I was a freshman in high school when I checked out Mary Higgins Clark’s spine-tingling novel, “The Cradle Will Fall,” from the library. I finished it in a matter of days and was back at the library ready to scoop up “Where Are the Children?” another page-turner-that-keeps-you-up-at-night. I checked out her entire backlist over the course of a few months and once I’d read everything she’d written to that point, I started waiting for new releases to come out in paperback and adding them to my book collection. In short, I couldn’t get enough of what Mary Higgins Clark wrote.
By having a robust backlist and staying so prolific, Mary Higgins Clark turned me into an ardent devotee. While these two factors have always been key for an author to build readership, in today’s eBook and POD world, they’re particularly crucial, especially for indie authors. Readers have become impatient and no longer expect to wait a year or more for the latest book by their favorite author, but mere months. You have to feed the beast. A lot of authors are accomplishing this by releasing novellas and short stories to tide readers over until the next book release.
As the indie author movement continues to surge, we’re hearing a lot of overnight success stories of first-timers taking the bestseller lists by storm with their debut novels. While it’s definitely awesome and inspiring to hear these kinds of stories, the cold hard truth is, it just doesn't happen like that for everyone. While our instinct is to throw all of our energies behind promoting our one and only book in the hopes we, and it, will become “The Next Big Thing,” our time is better spent working on our next novel. And the one after that and the one after that. And so on and so on.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t market our work – of course we should! But not to the exclusion of the most important marketing activity of all – writing. Being an author means you’re running a marathon, not a sprint and any marathoner will tell you that you have to pace yourself in order to run the race.
While I hope my first novel, “Live and Let Die” is wildly successful out of the gate, I’m realistic; it could take some time before it finds its audience. While I continue to be on the lookout for promotional opportunities for it, I’ve got my next release “Sweet Little Lies” in the hands of my “Ideal Reader,” with plans to release it in 2013, and have the first drafts of two more manuscripts in the queue for release next year. I’ll also be spending my Christmas vacation plotting two more novels (in between shoving my face with Christmas cookies and wine, of course.)
Become prolific. Spend less time worrying about how to increase sales for your current book and concentrate instead on building ardent devotees for your body of work.
Just keep writing.