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I remember how excited I was after I made my first book, Poetry From the Heart Poems of Faith. I remember how thrilled I was, when after months of watching videos about ISBN’s, book titles, how to create a create space account, and more, I finally hit the publish button and my humble little poetry book went live. I remember the anticipation as day after day, as I worked on my next book, I checked to see if I had made a sale.
There was just one problem, as a brand-new self-published author, who felt like on the day she published her first book she had graduated from preschool and made the move to kindergarten, I knew absolutely nothing about the importance of creating an author platform or running ads. Without even realizing it, I had made a tentative step in creating an author platform when I started my You Tube Channel Poetry From the Heart and started creating poetry videos and a few months later I created this blog and started sharing my videos to widen my audience. It was a great way to introduce people to my poetry, but it did nothing to sell my books.
The whole idea of selling my books was terrifying. The idea of sharing one of my poems and adding a simple line at the end such as if you enjoyed this poem, you might like my book School Days, made me anxious. How would people feel if at the end of my video I put an ad for my book or linked to my book in my blogs. Surely such an action would cause people to think that I was being tacky or pushy. Some people would probably get annoyed and never look at another video or read another one of my blogs again. After all, no one likes an aggressive car salesman, and if I let people know about my books, even politely, they would be sure to think that I was being a pushy saleswoman.
Thanks to this fear, I did nothing for the first two years to advertise my book. Which of course meant that for two years the only copy of my book that I sold was to one of my aunts. Hardly a way to create a sustainable living.
And this is the problem. As wonderful as it is to write a book for the sheer joy of the creative experience, this joy will not put food on the table. It will not pay the bills, ensure a roof over the head, or cover the must have and little wants of life. After years of making no sales, I finally realized that if my writing was going to have a chance at becoming more than a hobby, I could not continue to let the fear of those who would jump up and arms and condemn even the mildest promotion of my book have control.
There will always be those who complain that any attempt to sell or promote my books is wrong. The simple act of inserting a picture of one of my books
and then letting you decide if you want to click the link and see if you might like it will be seen as over the top commercialism. After all, what am I doing trying to make a living with my writing? I should be content to write for the joy of writing. I should use my skill to spread joy and love and let that feed my heart and keep my body warm. Yet some of these same critics will have no issue with the fact that already established writers making a profit from their works or athletes and actors using their skills to make millions.
One of the biggest lessons I (and anyone who wants to write for a living) have had to learn is that I have to stop trying to please the crowd, because as the old saying goes, you can never please everyone. Maybe inserting a few adds for my books, turning on ads, trying to become an amazon ads associate will turn some people off. But if it is not this, there would always be something else that would make them mad.
If I am ever to reach my goal of becoming a real writer, of earning a living off of my books I have to listen to the experts and start promoting them. I can spend a lifetime creating blog post and videos that show off my poems, yet this will never sell one book. Because like it or not, no one will ever buy a book that they know nothing about.