I think part of the problem with fixing the website is the fact it didn’t come first.
In Just a reminder, I mention you need a place to send readers who are interested in your work.
I didn’t have one.
I published my first story before I had any place to send my readers. I didn’t even decide on my pen name until the last minute.
I published in September of 2013. I built my first page (Facebook) in December of that year. Yup. Three months difference. Both the original Cursed Items and Random Poems of Cat Hartliebe were published before I had any page of my own.
So I did not have any promotion before hitting publish. I didn’t know about preorders (personally I hate preordering books). I didn’t even know how to build a cover.
I had to learn everything. My decades of experience writing were helpful to get a good story out.
But I failed at marketing.
This site was not created- and it was created specifically for Cat Hartliebe’s work- until January of 2016. That was when I accepted the fact I needed a website or blog to really send readers to.
Imagine what my situation would have been like if I made the website six months before I hit publish the first time?
That’s what I’d suggest a new author to do. Six months before you hit publish, have a blog or website ready. It can be a free site. That’s fine. But you need a place to market from. A place where readers can interact with you and find out about your books. So they can figure out the whys and how the stories interconnect.
I went into this blind. I wasn’t really serious. Don’t do that. Don’t be a fool like me.
I didn’t even have my email yet for Cat Hartliebe. Everything was still tagged to my old accounts. That’s why Smashwords is https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/catgil85. Catgil85 relates to my given name. Catherine Gillette. And I was born in 1985. The original email I used for Smashwords was one I made when I was a teenager. A lot has changed since then.
I published Cursed Items without a cover. That’s allowed on Smashwords, although it’s only allowed for the Smashwords site itself. A book without a cover won’t be sent to the various sites it hooks to.
So I made a cover. My first cover sucked. Think terrible cover. That’s about where it was.
But I wanted to have a cover- any cover. It was a cover. It was accepted as a cover.
I hated it. After a bit of time, I forced myself to figure out covers.
That’s when I found Pixabay.com and I checked out more options and sites. I could do this.
I’m not a complete idiot or fool. I had some computer skills and graphic design experience. I downloaded GIMP and went with it. None of the covers are insanely amazing. I’ll never say that. I’m going for “It’s not terrible”.
It feels as if I’ve done everything wrong when to comes to being an author and marketing myself.
It’s more than lacking support- although if I had real support I wouldn’t’ve made these mistakes to begin with- it’s me jumping when I should’ve tip-toed.
Now, I’m rebuilding my website so that it makes more sense. So that when someone shows up they can find things and figure it all out easily.
I’m not going crazy. I’m not going to download a hundred different pictures to make this more inviting. That feels like a lie anyway.
What’s inviting about any of my work?
I would never call my work inviting.
Either way something needs to change. I need to be more forward with my work. I need to make it easy to find. I need to get my tags and categories and SEOs working for me.
I’m not a failure as an author or writer or even blogger.
I can’t market well enough.
And that’s the last thing I should be failing at if I want this to make me any form of profit. Just because I’ve had hundreds of my books in random people’s hands doesn’t mean I am succeeding.
I need to sell hundreds every year. I need to be selling hundreds every month. And I just kept putting off marketing.
When, in reality? Marketing comes first. Writing comes last. Who knew that was the correct order for an author?
It just sounds screwed up.
No matter how good I write a story, it means nothing unless I can get it to the audience.
I should’ve pushed for traditional. It would have been hard. It would’ve been time consuming. But I wouldn’t’ve been a complete fool when it comes to marketing. I’d have someone in my corner really helping me.
Will I ever make it? Will I ever be successful? Will I be a name everyone knows? Or at least a name a lot of people know?
I’ll call myself lucky if I sell a hundred books this year. Because I’m no where near that. ((Update: I am about 10 books away from a hundred “sold” this year.))
My life is depressing in all circumstances. It makes me tired and want to just give up. Yet I have nothing else. None of my skills and abilities have granted me any form of safety net or protection.
I exist on a precarious line. I can’t live. Supposedly, I’m not allowed to die. And I can’t help anyone.
And it makes me feel very worthless.
Author is all I got left. Until I finish this parenting thing, it’s all I can handle. That’s it. And all I do here is fail. I’m exhausted.
But I’ll try my best. To do something. Success is just over the next hill, right?
I decided to take this screen shot and post it for my own accountability. To remind myself I’m not failing miserably. It’s just… I don’t know.
What number will I reach next year? Will I have an even redder map? Did those visitors like visiting? Did I make them feel happier? Safer? More accepted?
I know nothing. So few comment. I should count up how many books I sold this year. To prove to myself I’m not a complete failure.
How many people have acquired my books this year? I know it’s not that small of a number. But it’s also not in the thousands. I only wish it was.
I can’t just call myself a failure and give up. That’s not how this works. Five years of pushing. Five years of trying. That’s the author way.
Writing is never an overnight success. Never.