Traveling the indie publishing road can be a daunting and lonely journey. For the novice, there are plenty of opportunities to take a wrong turn, stumble, or lose sight of your destination. The entire experience practically begs you to throw yourself an occasional Pity Party, or two, or three.
I have hosted some killer woe-is-me celebrations. Instead of a hangover, these blow outs always leave me in a funk. My last, and most impressive, fete was a month-long celebration after the rush of my book launch abruptly came to a halt. I won’t liken it to post-par tum depression (not out loud anyway), but it was pretty miserable.
Everything leading up to the launch of my book was exhilarating. I had the launch party to plan, books to order, swag to buy. The launch party was a huge success. I sold hundreds of books that month and scheduled a handful of author visits. I received scads of 5-star reviews, and my book was featured on a few blogs. People were buzzing about my book, and I was on cloud nine. Then…crickets. Nothing happened. I went from living and breathing my book to staring at a pile of them. Cue the Pity-Party music and back-up dancers.
Gloom and Doom became my BFF’s. I beat myself up for not selling more books. I couldn’t think of anything to write. And, to make matters worse, I had spent a lot of money on self-publishing a book I was sure would never again see the light of day.
Since I couldn’t write, I read. I went to the library. I started reading picture books again. I found solace in the kid lit community. I read blog posts and articles, tweets and memes.
One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.
The author’s message helped me alter how I perceive my success and allow myself to appreciate the little moments as much as the big ones. That paradigm shift removed a huge roadblock in my writing career-a roadblock constructed by me.
My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.
Instead of complaining that only 5 people showed up at my Barnes and Noble author event, I pinch myself. I look around and think, “OMG! My book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!” Rather than beating myself up that my online sales are not in the thousands, I take pride knowing a book I wrote is in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.
Not that I’m a masochist, but I kind of like this whole pinching thing. It seems the more I do it, the more “pinch able” moments come my way. My book is on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). The Horn Book Magazine reviewed a collection of indie books for the first time in the history of the magazine, and my book was included (bad pinch on that one-Roger Sutton is not a fairy fan). School children in the UK chose to dress up as Dust Fairies (complete with matching dust bunny dolls) for World Book Day (pinch). My book has been a #1 Kindle on Amazon (pinch). I started a successful literacy initiative, and we’ve collected more than 300 books for children of incarcerated parents (pinch).
But, the best “pinches” by far, are all of the incredibly kind, gifted, generous people I have met on this journey. Thanks for your inspiration, humor, and support.
I love hearing from you. Tell me your best pity or pinch party story!
Here’s my original blog post from last December:
I am a writer. I have met a lot of writers. Most of us are very hard on ourselves. Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing. For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc. Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch. This New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.
As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Don’t quit your day dream. Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.
By HARLAN COBENNOV. 28, 2014
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.
I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.
During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.
I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”
Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.
Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.
The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”
“That’s your novel, right?”
He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.
“Right,” I said.
He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”
I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.
He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, authors giving back, blogging, indie author, kidlit, Michelle Eastman, Self-Publishing, writers' blues Tags: #1 book, #booknerd, #kidlit, amazon, amwriting, appreciation, author, author support, bestseller, blessed, blogging, book sales, boys' books, children's authors, children's literature, christian, fables, families, favorite bedtime stories, fiction, generosity, grateful, kids' books, kindle, legends, preschool, read aloud, rhyming, self-publishing indie author, top picture book
WARNING-Shameless Plug to follow…
I’m celebrating the 6 month birthday of my first published children’s book. The whole experience has been more than a bit surreal. I never dreamed I’d see my self-published book on the shelves of libraries and bookstores, let alone that people would ask me to sign copies. I also never thought I’d come up with another idea for a book. But, Kevin Richter and I are currently working on book #2 in what has now become a series of Dust Fairy books. Needless to say, I am blessed.
The star of our newest book is Absolutely Aggie. She longs to join the fairy band, but she is too loud, too bold, and just too much for the more dainty fairies in the group. Aggie follows her heart, and she eventually discovers you don’t have to be perfect to find your perfect fit. You can read the latest Dust Fairy updates on Facebook.
I’m also blessed to enjoy the company of my awesome blogging buddies. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me.
So, here comes the plug.
In honor of the 6 month anniversary of my book, I am offering the Kindle version for 99 cents for 6 days. If you enjoy picture books with colorful pictures and subtle, yet sincere take-away messages, you won’t be disappointed in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale.
Thanks to Chris, The Story Reading Ape for pointing out that I previously did not include the Amazon link. Be sure to check out his blog. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for Indie authors! He is amazingly generous (not sure he’ll let you eat his dishes, though).
Here is the US Amazon link to get your .99 cent Kindle book:
The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NT6MXM0/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_awdm_KZKvvb1XC9JFF via @amazon
Here’s a preview of the book I created using Animoto:
Are you celebrating something special? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply!
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, blogging, book marketing, fairies, families, indie author, Kevin Richter, Michelle Eastman, Self-Publishing, writing for kids Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, 99 cents, a Fairy's Tale, amazon, author, bedtime stories, bestseller, book birthday, book marketing, book promotion, children's authors, children's book, children's literature, indie author, kids' books, kindle, picture book, self-publishing indie author, writing for kids
Writing is a solitary vocation. I spend a lot of time alone, pondering and reflecting, constructing and connecting. Most recently I connected my life, as a writer, to a well-known poem by Robert Fulghum. http://www.robertfulghum.com/ In the poem, Fulghum reflects on his days in kindergarten and how those lessons prepared him for life.
As I read his words, I began to ponder how becoming an author has enriched my life. I may not have learned “All I really need to know”, but I am constructing my journey one keystroke and lesson at a time.
All I really need to know…I learned writing kids’ Books
Give back to your fellow writers. Share articles and resources. Share your failures; they matter too. Lift someone up; show him the way. Give your books away to kids in need. Give back to your community.
I have dues to pay, like everyone else. There are no short-cuts or secret formulas to getting your books published or noticed.
Don’t hit people-
over the head with book promotions. It’s a fine line we walk when we promote our books. When in doubt, less is ALWAYS more!
Put things back where you found them-
Being an organized writer leads to being a productive writer (took me a long time to accept this one). This rule also applies to cats sleeping on your lap while you write. If you must disturb them, return them to your lap immediately.
Clean up your own mess-
I am a better writer when I can see the top of my workspace (fought this one for years). Cats sitting on your workspace are exempt.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours-
Whenever you quote or reference someone else or his/her work, give him/her proper credit.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody-
For me, this pertains to my husband. He is often on the receiving end of my writer’s block crankiness and endures my need for isolation when the block gives way.
Wash your hands before you eat-
A good practice on those rare occasions when I pry myself from my WIP to eat.
Sometimes I have to let go of an idea that is not working to create space for a new one.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you-
And they make for delicious refreshments at book signing events.
Live a balanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some-
Okay, I’m still working on that one.
Take a nap every afternoon-
My cats handle this one for me.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together-
I am blessed to go out into the kid lit world, holding hands with some of the best people I know. Winding our way through the streets of the publishing world; we stick together.
Be aware of wonder-
Without this, how would we create anything new?
Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup; The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we-
The wonderful thing is that, as writers, we can make these moments matter. And what we write can matter to someone in a profound way.
And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned-the biggest word of all-LOOK-
My greatest joy, as a children’s author, is seeing my words reflected through another person’s eyes. In that book, for those few moments, we look at the world together.
What has your writing journey taught you? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, author, authors giving back, blogging, indie author, kidlit, Michelle Eastman, new author, Self-Publishing, writing for kids Tags: #kidlit, amwriting, author, author support, how to, indie author, kids' books, self-published author, self-publishing, self-publishing indie author
Top 5 Things Indie-Authors Should Avoid (or How to Avoid the Trappings of Indie Fame and Fortune)
No one can deny that self-publishing is a glamorous vocation. If you are an indie, you know what I mean. But, I urge you not to get caught up with the trappings of the indie-author lifestyle; try to remain humble. The following is a list of general suggestions. I am an indie children’s book author, but the guidelines can be tailored to suit your own needs.
- Do NOT do this when your Amazon sales reach double digits.
- Resist the urge to wear your fur coat when opening rejection letters.
- It’s probably best not to eat caviar while cutting out your home-made bookmarks.
- Your hair and make-up team is not necessary when posting selfies of you and your book.
- Don’t forget the little people; kids are the best fans!
I try my best to stay humble, despite my oh-so-glamorous life as an indie kids’ book author.
But it is hard…
when I work in a place like this-
with assistants like these-
So, my indie friends, enjoy the fame that comes with what we do. You are rock-stars! Embrace it! Write on!