I can think of a staggering number of moments throughout my decade-long journey as a professional writer where I could have just given up: on key projects, on my quest for certain dream gigs, on earning enough money to make a living from all of this, on so many things. Giving up is EASY. It’s also terribly boring.
Maybe it’s my stubbornness, or my drive to succeed despite the odds, but muscling down and sticking with things even when it feels like failure is imminent is a big part of why I’m able to keep writing professionally for a living. This week, and the past six months in general, has been a big reminder of that.
From Stumble to Success?
Last week, I launched my latest (and fifth) book, Write Short Kindle Books: A Self-Publishing Manifesto for Non-Fiction Authors for FREE as part of a carefully calculated launch plan to push it to the top of the charts and try a few new launch strategies I haven’t been able to test out with my prior books. That went well at first, scoring some really positive early reviews, a #1 slot in the free charts in my Amazon category, and about 700 downloads across several days.
But then things went totally wonky.
I borked the FREE to PAID switch in a few frustrating ways — due in part to an accidental flip of a switch on my part and some confusion about what would happen when I did flip said switch — which all but killed my momentum and downloads on the third day of launch. I was dead in the water. So I grabbed a beer and sort of cringed and laughed it off, but rather than packing it in, I decided to press reset and start fresh a day later.
SUPER GLAD I did this.
I could have upped the book to full price to try to recoup some actual income, but I opted to set it at $0.99 for the rest of the month of January and try to rebuild lost momentum and maximize on its placement in the “Hot New Releases” listings on Amazon.
That, in conjunction with a slew of strategies and tactics I rolled out in the days immediately following (strategies I’m still pushing forward with every day through the 30 day launch window), has revived things in a big way. At the end of last week, WSKB became a #1 Bestseller in the Business Writing category and ranked in the top 10 in a few other categories. That was super exciting! Then I dipped slightly in the charts for a few days, which makes sense considering the rankings are adusted hourly based on current sales and other factors.
But last night? I jumped back up to hit #1 in that same category again AND #1 in a larger Authorship category, even coming close to hitting #1 in Writing Skills too. For anyone who’s not as familiar with Amazon’s book seller categories and how competitive they can be, that’s pretty badass!
Here’s the impact it’s had on my sales, which aren’t as EPIC as some authors but are holding steady and growing daily!
Note: I just took this screen grab a moment ago at noontime on 1/20/2015, so that dip at the end is actually still rising today. Right now, it’s about where I was this same time yesterday.
So, that’s a pretty crazy turnaround! I’m not holding my breath, but things are still going strong and everything seems on-track to continue this momentum for the time being. Every sale, every positive review, and every social media share definitely helps. This, of course, is also the first book in a new series, so I’m particularly excited to see how things pan out as I launch the next few installments and start cross promoting them.
Had I given up and let the book’s launch run its course after my big slip-up without taking immediate efforts to turn the ship around, it’d likely be a very different story and this would be a far gloomier blog post.
Freelancing + Creative Ups and Downs
My freelance groove has been in a similar state of wonkiness the past 6 months, due largely in part to a major shift in the kinds of clients and freelance work I’m taking on (and able to take on). In a nutshell, I made some professional decisions, like creating an indie game studio as a part-time adventure, that closed some gig doors for me. At the same time, a few key writing opportunities dried up unexpectedly and a lot of the other irons I had in the fire weren’t ready to be pulled out yet.
I was hit with a pretty heavy duty blast of depression and anxiety this fall as a result, as I poured a ton of creative energy into our first game project, Go To Bed: Survive The Night, which didn’t pan out like we had hoped sales-wise, even though we realized its likelihood of gaining big traction in the middle of the holiday launch deluge was pretty minimal. Still, I’ve been working to expand and improve on it this winter, and we’ll be launching a big update for the iOS version in the next month or so. The plan is to work on some other game projects while finishing up the full PC release later this year. That’s just the beginning, and we’re muscling on despite early setbacks.
However, it’s been a bumpy few months in other ways too. Around this time, I also launched another book, Coffee Is My Religion: Geek Essays on the Writing Life (Vol. 1), which hasn’t sold a ton of copies but is a project I feel really good about. Still, not a big seller or a real success project-wise.
December was killer because I was able to pick up a few key one-off freelance gigs around the holidays that kept me afloat, but much of that dropped off after the New Year, leaving me scrambling the past few weeks to get more freelance work on my plate while pouring more time into a book launch that I was optimistic but uncertain about.
But I haven’t given up, and if anything, I’m super pumped about what 2015 has in store for me professionally and creatively.
So here I am! Digging into some exciting new freelance opportunities as I rebuild that momentum again. Launching a new book in a new series that’s off to a really great start. Plugging away at some exciting video game projects and new books slated for later this year.
Despite my previous career success in the game journo industry, I’m nowhere near where I want to be yet in my professional world. I’ve hit some big goals, but the bar keeps raising as I plot a new course for my writing and creative world.
This is what it takes to succeed, which is why you’ll never know what happens if you give up prematurely!
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The Kindle self-publishing revolution is here! Are you in?
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