I never believed this whole book thing was going to be easy but it is even more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Even though sales have picked up a bit, it is taking a long time to build a readership. I've done what I can afford to do to let people know my book is available. I have a website.
I paid for flyers and promotional pens and business cards and cute little promotional flashlight keychains (Shauntice has one, so that's why I bought these) and handed them out. I've advertised online (wish I could get the money back from the one's that weren't really worth it) and I've attended two events. I haven't done any book signings, but from what I heard about those I'm not sure how much that really matters; for an unknown author, anyway. I did try to schedule one (yep, I was proud of myself for speaking up), but it didn't happen even after I pointed out to the manager that the local authors section, which had quite a few self-published works, could use a teen novel. It seemed I really had to prove myself to this man. Now, I don't know if that was a "black author" thing or a "self-published author" thing, but I do know that weeks later a white male author was having a signing and I didn't see one person approach his table. When I walked into the bookstore he wasn't faced forward to greet people; his body was turned slightly in the chair with one arm hanging across the back of it and he had a look on his face that asked the question, "Why did I even bother?" I guess he wasn't expected to contact all kinds of people or have lots of people call into the bookstore to say they'd show up like I was asked to do. I would have done what I could if a signing had been scheduled; advertised some kind of way - on my website, facebook, whatever. But, anyway, moving on.... The things I have done to get my book attention has helped, but not nearly as much as I expected.
Let me tell you, book events aren't easy for me. I mean, I have to actually put myself out there in front of people. I've never been good at that; I've always been a behind-the-scenes kinda person. It seems some people expect writers to also be good public speakers. If I believe in my story, and I do, I guess I should be eager to get out there and talk about it. Well, I'm workin' on it but I really believe it's going to take a while. I write. That's it. That's what I do. I have always been able to express myself better with the written word and that's why I wrote a novel instead of deciding on speaking engagements to talk to young people. I'm starting to believe, though, that I need to be more 'hands on', but, like I said before, I'm working on it.
In the meantime, thank God for blogs! And because you're taking the time to read this, I thank God so very much for you. What I really wanted to say today is that even though the decision to publish my novel has left me feeling discouraged at times - and I mean discouraged to the point of not wanting to finish the second book or write the third - there have been good days; especially when I receive emails like these:
April 13, 2010
Hello this is Eriyana,
A couple of weeks ago you blessed me with your book at the hair salon. I am keeping my word and emailing you about my thoughts. Your book was excellent. I enjoyed every minute of it. The different characters were perfect examples of real life things that occur. My friends saw me reading the book, and there is now a little list of people who want to read it. Thank you for being a blessing, and i am positive your book will have a positive effect on teenagers everywhere. I look forward to your future books.
April 18, 2010
I have read your book and I must say that I enjoyed it. My friend Eriyana, shared her copy of the book with me and I am glad she did because that was the best book I have ever read. I Love the way you write about real life situations and I can relate to the characters in your book. Do you know when you will make another book? I can’t wait if you do. Once again I enjoyed your book.
I wrote Choices because I was hoping to make a difference in the lives of young people; especially teenage girls. I forget the 'purpose' for this book and the ones to follow when I get caught up in the whole 'doing my best to sell books' thing, but these emails reminded me at a time when I really needed to be reminded. Thanks so much, Eriyana and Caila, for taking the time to write.