I needed another social media page like I need a hole in the head, but I was curious about all the fuss so I joined TikTok. I’ve only posted maybe four videos and they are nothing to brag about and there is a very strong possibility I won’t do much more than that. However, I got to say, if you are discriminate about what you follow and watch on TikTok there are some true jewels among the trash. But that’s a subject for another blog because this one is all about the tears of a writer.
What does that have anything to do with TikTok, you ask? Well, it all started when I was browsing through the very funny and sometimes compelling videos of teachers, comedians and yes, writers. A post by a writer I “know” from a local association really hit the spot; it brought tears to my eyes and a familiar sadness and frustration to my heart.
This author writes rom com/women’s fiction and she had had a new release that day. Like all of us who write to publish–be that Indie or traditionally published–a new release is always a big deal. This is the day that normally sells the most and that signals the success of the book or lack thereof. That’s why most of us make a big deal about it and work like crazed people to have an awesome release. However, the reality for some of us is that no matter how much work and money we invest on our books, release day is often a crushing disappointment.
She had published her 17th or 18th book (can’t recall which) and like any other author she checked her sales and KU page reads throughout the whole day, bright eyed and hopeful that this would be The Book. You know, the one that will validate all the years of working your butt off and spending a ton of money. The one that will prove you were not crazy to think of yourself as a marketable author.
But then it happened! Only one book sold and a little over one hundred pages were read. She was crushed and posted a heartfelt video about it on TikTok. It resonated with me because this has been my norm. Since May I have published two books. The first one sold maybe seven books within the first week of release and received two or three reviews. The second sold even less and got zero reviews. I don’t claim to be the best writer in the world but I tell a good story. Most people who actually read my books enjoy them. They all have great covers, they are well edited and formatted and yet, very few people pick them up even when they are discounted to close to nothing. I had great hopes for my last book. It has an amazing cover, a beautiful interior, and it tells a magical story of love against evil. The sales were worse than dismal. It’s disheartening and makes me wonder whether I have been a total fool for the past few years as I run home from an exhausting day at school teaching small children, to go sit with my laptop and work for another five or six hours writing, editing, marketing, networking, and losing sleep over it.
What do I have to do to make my work visible? I’ve tried everything I can think of and afford (sometimes even things I shouldn’t have spent money on), I’ve reached out to other writers, I’ve taken classes after classes about marketing… nothing seems to work for me. In fact, even the simple act of asking other writers and bloggers to share my new release posts often fall flat. I have a handful of wonderful people who support me all the way, but not nearly as many as I see supporting others. I know it’s something I’m doing wrong but I don’t know what it is. It makes you feel very alone. It makes you feel stupid and worthless. It makes you want to quit.
But like the author on TikTok I won’t quit because I love writing too much. I have wanted to be a published author since I learned how to write and no heartache is going to make me give up on the dream. However I have been distant, my social media posts have shrunk to just a few and even those I have posted are not my usual quality posts, just something to fill the empty space. I have another new release coming soon and I’ve been half-ignoring it because I can do without more disappointment.
I haven’t really written for the past couple weeks because my brain keeps telling me it’s a futile exercise, a folly. I miss it. I miss the excitement of creating worlds and characters with my imagination, of escaping this world and this reality to one of my own creation. I know I’ll get over it. I always do, but until then I will continue to believe Robert Frost’s words, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader” and hope that one day soon my tears will reach their target and my stories will finally find a home.