Okay, I haven't actually hit rock bottom. I did hit a few weeks where neither of my books sold even one copy, at least according to the Amazon numbers. Two of these weeks were in a row, which was quite depressing.
Instead of getting dejected, I looked back at what I was doing for promotion for the last few months, and then went further into the last few years, and had to admit I wasn't doing much lately. I've had a busy year, with two kids, a job I work from home, and being president of the parent/teacher group at my youngest daughter's school. With all of that, I had let promotion slip woefully out of my grasp.
Now that my reign of terror has ended as Co-Op president of Metairie Academy, I have the time to take stock of what I need to do to start selling books again. First and foremost, I recognized that even with the amount of work I had to do last year, I should have developed a system so that promoting my books wouldn't have suffered. Since that horse doesn't need to be beat any more, I can only look forward and make sure I get back on track.
So now the trick is setting up a schedule and a routine, two things I truly suck at. We are not routine people. We are even less of schedule people. As an example, now that school is out, my daughters--10 and 13 years old--and I stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. I usually wake and struggle out of bed between 11 and noon, they may sleep until 2 or 3 p.m. I can't fault them for that- I have always been a night person, and they have been night people from birth. So my hurdle is to accomplish what I need to on the schedule I have now.
Right before my first novel, Gumbo Justice, came out, I had a lot of time on my hands. I had been in a near-fatal collision with a drunk driver and was on my back for a really long time. Being able to do nothing else, I visited websites, set up my own websites, set up my blog, set up my Facebook page and twitter account, and pretty much wandered the internet at a leisurely pace, getting the lay of cyberland for promotion, something most people don't have the luxury of doing. I also wrote a screenplay, but that's another story.
So initially, when my novel came out, it sold okay, because my name was OUT THERE in the cyberworld. I continuously found places to put my name and book title, thanks in great part to Sunny, who sent links to all sorts of websites. Whether I was emailing a website for an interview, asking to guest blog, trying to get a review, or just commenting on someone else's post, I was OUT THERE.
Although it was never going to hit the bestseller's list, Gumbo continued to sell at a pace that was not embarrassing, and I continued my online promotion. I also did a few other things, a few craft shows at school, a few contests, a book launch, things to help me sell books on my own.
When Jambalaya Justice came out in July of 2011, I began to do the same things. It was like getting two for the price of one when someone would agree to interview me or let me guest blog, because I could plug both books. And then August rolled around, just a month after my book release, and school, with the dreaded Co-Op presidency.
After a month or so of school, I almost completely stopped looking for places to post, emailing websites, or even posting on my own blog. The only thing I did end up doing was setting up Facebook pages for both of my novels, and invited all my friends to like them. I think the sales I got this past year may be because of those pages, and updating them periodically.
So now I have set up a SYSTEM. At least my version of a system. I made a spreadsheet with the things I need to get done every day. I've included in that an hour of working on Chocolate City Justice, the third in my series, and thirty minutes of promotion.
I am also creating a separate list of specific things to do promotion-wise, so that I have definite things to do in that thirty minutes. I could spend 30 minutes a day easily reading other blogs or trying to find ways to promote, but instead I am going to spend the first couple of days of my allotted 30 minute blocks finding those specific things that I can do.
One of those things was contacting the N.O. public library, which I did, and now have 4 of my books on their shelves. I posted about this on my own blog at www.gumbojustice.blogspot.com. Another was contacting a blog that interviews writers and contacting a blog that hosts guest bloggers.
While I wait to hear back from people I contact, I can work on the guest blogs during my 30 minutes of allotted time, so I will have a repertoire of blogs on different topics ready to go.
One problem I have is that I have been interviewed or guest blogged on a lot of blogs already, and with no new book out yet, I don't feel like I should contact them again until my new book is on the release calendar, which it can't be until I finish it. But I am keeping an e-mail list of the sites I've already been on, so when it comes closer to Chocolate City coming out, I can contact them again.
My system is probably not organized enough for some writers, but I think it works for me. The trick is coming up with what works for you and doing the things you feel comfortable doing, but pushing yourself out of that comfort zone if the occasion and necessity arise.
Hitting rock bottom to me just means there's nowhere to go but up.