Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Yesterday, something happened that threw me into a very deep depression last night. I know they say you need to hit rock bottom before you can get to the top. Maybe this was not literally "rock bottom" but it sure was a huge wake-up call. Something like getting knocked upside the head with a Reality Paddle. So, what happened, exactly?

I got my royalty statement for the Tips book.

Why is this so terrible? Because on that statement, it showed that not one copy of that book has sold since December. Not one. In all of these seven months of the year so far, nobody, NOBODY, has bought one copy of that book. At all.

The news was really hard for me to bear. I got upset over it at first. When I told my husband, he commented, "Well, if you quit writing now, it's not like anybody is going to notice."

"I know," I sadly agreed.

But I'm not going to quit writing. I CAN'T! It's like I told my daughter: Writing is in my blood. By that, I don't mean my ancestors were all writers. (Maybe some of them were.) But by that, I mean that writing comes as naturally to me as breathing. It is something I CANNOT just turn off. Writing is a very big part of me and a part of my life. It's like I was "born to write," so to speak.

Still, the fact that my books are not selling at all this year (and yes, I mean "books" plural) still hangs over me and pulls me down. I have only sold one copy of all of my books this year so far and that's it. As far as I know, anyway.

Sometimes, it feels like I'm fighting against some invisible force that does not want me to succeed as a writer. I have not been able to get into the glossies. The one literary agent I did have was not a very good agent. Rejections kept coming in. I kept being turned away by the major publishing houses. Told "no" by a lot of people. Forgotten about by a lot of other people. My newsletter has less than 100 subscribers. When I was publishing an E-zine, I got submissions from the regular writers who contributed to it and barely anything from A LOT of other writers. No one sent in any tips to share, either. People were ignoring my emails. And some people who did answer emails from me said things like:

"Who are you?"

"I don't know who you are. I've never heard of you before."

"I can't find this so-called book of yours anywhere on the Internet."

"I've never heard of your publisher."

"I think you're some kind of poser or fake."

And my books are not selling!

It was enough to just drive me to tears last night.

But I didn't cry at first. First I got upset about it. Then I tried to be proactive about it.

For some time, I've had an idea for an article to write, but just haven't gotten around to putting together an outline for it or do research for it. It's basically about how to sell a seasonal book all year. Things you can do to make something like a Christmas book appeal to buyers in April, you know? And I always thought the Tips book was seasonal. I mean, I put the muscle into promoting the book every fall and winter. Not much else.

So maybe I can try out what I do to promote this book all year as what ideas and suggestions to put into my article. Let my book be the guinea pig! (The article might have greater appeal if I have that kind of success story to go with it.)

But maybe my book isn't "seasonal." Just because it has 365 writing tips for every day of the year. Maybe I can find a way to KEEP promoting it day after day, month after month. That might change things. Heck, somebody might even buy it in March or June! And find it useful, too.

I can try that. And use books on book promotion to help that, too. (I just bought a copy of Patricia Fry's book, Over 75 Good Ideas For Promoting Your Book.)

The bottom line is, I was trying to tell myself that my book is not a bad book. I've heard comments from people who have bought it telling me how much they liked it, how it helped them and inspired them. And Carolyn Howard-Johnson called this book "the I Ching for writers." That's a really big compliment. So, it's not like this book just...sucks.

I used all of that internal pep talk to try to cheer myself up. And true to my resolve NOT to quit writing, I worked my tail off on the RGT book yesterday. And I made plans to work on it today and get the ball rolling with Phase Two of getting this book together to send off. I have a deadline, after all! I will honor that deadline.

But by day's end...after the kids were asleep and I was puttering about the house and tidying up....I was sad all over again. Not sad. Depressed. Angst-ridden. Despondent. I was going around in the kitchen, crying as I clattered the dishes and pans together. Crying and cleaning at the same time! I didn't care if my neighbors saw me crying like that. I was just so sad.

And later, as I sat on the couch staring at that royalty statement and seeing those figures, I just kept crying about it. I just stared at it and felt like everything I have done for all these years in trying to be a successful author has gone down the tubes. Like I wasted all that time. I felt like I was a waste of print. That I wasted every editor's time. Every other writer's time. Like everything I ever write should never again be read. By anyone.

Yes, I was THAT depressed. I was just...in a dark pit. Feeling sorry for myself and everything.

But I'm glad that it got as bad as it did. I'm glad I had that good cry and got through my "pity me party." You know why?

Because now I am able to get back up again and keep going. Now I have a newfound sense of determination to achieve my goals and make my dreams come true. I had that low point. I had that smack of reality. Now it is time to get back on that horse and keep moving forward. I will survive. I will keep going. I will persevere and NEVER give up. It's time to pick myself up by my bootstraps and keep on keeping on.

I just can't stop writing. I love to write. And I love writing books. That is the heart of everything that I do as a writer. I do this for the love of it. Not for the money. Not for the fame. Not to sell a bazillion copies of my book every year.

Because it's what I love to do. And I have to keep that in mind no matter what my royalty statements say. True, I do indeed need to take from this a newfound dedication to promoting my books for all part of the year. True this means I need to pay more attention to getting the word out that these books exist. And make sure ALL of them are available everywhere and in every way to everybody. But the point is, I write books because I love to write books. This is my passion. This is what I do. And I need to stay true to what it is that I want to do in life.

No matter what happens and what people say, I will keep writing and keep getting books out there. Even if I don't have anyone standing behind me or offering support, I will have to give myself my own support. I'll have to be my own cheerleading team.

Maybe it's "just a dream" but all dreams are worth fighting for. All dreams are worth putting in the effort to make them come true. Maybe this dreamer isn't exactly a very popular one, but this dreamer isn't going to give up and let her dreams die.

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  • At 7:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey Dawn sorry to hear this! ((hugs))
    Its just marketing. This is all thats wrong. If you cant market to the masses, your book goes to sleep. Thats why people get publishers because of their marketing departments!!!
    But the good thing about a sleeping book is it can always be woken up.

    I would say keep trying NEW ways of marketing your book. Don't do the same old things, try some new stuff.

    Also just move forward with your new books. The Ghost book will put your name out there again and when people look up your name, they will see your old books too. Its just a process, and eventually all books that are just sitting there will be discovered by the general public again.

    I'm dissapointed that your significant other has yet to realize that writing is your passion. Its very hurtful what he said. Does he want you to quit and just....do what? Have no passion for anything? Or maybe he is like my hubby who wishes I would develope a passion for doing laundry or for baking bread....LOL

    Dont worry Dawn, things will pick up soon!!
    More hugs because of hubbys ridiculous comment: (((((((hugs)))))))))))

  • At 4:52 AM , Blogger Lillie Ammann said...


    It's really hard to sell books, especially right now. What I find discouraging is when people tell you they're going to buy a book, then don't. I recently ran a promotion for my romantic mystery novel on my blog. I bought author copies to sell myself, and I had lots of people leave comments they were eager to get the book. But hardly anyone actually bought it. I'd rather they just didn't say anything than to lie about it. I'm still experimenting with ways to promote effectively so I understand your situation.

  • At 5:55 AM , Blogger Patricia said...

    Hi Dawn,

    I hope my "75 Ideas" book gave you some ideas for promoting your books.

    In the meantime, I'd like to consider reviewing your writing-related books for SPAWNews, the newsletter for SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). www.spawn.org.

    Let me know (via email--plfry620@yahoo.com) if you are interested and I'll give you our address for shipping. There's no fee, or anything. We just like to bring books that are useful to authors, freelance writers and artists to our members and subscribers attention.

    Patricia Fry
    Visit my informative blog often: www.matilijapess.com/publishingblog

  • At 10:18 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks, Nancy. Hugs back! When he made that comment, I was too emotional and broken up to see it as an insult or hurtful comment. It bothers me that he is not so supportive of my writing career. The minute I become a successful author selling thousands of books, you can bet I'm going to rub that in his face! He should be supporting my dream instead of stomping on it.

    I have been working on the Ghost book like crazy. Just working on it and working on it. It's really hard to find the time with the baby climbing over the baby gate and everything, but I am going to keep at it! I'm not giving up and will never quit.

    I never thought about it like that, the book "sleeping." I hope I can find new ways to wake it up, as you say.

    Lillie: Thank you. Yes, that is so true. It is VERY hard to sell books. Especially with the economy being the way it is. I have heard about that kind of thing happening, though. With people promising to buy books but they never do. I have also heard of so-called "reviewers" promising to review abook but never do. (I have had this happen to me as an author as well as a reviewer but, on the reviewing end, it was out of my hands.) I'm sorry to hear this happened with you. I hope there will be some people who will buy your book. Please keep us all updated on the new things you do for promotion and marketing. I would love to hear it! :) Good luck with that.

    Patricia: Oh, thank you sooo much! That is awesome of you for offering to review my book! :) I will definitely get a copy to you real soon. Your book is definitely helpful. I was reading through it and a lot of times I thought, 'Wow, that's a great idea!' or 'I never thought of that!' I'm glad you wrote this very helpful book.

  • At 3:39 PM , Blogger Bee-Loved said...

    Hi Dawn, so much heartfelt writing in there. It struck me that you can write so well from the heart.

    Maybe your experiences can be shared IN A BOOK. So many writers and creative people despair of ever having something sold. Write because you love it. What other people think of you...is none of your business.

    How do I get your books? You and your writing matters, to me and yourself, and countless others.

    If you want a reading or other Business stuff for getting some marketing and passion going, contact me.

    As for your Ghost book you and I know that there is indisputable evidence. Chase it, create it and go for everything you dream. Love to you.
    www.stillinheaven.wordpress.com, www.businessbutterfly.com.au

  • At 5:34 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Hi, Katera! Thank you. :) You know, I really don't know if my experiences in struggling to achieve success as an author is worth a whole book. Maybe as part of a book. It's something to think about. :)

    Thank you SO MUCH for all of your wisdom and support. It means a whole lot to me.

    You can order my book directly from the publisher here: http://filbertpublishing.com/365.html It is also available through Amazon and special order at bookstores. If you buy the book, I hope you enjoy it! And please do let me know what you think of it.

    I will definitely keep you and your services in mind for marketing assistance. Your site looks awesome!

    And, yes, that evidence of hauntings and ghostly presence is definitely there. I have experienced it personally, but books like the one I'm doing will all the more stand as proof they exist.

    Thank you again for everything! You rock!! xoxo


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