By David E. Sharp
Gripping the reins of my imagination, I pull them back with a white-knuckle grip, desperate to gain altitude before this whole thing crashes into the dark, cold ocean of dejection and everything goes to pieces. My caffeine gauge hovers over empty. My single operational engine sputters and sparks. How did it come to this?
HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?
Flashback to January, one year prior.
My writing year began at a frenetic pace. Having completed the final manuscript for my follow-up novel, I found myself in the throws of prerelease pandemonium. My release date was fast approaching, and I was transmitting radio signals to anyone who would listen: “This is the captain of the L.o.a.P: Character Developments. Requesting permission to market. Over.”
I had tried my hand at marketing before. Everything from blog tours to signing events, radio spots to printed ads, contests to live readings. And, of course, social media. It’s always hit or miss. Some strategies work better than others. Special discount events through Amazon and the coveted Bookbub promotion have given me the best results. But I had a sequel coming out, and I didn’t have time to mess around.
The truth is, writing the book is just the beginning. Marketing is a big job, and those books will not sell themselves. I have tried a lot of different techniques. Contests can be terrific, but they often have an entry fee. Some contests are better than others, so I’ve learned to choose carefully. I have little luck with social media, but I maintain a sparse presence on Facebook and Twitter. However, landing a spot on a big established newsletter can create a notable spike in book sales. Easily the most bang for my buck.
Refueling in April.
I made a deter to a supply depot I had been to before. A sign hung over the entrance declaring it The Writing Heights Writers Conference. This place had everything. I topped off my inspiration, recalibrated my creativity, and took some pointers from the impressive gathering of experienced writers, agents, editors, and publishers.
Not one to spurn professional advice, I learned I had been flying without a website for too long. It was high time I remedied that. Fortunately, this conference had an informative session about creating effective author sites with many examples. I also encountered a terrific marketing guide who pointed out different routes to marketing I had never tried. Networking for honest reviews, taking a guest spot on a podcast, and writing guest spots on your favorite blogs (hint, hint) are all great ideas.
Fueled up, I took to the skies.
I put on my marketing face and got to work. I nailed down my website, which you can see here: https://davidesharp.com/. I was thrilled to appear on the Indie Writer Podcast. And my book launched on a crisp May morning to blue skies and favorable winds. And what a gorgeous cover! Props to my publisher’s design folks.
On a writing high like this, there is only one thing to do. Draft a bunch of short stories! They didn’t all take wing, but I had a few favorites worth submitting. I connected with a few anthologies and hoped for the best. Navigating a clear summer sky, I cracked the spines of a few books and returned to my roots as an avid reader.
Then I got the distress call.
My novel was in trouble. Well, actually, the reviews were doing all right. But I had left some things open-ended, and I was due to start working on the next book in the series. So, tightening my flight goggles and plotting my course, I set off again. Through darkened skies and tumultuous winds, I pushed on. Facing menacing rewrites, debilitating writer’s block, and perilous distraction by corgis, I placed word after word after word.
And that brings me full circle. I lost the first engine undermining my plot points, and the rewrites will get hairy. Nevertheless, I maintain my bearing through a Save the Cat plot structure. My manuscript strains against the literary forces threatening to tear it apart. But we’ve been here before, and we will make it through.
Just as things look the bleakest, I catch an updraft. I have an idea to carry the story in a bold new direction. Or it will throw us into a whole new spiral. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, it feels great to be in the pilot seat.