Saturday, November 7, 2015

Am I Working on Any New Books? Or, How Marketing Killed My Muse

I'm often asked if I am working on any books right now.  My guess is that people ask this for several reasons but most likely because it's a nice way to make conversation. Or, they are interested in the elusive "writer person" they know who rarely discusses writing in social company or and this is one is guided by my own conscious - they wonder why in the hell I haven't written (and really I mean publish) anything new since my last book which is now 3 years old.  My pat answer is yes, I have works in progress (WIPs to those who speak the lingo) but the mojo just hasn't been there.  And that would be the truth.  What I don't tell them is that my brain is going all of the time.  I have more great beginnings than even I realize but somewhere between five or 10,000 words in, I lose focus.  I get side tracked.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about this recently because I've got some really good ideas and it's time to get moving.  So what stops me?  Again, my default response would be to lean toward humor - my muse lives at the beach while I live in the desert.  We aren't on speaking terms right now.  Something like that.

The truth is and it dawned on me just recently is two fold.  The first is marketing.  When a writer signs with a publisher they often receive an advance check followed by royalties (pennies per book) on sales. Unless you are John Grisham or Patricia Cornwell or some other famous author, the amount of time and money spent marketing your book by a publisher is best summed up as "not much." Many of us have opted to go independent, publish on our own. There are benefits to that, the most important being royalties earned on every book - paperbacks maybe $1 but the ebook market is 70%.  I always encourage people to buy ebooks whenever possible.  It is environmentally sound. . . and I make more for my work : ) The downside is that an independent author is responsible for their own marketing.  And that, my friends, is the rub.  Marketing is time consuming.  Where are the best places to advertise?  Spend time researching it. What is the return on a marketing dollar? Spend time on spread sheets. Does your book fit in the parameters of said market? Spend time researching best avenues for your genre. The digital age has thrown even more curve balls because the algorithms change constantly. Algorithms - look it up. Keeping up with that is important for keeping sales afloat and it takes a lot of time.  By the time I have completed my marketing homework everyday, I'm ready to toss my computer out the window. So, basically marketing has killed my writing muse.  Today I decided I am done marketing.  Sales have been good for all of my books, I can't lie but, I'm done.  If I'm going to write, I have to get to it - whether sales remain constant or not. Ok. Gosh, that feels good.  Now on to the next reason and full disclosure - this gets kind of heavy.

My last book, No Such Thing, was based on a deeply disturbing time in the lives of the community in which I was raised. A serial killer, a pedophile preyed upon young kids in a very small area, abducted them, held them hostage, abused them and then killed them.  Something like that sends deep ripples through the community in which it occurs. It anchors its vile tentacles to every single person who becomes aware of the crimes and shapes how people live the rest of their lives- sometimes in subtle ways for which we are often unaware. For me it was even closer because of who the "final" victim was, Tim King.  Tim was the youngest brother of my friend and the friend of my youngest brother-in-law.  Still, I AM NO ONE in comparison to the family members who lived on after their children or siblings were abducted and murdered. I wanted to write a book that told the real story. I wanted to write it true to what was known but what was known has inflated, changed shape and become bloated by lies and lore.  And, the worst is that there is still no ending.  It's still an open case because none of the suspects have been charged.  So, I had to go with fiction because I needed an ending.  It sucked the life out of me to write it and it's taken awhile to dissipate the consumption that this case causes in me. I don't know that it will ever go away but, it's time to allow these other characters to live the life they have been living in my head for so long.

Thanks for asking, my friends, because it forced me to face some truths and thanks for listening but I've got to go. . .there's some writing to be done.

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