Thursday, December 11, 2014

What I've Learnt From Failure

I must start by saying I feel very guilty posting here today; for the past ... um, do I really want to put a number on this? ... maybe three - maybe four - months, I've ignored my own blog. All the great writerly advice I've given people for the past two years on building an audience and online presence has been ignored while I deal with life: writing a new 200,000 word serial, adapting to my new full time job, continuing to settle into a new city, and all the general things of life. So I wonder if it is hypocritical of me to appear here now to offer advice.

But perhaps not.

Perhaps there is some invaluable piece of advice hidden in my experience.

Well, now you mention it...

It all comes down to: promote now, because later you're going to be even busier.

If you want to be a writer, start as early as you can building up your online presence. No effort is wasted. Put everything you can into it at the beginning, because the internet is very forgiving, as long as you get in and start. And, as I learnt, the sooner you get in, the more credit you'll have in the bank in case you need to back off later.

For the past few months I've done absolutely no book promotion. I didn't blog, or tweet, promote my facebook page or do any tours. I didn't even bring out a new book. However, I continued to get sales. My books continue to sell at roughly the same rate they have been for the past six months, which I admit is not a huge amount, but has been consistent for over a year, which is more than a lot of people can claim. That was all possible because I had done so much at the beginning.

For the first year I did everything I could. I listened to podcasts on self-publishing, internet marketing, platform building, and writing. Then I implemented as much of that advice as I could. At times it seemed a bit silly; I didn't even have a book out when I started. But luckily I didn't let that stop me.

So no matter where you are now in your writing journey throw yourself into promotion, because by the time it comes to actually promoting your book all these efforts will pay off. And they will continue to pay off even afterwards, when you may be too engrossed in writing the sequel to keep it all up. Trust me, if you're in this for the long haul, you're not going to have more time later, just more drafts to edit and books to promote.

So stop reading this and do one thing today to promote yourself as a writer. Or if you need more ideas, drop by my blog for the two years' of great advice (and eventually something new).

Buffy Greentree


  1. Hi Buffy - Thanks for that. It's great to see how all your hard work is now paying off. I just started a weekly writing tips blog in July. After 23 weeks (including Adele's brilliant guest blog), I was starting to wonder how long I can keep this up. It takes a lot of effort to write a good quality blog each week and sometimes I wonder if my time could be better spent actually working on the novel. But as you say, it's like having credit in the bank and is helping to build a platform. So thanks for the encouragement and good luck with those 100 drafts.

    1. Hi Nola,
      Well done, half a year is good going. And taking time each week to think about your writing, taking a step back and getting some perspective on what you're doing, can help keep you sane.

  2. Thanks for your wise advice, Buffy. I have had various authors contact me lately who have absolutely no idea how to go about promoting their books. Some have yet to have their books published but others actually have copies in their hands, having used some form of self-publishing, yet now have no idea how to get those books out there. I will remember your blog in future and point them towards it!

    1. There are also a lot of really good podcasts out there, though the self-publishing market is changing all the time, so it's best to start with the most recent episodes and work back.
      And remind them that while it is never too late to get marketing, the earlier the better. By the time you already have your book, you've lost the chance to build anticipation for it.
      (and sorry for the late reply, I'm having some internet issues, something everyone can relate to.)

  3. Thanks Buffy. Well done on managing good consistent sales of your books. That certainly says a lot about all you have done prior to its launch which has paid off. Sounds like you've had a lot to deal with this year. No - no need to feel guilty at all. Sometimes a bit of 'quiet time' is needed for doing life and doing some actual writing! And that's needed too. All the best with the next part of your writing journey!

    1. Thanks Anusha!
      I'm still carrying around my first cheque from Amazon, not quite able to bring myself to deposit it (though eventually the desire for the money will win out). But it's a nice reminder that I am reaching people.

  4. Good thoughts Buffy. However, I was worrying only this morning about this new idea that Face Book is about to clamp down on promotion in social media - by clamp down, I mean take the opportunity to charge for it. No more free promotion. With the Australian Christian Bookselling chains abandoning Australian authors (ie little or no online, catalogue or instore promotion, if Face Book promotion now becomes a costly exercise, then we are going to have to find yet another way to get the message out there - Smoke Signals, perhaps...

    1. Unfortunately, it's always going to be a changing field. The moment something works really well for one person, a thousand will try, and then it will no longer be effective. The big example is the 99c books for self-published authors: great for the first few, now not effective.
      The only definite ways to get sales is to build relationships. Whether you use Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter, or blogs, it doesn't matter, as long as you are touching people.
      They say that 1000 rabid fans is all you need for a career as a writer, fans who will always buy your next book and tell all their friends about it. So I try and work towards building up those sorts of relationships through whatever means I can, and moving with the market it as it changes.