You have to get down in the weeds to win

You have to consider your writings as products and market them if you ever hope to show a profit. The “Art” of writing well is a skill you have acquired over time and through a great deal of effort. Your books – novels, collections of short stories or poetry or recipes, what have you – are the products of your efforts.

That, I am sorry to say, is not enough. The world will not beat a path to your door, nobody will make a major motion picture of your life and your works, you will not be hounded by reporters when you show yourself on the street and you will not be invited to accept any Emmy’s or Oscars for your lifetime achievements in the arts simply because you wrote a book once.

But keep dreaming; don’t ever quit dreaming. You can get there, someday. Maybe. But first, you have to get down in the dirt and sell yourself and your books.

I’ve gone over the art and science of selling, branding, marketing and promotion in several previous posts; just look through the archives if you are so inclined, or check out several other author’s sites for more of the same. None of those sources will cost you a penny, and I guarantee you will learn what you need to know to make some of your dreams come true.

What you will find in my blog archives is the result of years of research boiled down to its essentials. And all of that can be summed in a very few words; “Don’t ever quit on yourself”, and “Persistence pays better than sloth.”

You won’t get it right the first time (if you do let me know what you did, please). Go ahead and cry, kick your feet and scream, do a bit of sailor-like cursing and then figure out what you did wrong, adjust your thinking and your plan of action and then give it another shot. Repeat as necessary.

I’ve spent the last few years marketing my novels through the Kindle Select program with good success. But this year sales have dropped into the basement, so I withdrew from the program (the novels are still available on Kindle and will continue to be) and signed up with Smashwords. The first three novels – “The Big Bend”, “Hog Valley” and “Twisted Key” are now on the Nook, Kobo and Apple/iTunes platforms along with the Kindle.

We’ll see how that goes over the next few months.

I’ve also had audiobook versions of “The Big Bend” and “Hog Valley” ready to go to market since the first of the year; ACX (Amazon’s aggregator for audiobook distribution with Audible and iTunes) did not pan out well for me or the narrator/producer while they had distribution rights to the files. It turned out the distributors zeroed out the prices on the novels and used them as loss-leaders, which left us with royalties of around $20.00 a month. We made the decision to recover the rights to the files and will market them ourselves.

I’ve been shopping around for much of this year for an E-Commerce platform that could handle the gigabyte+ size files and finally located one today. Those audiobooks should be available for sale some time in the next month.

My fifth novel in the Terry Rankin series, “Standing Wave” will see me in Suwannee, Florida, some time in September for a final round of interviews, along with a day or two on the water locating scenes and background descriptions (and some fishing, yes). If I can get all of these marketing headaches behind me, “Standing Wave” should be published by the end of this year.

Writing well, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing; downright admirable in fact, and it is the hallmark of every well-rounded person. But if you want to make a living as a writer, you have to compete in the marketplace, and you have to want to win the battle for the bucks.

Don’t ever quit on yourself.

About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. Those words were written a few years ago. Frankly speaking, the literary well has dried up. I now live in Dunnellon, Fl, where I amworking as the caretaker on a horse farm and looking to build a workshop here on the property where I can get back to building furniture. With any luck I will be sinking piers some time early in November and hope to have the floor joists ready for flooring by the end of the month. I'll get back to you on that.
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