I've been deliberately absent from social media for the last few weeks -- not because I got lazy, or distracted by holiday hoopla, or because I was glued to my television, binge-watching all seven seasons of Game of Thrones (which I was). No. I had a few things to figure out and I had to take a step back so I could take stock.
So here's the thing. I love creating unique new ways to advertise my books, and I love my website which is now three-dimensional and so much more interesting than the one page collage of photos and blurbs that I started out with. I also love posting on social media and attracting followers, and doing interviews, and interviewing other authors for my website. I love my Linda Lingle Books business cards, note cards, postcards, tote bags, table runners, and car magnets, and the custom mugs I had made to proclaim to the world that I am an honest-to-God published author. The problem is, none of this stuff loves me back.
Everyone at Solstice has said, again and again, that sales are NOT a yardstick of success for new authors. I've been trying to maintain this perspective, but it's tough to keep singing heigh-ho, heigh-ho and tra la la when you feel like all of your colleagues are killing it while you're stuck in neutral and spinning your wheels. Then, a couple of days ago I read a blog by a fellow Solstice author, who promotes like a whirling dervish and does scores of personal appearances. I believed that she was raking in the royalties and sitting on top of the world, only to find out that, after three years, and a promotional regime that outpaces mine, she is really no better off than I am. WTF?
So, after beating the bushes for eight months with little to show for it, I've come to the conclusion that it's time for a course correction, and here it is.
First off, no one except me really cares about Sinatra Monday or Feinstein Friday, so I'm scrapping them. I've noticed that Michael Feinstein has started posting on Facebook and I'll share some of his stuff, but that's not the same thing.
Secondly -- and I never thought I'd say this, I'm running out of things to say on my blog, so I'm going from posting a new blog every Sunday to posting once or twice a month, as the spirit moves me. The half dozen of you who have followed my blog through thick and thin can now breathe a sigh of relief that you won't have to slog through weak-ass blogs, thrown together just to meet a deadline.
Third, I'm going to stop buying ads on book promo websites, and paying to boost my Facebook and Twitter posts, because there has been no return on those investments, and it's time to stop beating that dead horse. Instead, I'm exploring another avenue to bring my books to the attention of people who aren't related to me, friends with me or jogging along side me trying to promote their own books. This doesn't mean that you won't be seeing DEAR HEART plugs on my social media accounts, you will. But with a little luck, so will a whole new demographic in a different venue. Conversely, you won't be seeing many SWEET HEART plugs because SWEET HEART is not a stand-alone novel in the same way DEAR HEART is, and I've decided that the way to boost sales for this companion book is to promote DEAR HEART until my fingers bleed, and pray to God that readers will like it enough to want to read Lee's story.
Finally, I'm going to overhaul my social media presence. I stopped posting on Google Plus about a month ago because I found out that it's shutting down in April, so what's the point? As for Facebook and Twitter, I've heard all of you silently screaming that you wish to hell you could follow me on social media without feeling like you were being force-fed endless buy- this-book posts for people you don't know, so I'm differentiating my accounts. On Facebook, I'll have a page for my personal stuff (Linda Lingle), an author page to feature my books and blogs (Linda Lingle Books), and a page to showcase other authors and their work (Linda Lingle Recommends). On Twitter, I'll have a personal page (@lindalinglebks) and a page dedicated to other authors (@LLrecommends). I'm not sure how or if this new approach to social media will work out, but I felt your pain and hope this will help to lessen it.
I won't be doing guest appearances because, at this stage of the game, no one but my friends want a signed book from me, and many of my colleagues have tried this approach and found that it did nothing for their sales rankings. Speaking of which, I also won't be offering DEAR HEART for free on Amazon just to boost my sales ranking or in the hope that it will generate sales for SWEET HEART because, in my mind, a free download doesn't qualify as a sale, and the chances that folks who read DEAR HEART for free will buy SWEET HEART are about as good as a snowball's chance in hell. Don't get me wrong, it's not about the money. But, come on, you can get Kindle versions of both books for less than the cost of a Salted Caramel Mocha Latte, and if I don't think my two books are worth at least $4.98, who will? These are not new steps, because I haven't been doing any of this stuff to begin with; what's new is that I'm going to stop feeling guilty about not doing them.
I realize that I have to be patient and build my brand and play the long game. But that's a tall order for a driven, Type A, somewhat anal overachiever, and I got tired of looking at sales rankings in the 2 millions and deluding myself that they'll improve if I stay the same course. This doesn't mean I'm giving up, far from it. I'm just tweaking my approach. It may help, it may not help, but either way, it beats continuing to do the exact same thing day in and day out and expecting a different outcome. I may tend toward the delusional, but I am not insane.