there.
We’ve all been in each other’s shoes (and if you haven’t go ahead and imagine) - there is nothing more nerve-wracking then sitting in a small chair, with a stack of your books in front of you, hoping that one of the many people who are passing by will at least stop and look at your book. I've done it quite a few times and I'm known for selling out my copies when I do. One thing I have going for me is that I am an extrovert in many ways (I LOVE to talk to people and while my comfort zone used to not include standing behind a table full of my own work, now it does). But many other authors are introverts, making it especially difficult.
In many ways, sitting there trying to sell your book(s) is/are like trying to apply for a new job or querying every person who walks by. It is, for all intents and purposes, a speed interview. You've got a few seconds at most to flash a smile, hold your book up and often without saying anything (because you rarely get the chance to if you are in a large store and people are going right past you to get into a mall or to get to their favorite section) to try to convey to passerbys that they should give your book a chance. My publisher once explained to me about online sales (typically offline too) and how the best sales pitch in the world will get at most a 3% to 5% success rate. That means IF an author is doing the BEST he or she can there might be 3 to 5 customers out of a hundred that will buy a book.
Fortunately, I'm a stubborn person. Which is not always a good thing but it is a wonderful thing when it comes to this career. Being downright stubborn can really make a difference and in many cases keep an author going.
When we began as writers we had to strive to climb a seemingly impossible ladder to become published authors. Now that we are published, we're finding there is still some ladder to climb (even more) - and that last part is filled with our readers, both old and new, before you go back to the next book and start all over again. When we find ourselves in these difficult situations, our primary support group is each other. We understand the feelings and situations that we each through as authors. It can be a lonely, but rewarding, experience.
I love to go to local signings and pick up a copy of a book then gush about it for a few moments in front of the stall so that other people can hear and come over if an author is having a hard time getting a group around them. They are curious and if they see that someone else thinks a book is worth their time, they are more likely to think it might be worth their own. Plus, I love all things signed, though I will admit my VERY favorite thing is stickers. If every author has stickers at his or her signings I would have to do a lot more traveling to book stores.
So if you are already an author, or a hopeful author, remember to support other authors, even if just by visiting a library to pick up their book and give it a chance. Or even just to visit and tell them hello and that you know they exist – it is encouraging to see faces in the crowd and especially heartening to see familiar ones. Plus, it will help us be the stubborn people that our readers love so much. Especially when we bring them a new book!
Keep trying and remember that all of your favorite authors started out somewhere. They didn’t write a book and the next week have hundreds of people at a signing; they had to climb these same ladders, find windows when doors closed and keep taking steps forward even when at times it started to feel like a walk through the Sahara without water. Everyone starts out somewhere and if this career really has a place in your heart, then you want to push and you can get there to as long as you keep moving forward and growing as an author. You may even find yourself growing to be a better and more driven person. I know I have.
This career has become a part of who I am. Now I am able to talk to people even if I don’t know them and LOVE doing it. I can keep pushing for a ‘yes’ even when I hear people say ‘no’. Now I actually have a wonderful group of fellow bloggers, writers and overall, wonderful people, who I care about and who help me keep pushing forward. It really can all be worth it as long as you are ready and willing to take the risk and step out of your comfort zone.
Are you ready?