Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The dictionary defines zest (in addition to the outermost part of orange and lemon ring) as ‘keen, hearty pleasure’ or ‘excitement and enjoyment.’
By rights, I should be feeling extremely ‘zestful;’ right now. My new novel, ‘Changing the Future’ comes out next week, and my first published excerpt earlier this week (on Six Sentence Sunday) got some ‘rave’comments.

So why I am feeling decidedly ‘un’-zestful?

Is it because by the time you get to the publication of your third novel (or seventh, if I count my novels in the 60’s and 70’s) the excitement has worn off? No, not really, because you can still be thrilled at having a new book published, however many have gone before. In this case, it’s a story with which I struggled long and hard. I wrote the original story many years ago and it was the first one I ‘resurrected’ about four years ago when I decided to try my hand at romance novels again. Since then, it’s gone through several re-writes, not least the transfer of the story setting from the original UK setting to America and then back to the UK again, before I was happy with it! So I’m well pleased that I finally got it to publishable standard.

Having said that, by the time you are having your third novel published, your family and 'real-life' friends simply take it for granted. No longer an enthusiastic ‘Wow, that’s fantastic’; instead, a somewhat muted ‘Oh, another novel. Well done.’ So there won’t be any of the ‘whoop-de-whoop’ which greeted my first novel last year. Release day will probably mean nothing to anyone except myself and some of my online friends.

Are you starting to understand my reason for lack of zest?

Then there’s the promotion aspect. I have worked hard during the last couple of years to network and establish an online ‘presence’. I’ve spent hours (hundreds of hours!) on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and in the yahoo loops, networking and getting to know/supporting other people in addition to promoting myself. I’ve lost count of how many guest posts and interviews I’ve done on other people’s blogs over the last two years. I appreciate the opportunity to do this, of course, and I’ve made a lot of very good online friends as a result.

But how many people buy my books because of my blogs, etc? Maybe a dozen or so, if I’m lucky! A couple of months ago, I wrote a post on my blog about an author who has 3 books on Amazon (published between April 2011 and Jan 2012. She says she doesn’t spend much time on promotion, apart from writing a few blogs or guest blogs. However, in the first half of March, she sold 8686 books! If I could sell half that number in half a month, I’d be ecstatic!

With another book coming out, I have to jump on the merry-go-round again and start another round of promotion, while asking myself whether it really has any effect on book sales. And we won’t even mention the even harder job of getting reviews on Amazon or Goodreads!

I guess I’ll just have to zap up my zest level and zoom into the promo zone!


  1. I've read that the best way to sell books is to have many published. A reader buys one and then goes on to buy all.
    You'll reach critical mass soon, Paula.

  2. I can totally relate, Paula. Especially about friends thinking, same old same old. (I guess it's like having your third the time it comes around, it's not such a new thing anymore!)

    Figuring out promo is tricky, too, it seems we spend a lot of time on it for very little return.

    I agree with Ana, the more books you have out, the more there are for people to buy. If they buy one and like it, hopefully they'll go back for the others!

    Congrats on your latest release. You'll definitely make a sale to me!

  3. Ana, I suspect that it takes a lot more than 3 books to get to that stage!

    Debra - glad you understand about reactions to your '3rd baby'! Agree with you about promo - it's so time-consuming! And thanks for buying my book - hope you'll enjoy it!

  4. In case your wondering, I do think promotion makes a difference--I didn't have time to do as much with Skin Deep, and my sales reflect that. I'm trying to make up for it, but it's hard after the fact. Good luck and congratulations again!!! (I added a few extra exclamation marks for zest)

  5. That's interesting, Jen - because I've found the opposite. I did MORE promo/blog visits etc for 'Fragrance of Violets' but 'His Leading Lady' has still sold better. I tend to think that it's a 'first book' syndrome which is greeted with more enthusiasm than the second book. Will see what happens with 'Changing the Future'!

  6. You could be right. I'll be interested to see what you find.

  7. I can tell you one example, Jen - one of my (very supportive) friends in America downloaded my first book on the first day it was on Amazon. Recently (as in last week!) she said she hadn't downloaded my second one yet but would do so as soon as she had time to read it! There's the difference!

  8. Yes, except that you can't rely on friends to support your "business." The idea is to get more readers who don't know you and I think that takes a lot of promotion.

  9. I agree, Jennifer - I was just quoting the example about the friend as an illustration of the difference between first and subsequent books.
    One of the main problems in reaching out to a wider audience of readers is - where do you actually find them? My local paper and independent bookstore aren't interested in an 'unknown' writer, so I don't how how else to get local publicity!