So, we had a little snow in the Northeast. The South getting hit with winter (here’s looking at you, San Antonio) is big news. Pennyslvania? Eh, we’re over it before the snow even accumulates. Listen, I can handle a pretty dusting every now and then, but I’m in a particular part of PA that has a brief autumn and six solid months of winter. I put the heat on in May. I spend most of January browsing real estate listings in Costa Rica. I can only tolerate so much.
So last week, my debut novel Grunge Gods and Graveyards had a Bookbub ad. A surprise my publisher sprung on me at the last minute. If you don’t know what Bookbub is, it’s a daily email newsletter with a list of top ebooks on sale that is tailored to readers’ genre interests. To get an ad is a big deal. It means a lot of visibility and a huge spike in sales. And getting an ad means sales on subsequent titles, which happened for GG&G’s novella mystery. I even saw a boost in sales for an entirely different mystery series.
Writers pour their hearts out into their work. They bleed for their art, and there are two awful things that can happen. People read the work and hate it, or people don’t read the work at all. Art is meant to be shared, discovered, and loved. It’s a passion for those who create it, but it also stirs up passion in those treasure it. As a writer, the worst is seeing lackluster sales on my titles. I am not a Big 5 author with a massive following (not yet, anyway), and so visibility is hard to come by. To see your Amazon ranking plummeting to oblivion, your reviews drying up, your sales tanking is disheartening. The work that goes into one book is monumental — not just the emotional turmoil (I’m the worst writer in the world. Everything I pen is crap), but the actual amount of time it consumes.
I wrote that debut novel when I was pregnant with my second child, although I had been fussing the story for years before that. Then I spent a full six months revising the story through Holly Lisle’s self-directed How To Revise Your Novel course. After my oldest son went to bed, I would go upstairs and work on fixing the book. No TV time with my spouse, no pleasure reading of my own, no laundry or household chores that needed to get done — I would just work. Figuring out whether I stayed true to the theme. Understanding my characters’ arcs. Fleshing out the setting. It was the most condensed writing education I had ever received. And it took up a lot of time. Grunge Gods didn’t get published until my third child was born many years later.
This BookBub ad will help my novel gain new readers. The reviews will come in, some people will hate it, a lot will love it, but at least people are reading it. That’s all I can ever ask.
Winter is a tough season for me. Snow often means no school and being stuck in doors. But I do my best work in the winter. When TV is on hiatus and you’ve seen every Netflix show there is to see, you lose the procrastination bug and you get to work. I love creating stories, but I don’t write just for myself. And I miss that reader feedback and interaction. I miss the connection.
And with that, my PSA: please review an author’s work on Goodreads and Amazon or wherever you buy books. Your reviews help other readers find the work, and it boosts an author’s visibility in a very crowded environment. If you love a book, tell people. If a piece of work connected with you, tell the author directly via Twitter or Facebook or email. We write because we have to, even when it’s dreadfully hard, but it’s worth it if we know it’s making an impact, no matter how small.