by Cynthia Hilston
It’s hard sometimes when in the midst of a problem to see past it. Everything looks blurry. The road ahead is unclear.
It’s easy to let emotions take control during these trying times, and next thing you know, you’re blowing up a balloon meant for a birthday party into a hot air balloon — yes, lots of hot air and a balloon not meant for flying, so it pops.
This is when you and I need to stop. Just stop. Seriously.
Take a deep breath. Several if you must. Close your eyes. Count to ten. Or one hundred. Whatever it takes to calm down.
My latest frustration — well, one of them — has been educating myself on how to market better. I am a writer, not a marketer. I do not have a business degree in marketing. I am no expert. Neither am I foolish enough to think that the stuff I write is just going to sell itself. Something like 1000 books are published every day. That’s 30,000 books a month!
It doesn’t take long to get up to my eyeballs in terms like “author platform,” “branding,” and “target audience.” Say what?
Okay, so I’m a newbie at this marketing stuff. I don’t know heads from tails, really. I’ve been reading daily for two meager weeks about marketing, but I am learning. I highly recommend Rachel Thompson’s book, BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month. It’s somewhere to start. I’ve learned to use Twitter more. I’m creating simple, hopefully eye-catching graphics using Pablo at Buffer.com — free and easy to use. I’m using Buffer.com to regularly post things daily across my social media platforms.
The posting has been going for about a month, and I have to be honest — it’s not generating the “likes” I was hoping for. Then again, what did I honestly expect? These things don’t just happen overnight.
So, this whole marketing thing has gotten to me. It’s easy and tempting to want to whine about it and think that I’m just being ignored. Oh, poor me. Pity party city.
To which another side of me says, “Grow up, Cynthia.” Seriously.
This is where I need to stop. Take a deep breath.
Let’s talk about keeping the perspective.
I’ve only been writing original works of fiction for a little over two years. In the sea of authors, that’s dipping a toe in the Pacific Ocean. I have self-published one book to little success, but I have gotten a handful of reviews. I have gotten people outside of my circle of family and friends to read it. That’s a start.
Three years ago: I wasn’t writing anything original. My first book idea was stuck at four chapters I’d written more than five years earlier.
Two years ago: I was just starting out on my journey as a writer of original stories. I had no idea if I was even going to finish my first book, but for the first time in my life, I was committed to sitting down every day and writing, even if it was only for ten minutes.
If you’re serious about your writing, commit to ten minutes a day. Give yourself that much, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish. I am living proof of that.
One year ago: I had finished my first draft in ten months. It had subsequently gone through four months of edits by friends. I was querying agents, not really having any idea what I was doing. I had just started (and I mean just) writing my second and third stories.
Now: I have finished books two and three in their first drafts. Book two is nearly done going through edits. Book three is about to enter the editing phase. I am writing books four and five. I have ideas for six and seven. I am blogging regularly on a site that has a domain name. I am active on social media. I am beginning to market.
And that’s not even to mention all the amazing people I’ve met along the way! I have made some great contacts online, especially in the Facebook group 10 Minute Novelists. There are many awesome Facebook groups for meeting other writers, finding beta-readers, or exchanging ideas, but this group is by far the best in my opinion.
I have also become friends with several people from a writers group that meets regularly at my local library. We have the commonality of being writers, but when we meet, we bare our hearts and souls at times. After all, as writers, we often pour our deepest selves into our writing. I’d strongly recommend checking out your local library for such a group.
It’s the people who are the greatest blessing from all of this. And I’m writing, doing what I love. Yes, even in the midst of learning how to market.
One step at a time.
When you’re overwhelmed by whatever problem is trying to eat you, eat it instead by remembering how far you’ve already come. Don’t compare yourself to others. That only brings misery. The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
You got this. Keep going. It’s worth it.
Cynthia Hilston is the author of Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, based loosely off her late grandma’s life. She is a mommy of three young-ins, an orange kitty, and more stories on the way. Follow her blog at Cynthia Hilston, Author or find her on Facebook.