Pardon me for a bit of true confessions here, Liz Acolytes, but I think I’m starting to treat this blog opportunity as exactly that. I mean, the whole premise of the thing is not far off a true confessional. I write books. I get published. I sell a few. I learn lessons. I confess mistakes. You benefit from them and get better at it than I am and wave at me on your way up the Famous Ladder.
Well, okay maybe not that last bit but you get me.
That said, today’s confession involves money. Or more specifically money badly spent. Or to clarify even further: money I should never have handed over in exchange for (enter service here) and wish like hell I had back.
Humor me and head over to your “author inbox.” You know, the email you use specifically for your “business of publishing.” I’ll wait.
If your business inbox is anything like mine, it’s chock full of messages from people or entities telling you some version of the following:
They have the secret sauce for success!
They can teach you all you need to know about social media marketing!
Their method will guaran-damn-tee a “best seller status” for your book!
Or, (my personal favorite because it comes from someone who has never published a novel, much less a best-selling novel, or even edited one at least according to her bio) she will critique your novel and help you get it published!
Seriously, these messages come at me constantly and some of them have ensnared me in their magical advertising verbiage. Granted, I am one of those super-ensnarable types who spent years disentangling herself from a Columbia Record Club “contract.” I am talking actual years. No lie.
Ugh, there I go again with the true confessions.
Anyway, yeah, I’ve been taken by some of these folks. One “program” in particular comes to mind. I did my research. I dutifully emailed the authors listed as references, and they were, naturally, glowing. But his language about going from licking the glue off his food stamps and drinking from the storm drains or whatever to Top Bestselling Author In the World seemed to ring true. Mind you, he was not a fiction author, but I considered myself savvy about this—we fiction authors tend to be less marketing and business minded. This guy was a non-fiction author of books that had stuck at the Amazon top 10 lists for a lot of months (not the fleeting, quick-capture-it-in-a-screen-shot moments we are used to). I even bought a book (on sale, mind you from one of his MANY emails he sent me) and read enough of it to consider him, if a bit braggy, totally legit.
This was a series of “webinars” and “video talks” and it wasn’t too expensive, but I’m not about to admit what I spent. I am too embarrassed to have given him a thin dime. Suffice it to say that 90.9% of these little video snippets were photos of him and his beautiful wife and overly adorable toddler kid cavorting on beaches and in other cool vacation locations with cheesy, Power Point-style graphics popping up every now and then with the words “Best Selling Author!” or other useless crap on them.
I learned, literally, nothing other than his life story and how he got lucky. And the fact that he likes beach vacations.
I sh*t you not, Liz Acolytes. I kept waiting for the golden nugget. The magic list of actual THINGS I could do to help with my book sales. All I got was more of his sad backstory and non-helpful tidbits about how he persisted, stuck with it, didn’t give up. At the tag end of the final video, there was a quick “to-do list.”
I’d already done every damn thing on it, some of them twice.
So, I decided to buckle down and not allow myself to be taken advantage of by these modern-day snake-oil peddlers and began to delete every email I got (Oh! Bonus side lesson learned: this guy sold his list for a bit of vacation cash) from then on that made promises or asked me leading questions like: “Liz, would you like to be at the top of all the bestseller lists?”
“Gee, no thanks. I’ll just keep floundering around here near the bottom of this here barrel because nothing you can say will provide me with the one thing I still need: a stroke of luck.”
Mind you; this is not the only shyster’s spell I fell under. I paid one woman (mentioned above) a half a month’s worth of royalties a few years ago for the honor of a “chat on the phone to advise me.” I got a blog post out of it, and 45-minutes’ worth of her personal sob story. I’m seeing a pattern here but whatever.
I’m not here to tell you what to do. But I am here as your wise, kindly, mistake-prone “pro” who has also paid two different “public relations companies” to basically set up a bunch of blog tours for me—one of which was made up of a butt-load of twitter bots tweeting about me to, essentially, no one. And one of them was as we say, “très expensive.” Okay maybe that’s just what I say but I’m talking several thousands of dollars flushed down the proverbial toilet.
The bottom line here kids: It’s your dough. You earned it. Or your spouse earned it.
Or maybe you have a trust fund but no matter where it came from, you owe it to yourself as a publishing business professional to understand what you are paying for. If you’re just starting out, by all means, check out some of the legit blog tour operators who have legit blogger lists (they exist, and I’m happy to recommend a few if you want to email me [email protected]). If you’re in the smack middle of your career, consider taking some of the Facebook or Google ad webinars operated by them, not by third parties, and learn how a few bucks spent a month can help get your name a little further out there.
And then, please, join me and warm your shaking fingers at my warm fire of hope. We can intone the incantations for our personal stroke of luck together!
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
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