Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Contemplating a change

When I was writing articles for Demand Media, there were some other writers out there who did not feel I should have been doing so. They thought I was wasting my time (and writing) on such a low-paying gig. But I loved the work and I loved the discovery each article brought. It was also nice that I made good money from it in the end. But the big thing that kept me going? People were READING my articles. True, it was mostly family and friends, but people were READING them. They were responding to them. And I was so encouraged that I wanted to write more of those articles. (Alas, was not to be!)

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my books. I have noticed a lack of sales with all of my books lately. All of them. Some books have not sold very well for a long time, but I wanted to keep the book "out there" because there was the occasional sale every once in a blue moon. Lately, though, that has not been true for any of them, even the new titles that just came out in print.

And it got frustrating how I'd have to say "I actually wrote about that in {book title} so you can read more about what I have to say on this in that book" time after time after time. People wanted to know about why certain things happened, why I made certain choices and why certain things came about, and it was ALL there for the reading in a particular book I wrote or co-wrote. (Sometimes it'll even be in a particular blog post I have written that nobody read or the person wanting the answers to something did not read.)

At first, I didn't really let this bother me. I had a whole "I am doing this for ME!" attitude about it. It didn't matter if the books didn't sell. I wanted to get them OUT THERE.

But lately, I see 0 sales and start to ask myself, Why even bother anymore? It does not make any sense to me to keep writing books that people are not interested in buying, let alone reading. I mean, sure, it's fun to write books, but do I even NEED to try to get them published anymore? If people are not buying my books, why continue with it? It does not make sense to me at all to keep up with it.

Of course I will continue to write. That stuff is hard to turn off! I love writing books and it's always interesting what new things I will learn or how a story will take me on an adventure or some other. But they will not be sent out anywhere.

I will honor my current contracts and obligations to publishers, as well as those I am currently interviewing for the health book, but I don't think I'll be sending out other books for publication.
As far as the other books I plan to write are concerned, I'm not really seeing a whole lot more of them being submitted anywhere. If people are not buying the books, reading the books or even leaving a comment about a book on a web site, then I really don't see much point in continuing to try to get them published anymore. Perhaps it is better to just leave them in a desk drawer to collect dust.

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  • At 2:13 PM , Blogger Lillie Ammann said...

    I definitely understand your feelings. I have not written nearly as many books as you, but the ones I have published have very low sales as well.

    I don't know how much consideration you have given to this. But if you made this decision in a moment of discouragement, I hope you will give it more thought. If one person reads one of your books and it makes an impact on him or her, it will be worth it. And you never know which book will suddenly appeal to readers and sell better than all your others combined.

    Maybe you just haven't found the right readership for the things you write about. And even if sales are low, you are leaving a valuable legacy with your books. Some books that are considered great classics now weren't very popular during the author's lifetime.

    You should do whatever is right for you. If you decide to quit publishing, I respect your decision. However, be sure you have given the idea plenty of thought and that it really is best.

  • At 7:59 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thank you for the comment, Lillie. I appreciate it. I have actually been giving this a lot of thought. Yesterday, I was reading c. Hope Clark's editorial from last week, and of writers who have little or no sales of their books, she said that they either quit or they change. I am heavily leaning toward the "change" part of her answer. At first, I thought it was okay to ignore the rule of how authors should not write in multiple genres. The variety of my books reflected the variety of my personality. I am not a "one size fits all" kind of person, and I wanted my writing in different genres to reflect this. However, I am beginning to wonder if I should concentrate my energies on just ONE genre and ONE type of book, in order to build up a stronger platform in that area. It's something to think about, at least. I am thinking of giving that a go and see if it will help sales.

    I have been doing all the things everybody else says authors should be doing: Making sure my books are available in different kinds of formats (except one of them, but that's only because the publisher charges for books to be converted to an ebook and I refuse to pay for that); putting myself out there on social media; networking; blogging, and creating promotional materials that I hand out locally. Sometimes this worked and there WERE sales, but recently, not so much.

    You know, it's possible I have just hit a plateau in sales. Maybe they will pick up again later. But I was disappointed that, after I did the blog tour for Shadow of Samhain, there were no sales of the book. After it came out in print, there were no sales of the book. After my deaf parenting book came out and it got talked up on Twitter, as well as in an ezine for the deaf, there were no sales of the book -- especially after that, too, came out in print. Zero. I was also frustrated when people I knew said they would buy a certain book then turn around and not buy it at all. This was especially discouraging for the breast cancer ebook; when I did the promotional campaign for it twice last year, people said they'd buy it then they never bought it. It was embarrassing to turn in such a low check to the charity the sales of that ebook supports.

    When a new book comes out, I always hope that THIS will be the one that sells. This book will be the one everybody wants to read or which will have impressive sales numbers. Then I learn of no sales for the book and I am discouraged. This has happened a few times, actually.

    I know that one of my nonfiction books may help someone or have a positive impact on someone's life -- that is a nice thought -- but the truth is that my nonfiction books are not selling and if they're not selling, if there is no demand for them, then I really don't see much point in putting more of them out there. I WILL continue to write them -- I have been researching the praying book for too long to give up on it now -- but as far as getting them published, I don't know. I have decided that if there is at least ONE sale of the health book after it comes out, then I will continue with the other nonfiction books.

    As to the poetry books and the children's books that I self-publish, I have decided to do those books every once in a while as of 2015. I will finish this year with my current obligations, but things will definitely change in 2015.

    And as for fiction? I don't see many more novels. I do have one I'm sending to my publisher soon, and another that I'd love to see come out in the near future because it's kind of important to me and it was inspired by a Laura Branigan song, but as far as the others go, I guess it will depend on how well those two do. If they sell, then I'll probably send out the others. But if not, then I'll do something else with those stories.

    It's a nice thought that my books just might end up selling really well after I am dead, but I'd really like to see that happen while I'm still alive.

  • At 1:00 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    I have made a decision -- and this one pretty much strikes out that other decision. Regardless of whether books sell, as long as a publisher accepts my books and will publish them, I will keep sending them out. I just won't be working on them as fast as before or as often as before. I no longer care about book sales. And it really doesn't bother me that I am not a bestselling author, or even a famous author. For me, being an author is good enough.


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