Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hey, Top Downers, please welcome Robin Cain to the convertible...and win!

As an author with a new book on the market, I find myself getting quite caught up in the whole “numbers” game. How many copies have I sold? What is my place on Amazon? How many good reviews do I have?

I’m guessing it’s a quite normal response, but the entire process is proving to be quite counterproductive to what I enjoy doing, which is writing. By nature, authors are writers, not marketing gurus. But with some 4,000,000 other books being published in any given year, we are forced to shout, push and grapple for space on a reader’s list. These days, unless one is a ‘Grisham’ or a ‘Steel’, book sales often come (in the most simplistic of terms) as a result of how often and how loudly we “Tweet”. Eventually (and hopefully), word-of-mouth works its magic, but usually not until an author has exhausted themselves trying to parlay this form of marketing madness into tangible sales.

It’s an awkward role for any new author to grasp, let alone master, and at times, one can’t help but feel as if they’ve become one big fat infomercial in the process. The quality of one’s work (not to mention all that has been accomplished) seems to matter not in the scheme of things. An artist must dig deep to find harmony.

While in search of inspiration to address this dilemma, I happened upon the following quote. I’d like to share it with fellow artists who, at times, may also find their ‘harmony’ is a little off.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

As artists, we have a talent to share and, for us, it becomes our calling to bring this talent to life. Where our art winds up or who it eventually entertains is something over which we have no control. Our job is simply to let our creations go, to let them flourish and live the lives they were meant to live. We must have faith that those who need to meet them will do so and those who are meant to love them will one day, surely, fall head-over-heels.

One’s ‘numbers’ – these objective, and often disobedient, measurements which all artists allow themselves to get wrapped up in – should NOT be viewed as a reflection of self, but rather a reflection of a market’s willingness to listen.

Our focus as writers is to entertain and enlighten, amuse and engross. How each of us gets to this place – or where we journey from this place – are tiny matters. To attain happiness and achieve the elusive balance, we must focus only that which lies within us. Our talents, our passions, our stories – these are the only things that truly matter.

Artists: What is YOUR greatest challenge with respect to finding and maintaining this ‘harmony’?

Blog Readers: What do you feel is the most effective way authors/artists can entice you to take a look at their work?

If you’d like to be included in the drawing to win a free copy of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED, please leave your thoughts and include your email info. A three-chapter excerpt from the book can be found on my website http://www.robincain.com


lois greiman said...

Thanks for joining us, Robin.

As for me, I have no harmony. I take turns becoming obsessed and distracted. Years ago I was obsessed by the business of writing all the time, but that got too wearing for me, so now I take breaks by becoming crazy about other things, too. :)

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Robin. Congrats on the new release and thanks for riding along with us today.
Great questions - harmony is a tough chord to find, let along hold. I just try not to let it get to me too much. The only thing I really have control over is the book - and even at that, I always feel I have a very loose handle on it.
I'll be interested to hear what readers think about most effective enticements :o)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Robin!

Sister, we writers know whereof you speak. It's the old adage: The good news is, you're published. The bad news is, you're published.

I've been in this game for a long time, and I've run the gamut. The bottom line is, about all you can do is write the book. The rest is up to the publisher and the fickle finger of fate. So write the best book you can, regardless. No matter what happens after that, you've accomplished something most people on dream of doing, and you can be proud of what you've created.

Lists are crazy. I used to watch them obsessively. I had no idea a series book could make the USAT list nowadays. One of writers on my writers' loops posts it weekly, and I scan it, but somehow I missed seeing my name for my Feb book. Imagine, I didn't see me me me. I didn't know that COOL HAND LOOK had hit at #71 until over a month later.

I have no idea what the moral of that story is. What Louis Anderson's father used to say, maybe. "Life. Live it."

Kathleen Eagle said...

That should have been *only* dream and COOL HAND HANK. Blech! Mistakes! These are the things I obsess over.

Robin Cain said...

"The good news is, you're published. The bad news is, you're published." -- so true! It's a battle, regardless of where one is on the path.

And thank you for hosting me here, Lois!

Pamela Keener said...

The most effective way is to send out an honest blurb about the book.
If I like the premise I am hooked and have to read it. Word of mouth has a strong influence for me. The cover and excerpt don't mean too much because if I want to read the book I never read the excerpt because I will have felt as if I read the book before. I hope this makes sense.
Love & Hugs,

Christie Ridgway said...

Robin: Congrats on the book and thanks for joining us today!

Harmony (the kind you're talking about) is elusive, I can tell you that. I think my family has helped me, because my life is not just about the writing...I have other things keeping me awake at night too.

I do try to let go of everything but telling the story I want to read. A struggle!

traveler said...

Congratulations on your new release. I enjoyed this unique post. I always welcome learning about new authors' books. I browse websites, bookstores, libraries and publishers sites. If the author has a blurb that is very helpful and contests are always appealing. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

Robin Cain said...

Thanks everyone! And don't forget to post your emails to enter in the giveaway~

chey said...

Congrats on your new release!
A good blurb and excerpt or word of mouth influence my book choices.

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Linda Henderson said...

Congratulations on your new release. I don't go by reviews on books because everyone has different tastes. I do however watch to see what books are getting a lot of attention and tend to check out books that I see talked about a lot and advertised. I also go to author websites to see what they have coming out.

Helen Brenna said...

Hey Robin! I'm late up to bat, but welcome!

Boy, your post spoke to me today. I've been able to ignore numbers up until this year, and then with 3 books out within a 5 months period I found myself obsessed with how my new series was doing. Ay. I'm relieved to be coming down from that and hope it'll never happen again.

Suppose I've conquered that demon? lol

Aly said...

Congrats on the release! That is fantastic!

I completely agree with Pamela about an honest blurb! Nothing is worse then falling in love with a book b/c of the blurb and then finding out that the book is completely different from the blurb.

I also think an excerpt is important. I can be finicky about an author's voice so that matters to me. I also think an excerpt that leaves the reader intrigued and wondering what comes next is great!

What a great post! Thanks for visiting.


Stephenia said...

Hi Robin, I am drawn in to new to me authors by an interesting book cover(first), a blurb on the back that is appealing and those ever important first few pages that I'm going to read in the bookstore before I buy it. I find new authors on blogs like this (I peek in here because of Cindy Gerard, she is a favorite of mine) and also at website message boards like Romantic Times (to see what other readers are talking about) Good luck!
Stephenia (quilter892ataoldotcom)

catslady said...

Most definitely giveaways help. You're more willing to spend money on an author you've known and liked. Of course any advertising helps get the word out. I most definitely go out and buy more books if I like the author. Any field in the arts must be hard to sell. My daughter is going to college in the art field and her boyfriend is a starving artist. But I'm happy she's doing something she loves :)

Robin Cain said...

catslady - that starving artist boyfriend of your daughter's just may be famous one day! :-) Here's to both of them and their dreams!

LSUReader said...

I depend on blogs like these and book newsletters to spotlight new authors. Once I'm hooked on an author, I will generally follow their books until something turns me off of their work. I admit that if authors I like recommend new authors, that influences me. Your book title and cover drew me in. Thanks for visiting today.

Pamela Keener said...

Oops I forgot my e-mail in my earlier post.

I never thought of reading excerpts as a way to discover the author's voice. The voice is also important to enjoying the book. Thanks Aly. I always thought of them as spoilers not that they would spoil the plot but kinda deja vu to me.
Love & Hugs,

Martha Lawson said...

Congrats on the new release - it looks awesome. I really enjoyed the excerpt!! A lot of the times a cover will catch my eye and I will check out the book. I go to blogs, websites, etc. to find new authors. I usually don't let reviews influence me. Once I like an authors work, I try to read everything they have written!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Robin Cain said...

Congratulations to 'traveler' for winning a copy of WHEN DREAMS BLEED! I will contact you via email.

Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by AND to ridingwiththetopdown.blogspot for hosting me!