I’ve stared at this sentence on and off for weeks, contemplating which version to choose. Alliteration, no alliteration, double alliteration? This is only the rough draft, I tell myself. There’s a good chance your editor is going to red-line it anyway. And so I move on, checking the spreadsheet I created a week ago. What was the other name for a hobgoblin I was going to use? Oh, yes. House Brownie.
It’s said that 80% of people in the world say they have a book inside them that they one day want to write. Only 25% of those people will follow through with writing it. Fewer will finish it, and even fewer still will go on to have it published, whether through more Traditional routes, or through the new-world of self and indie publishing.
My name is Cassandra, and I am one of the cursed few.
Of course, I use the term cursed lightly. There may be hobgoblins, pixies, and dragons in my current Work In Progress (abbreviated WIP in the writing world), but that does not exist here. At least, not in the same way. I come from a long line of writers. My grandmother used to write for women’s literary magazines to bring in extra income. The wage of a farmer and pastor isn’t much, and less so during the 1950’s-1970’s. My aunt was a journalist, and my father had a piece published in a magazine when was still in high school. I even discovered a great-uncle I had never met until a few years ago was a published author. Writing is truly in my German-English-Belgian blood, though I’m not sure which one to blame, and which has carried with it this wordsmithing gene.
I decided almost a decade ago that I wanted to self-publish. My poor little Pisces heart just couldn’t handle the rejection, I suppose. But it was more than that. I wanted to do things my way, in my own time, control my own destiny – much like the characters in my novels. In 2015, I founded White Whisker Publications, my own imprint. My very own publishing house.
With that simple push of the enter key on the Ohio Business Gateway’s website, came with it, of course, the responsibility of being a business own. With great power comes great responsibility. And taxes. The more I lived in this world – this world of both creative writing and business marketing and responsibility – the more I realized how little so many of my fellow writers knew. And how little I knew.
In October, 2018, Publisher’s Weekly calculated there were 752,000~ self-published books on Amazon in 2017. That number would have been unheard of 10 years ago, and I’m sure has increased by at least 50% or more since then. Amazon may have been one of the first on the scene to offer Print on Demand (PoD) services for authors, but there are more options now available. Draft 2 Digital is getting in on the action, and Ingram Spark has been a long-standing option to authors who don’t want to give their dollars to “the Zon” and Bezos. Others still have decided to “double-dip,” as it were, opting to make their books available on Amazon as well as through other retailers.
That decision was easy for me after a year or so of experimentation. The on-going struggle is one of visibility within that world of 752,000+ authors. All who have a right to be given a chance, to be heard, read, and supported.
Any author in the indie and self-publishing world will tell you that writing the story is the easy part. It’s what comes after that makes grown adults cry and the fiercest of personalities cower in the shadows.
Do you have an email list? How often are you sending out a touch to your recipients? What’s your open rate? Your click through rate?
Do you have a launch team? Do you have a launch plan? Are you incorporating giveaways? If so, are your giveaways relevant to your audience?
Are you running ads? Facebook? AMS? Instagram? What’s your Cost Per Click? Are you using Pexels?
What events are you attending? What’s the gate and attendance? Did you see at least a 2% sales rate based on the gate? Did you remember to do a Facebook live when you first got to the event? Are you running location targeted ads so those in attendance at the event receive notifications that you are there while scrolling through their phones?
I’ve met authors in this industry who are making 6-7 figures a year, and ones who like to change it up by adding canned sardines to their ramen noodles once a week. And neither one is doing a single thing wrong or right. This industry is about staying on top of trends, ensuring that you aren’t lagging behind, while always working on your next book. It’s an industry that can boost your visibility, your credibility, and yet make you feel like an imposter at the same time.
It’s why I have made it part of my platform, my personal mission in life, to help as many new writers as I can. There is no one right or wrong way to go about doing this, since everyone’s definition of success varies. But there is bad and outdated information out there, and thanks to technological advances, good information as well as the bad, is a key-stroke away. When you don’t know what you don’t know, how do you differentiate?
My next event is several months away. Enough time for me to get a few chapters under my belt at least – in between the marketing, the community service, the animal fostering, and helping my husband run his business. I’ll soon enough be sitting on panels with my friends, talking about what to put in the first few paragraphs of your story, and how the Beatles can teach us how NOT to write a story. People whom I once found intimidating I can now wrap myself in a giant hug with and admire the Spongebob characters painted on their nails.
Because behind the alliteration, the obsession of hitting the Save icon, and moments of deleting entire chapters from my WIP, is a desire to give back, and help those 80% see through their desire to tell their story and see their name in print.
Even if they haven’t started a mailing list yet.
Cassandra Morgan is the owner of White Whisker Publications. She is the author of the Kingdoms of Chartile series, the Silver Fox Mysteries series (under pseudonym C.P. Morgan), and the short story piece The Witch of Eisenwald Forest in the Dreams of Darkness anthology published by Dragon Storm Press. She frequently attends conferences and conventions, teaching those in attendance about Writing, Publishing, and Marketing. She’s had the pleasure to work with Mary Robinette Kowal (President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Hugo and Nebula award winner), Amal El-Mohtar (Hugo and Nebula Award Winner), Mary Ann Mohanraj (Amazon Best Seller, Hugo Award Nominee), and Jim Hines (Writers of the Future and Hugo award winner). She was told by Claire’s Day that her books were not up to par to participate because she is self-published without the books being evaluated.
When she’s not writing, Cassandra can be found enjoying coffee, and fostering orphan bottle-baby kittens for the many rescues found in Northwest Ohio area. She wants to learn some kind of fiber-art someday, and dreams of visiting Ireland.
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