This article, written by Tawdra Kandle, is from the December 2022 edition of Nink, the monthly newsletter of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). Nink, which is packed each month with informative articles for career novelists, is a benefit of NINC membership.
Welcome to the month of December, the time of year when many authors are both looking back at what worked and what didn’t go so well over the past twelve months … while at the same time, we begin to plan in earnest for the next year of writing, releasing, and marketing.
For those of us who attended the NINC conference, as well as perhaps a few other author education events that take place in the last quarter of the year, we might be thinking about everything we’ve learned and wondering what to implement—and how to make it happen.
I love to plan. Give me a beautifully blank notebook, a spanking brand-new planner system, or a nifty spreadsheet on my laptop, and I’m a happy woman. But I’ve been in this business long enough to realize that the best-laid plans of mice and authors can often go awry … and marketing can be one of the most unpredictable parts of our career.
So this year, as I contemplate the perfectly pristine months of 2023, I’m attempting to look at the future from a new and different angle—or maybe even from several different angles.
Late last year, at the suggestion of several uncon attendees, I joined a Facebook group led by bestselling authors (and NINC members) Renee Rose and Lee Savino. It was all about abundance and mindset, and to be honest, for the first few months, I didn’t visit the group often. But once I did, I discovered a new dimension to my author business as well as a fresh way of looking at how I was doing things and how I felt about my books.
One of the most eye-opening lessons I’ve learned (so far) has involved my own complicated feelings about my books. Look, I understand the sage advice that we should treat our books as employees, as resources, not as extensions of ourselves. It would be fabulous if we could always do that. But even as we’re savvy businesspeople, we’re also artists and, for better or for worse, our art is part of our souls. We might not want to care about our books’ success on an emotional level, but most of us do, even if it’s just a little bit.
Consequently, it’s all too easy in this career to jump to some conclusions that can lead to a downward spiral. A release doesn’t explode out of the gate, or a long-planned sale falls flat, and we’re often ready to blame ourselves or our books. But the truth is, even the most perfectly constructed and executed book can falter if other elements aren’t aligned. And some books are simply slightly ahead of—or behind—their time.
In her recent release, Write to Riches, Renee Rose recommends that instead of being constantly and extremely critical about our own work, we should consider pouring love all over our books.
“Find out what you love about your book; it won’t make you oblivious to what’s not working. In fact, it will be the opposite. You’ll know what tweaks are necessary to make it better.”
Falling in love with our books can do more than help us see how to make them shine. Experiencing love for them can also help us attract readers.
“Being in an energy of love will in turn make your readers love the book,” notes Rose. “When you pour your love into your book, they can feel it when they read it. “When you love your characters, you write them better. When you delight yourselves with plot twists, the readers will be delighted!”
Is all of this slightly woo-woo? No question about it. But there’s an enormous amount of anecdotal evidence supporting the fact that this can work for us. Not only does Rose include numerous case studies in her book, but there are also a large group of authors touting the benefits of manifesting the best for our books and our careers.
I have a hunch that it’s important to balance both sides of our personalities when considering leveling up our business through better, more efficient marketing. Yes, I’m wildly enthusiastic about what I’ve learned through meditations, manifestation training, and clearing my life-long money blocks. At the same time, I’m open to and curious about refining the more mundane, but nevertheless essential, aspect of authordom—things like LLCs, payrolls, and deductions, as well as how to make sure I’m giving every customer—or potential customer—the experience I’ve promised.
Which leads us to the flip side of the same coin. When I love one of my books and raise its vibration to attract the right readers, I’m doing it for my readers. Thus, I also need to ensure that the rest of their customer experience equals what I’ve committed to present.
Thinking about these valuable lessons and taking a longer, overarching, big-picture view of my business has been a recurring theme in 2022—and one that I anticipate carrying over into next year as I put into action what I’ve learned so far. While I fully expect to be intentional and thoughtful about how I see myself, present myself, and love my own work, I also know that there are certain key parts of running my own business that I’ve neglected. It’s past time for me to change that.
If you were at the conference this year, you may have attended a session led by Joe Solari called Author Business Makeover. In it, we discussed a project Joe and I have been working on for a few years. To put it bluntly, I’m the guinea pig in this author makeover. Joe’s been working with me, helping me to develop a strategy to revamp my business model and rescue my career from fading into obscurity.
It hasn’t been an easy process. In many ways, I’ve had to unlearn all of the lessons I’d accepted without questions over the past ten years. Let’s face it: The indie publishing world has almost always been one where the new bright and shiny way of doing things gets the most attention. Rapid releasing? Let’s all put out a new book every two weeks. Facebook/Amazon/BookBub ads? Take the newest, most popular course, and pour money into advertisements.
I’m not denying the usefulness of any of the tools we have available to us as authors. I’m grateful for everything that helps us to be more efficient, to reach new audiences, and to improve our relationship with readers. But not all of the current strategies work for the vast majority of professional authors … and it’s possible that we may have to radically shift our focus and our expectations in order to remain relevant.
What this means for us—and how we can all apply the lessons I’m learning, even if we’re already experiencing overwhelming success—is something I’m going to unpack in this column throughout 2023. We’ll begin by addressing the important question of how I arrived where I am after over a decade of steady publishing—and this matters because I know I’m not alone—I’m not the only one who’s looking around and wondering how doing all the so-called right things has landed me in this position.
I hope you’ll join me on this walk as I learn to maximize my own books and build a strong reader fanbase. I can promise a little bit of the woo along with the work, because I know that my mindset has to be in the right place for my business to soar.
The conference theme in 2022 was Work Smarter. My goal is to help all of us to do just that—and to help us become wildly successful along the way.