Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Comparison Trap

As the year winds down, there is the usual surge of posts and articles online about New Year's resolutions. On one online forum, some writers were posting their goals for 2013. Some of the posts included how many books they hope to publish. Some of the numbers being thrown around seemed realistic (2-4 books in a year), while others seemed over the top (in excess of twenty).

I'm sure these types of discussions occur on other artist forums in some form or another. The posts are often part ambition, part goal setting, part bravado, and part exaggeration.

As a reader, though, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing one's own works to what others are creating. This exercise usually ends up leaving the reader encouraged or depressed, depending on where they are at in their career. If forum members start throwing around sales figures the effect is only amplified.

Does it really matter, though?

The other day I thought of Romans 14:4 which reads, "Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." Although most of Romans 14 deals with faith, weakness, and the Law, it uses the illustration of food to get the point across. Perhaps it is a stretch, but I think the concept can be applied to the arts. It's easy to focus on what other artists are dealing with (or even struggling with) and lose sight of the tasks before oneself. For Christian writers, it is even more difficult because so many times the discussion focuses on worldly goals instead of eternal ones. I have to continually remind myself to focus on the task ahead of me and keep my hand to the plow.

So, in light of my recent resolutions post and discussions elsewhere, I've come to realize it's more important to focus on the field where I work rather than what is happening across the road or down the street. It's only then when the best plans seem to come together.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Since we are nearing the end of the year, I thought I better put together a list of resolutions. Last year, my only major resolution was to write three books. I did that and two of the three books should come out early next year. For next year, here's a short list of goals:

1) Update this blog more often
2) Write three novels
3) Go on a storm chase
4) Master the art of growing green peppers

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Mini-Promo Trainwreck

This has been an interesting month in terms of writing.

I have a short story collection all ready to go, but the cover isn't quite done yet. So I thought I would try to come up with an innovative way of getting some of the content out there anyway before the holidays. Here was the plan I came up with a couple months ago:

1) Publish three of the stories on iTunes, B&N, and Amazon. Set one story free on iTunes and B&N ("Firebugs") and enroll another in KDP Select on Amazon and set it free once in a while ("The View From Under the Bridge").

2) Release a story or two in audio format on my main site. All the stories have been recorded in audio format, but some were stronger than others.

3) Build interest for the full book release which would occur sometime in January or February.

Here's what actually happened:

1) The stories made it out to Amazon and iTunes. B&N? Apparently there is some sort of logjam with their publishing process right now so the stories aren't out there yet. So only Firebugs is free on iTunes right now.

2) I enrolled the View story into KDP select and set it free for a day. For hours and hours the story showed no sales rank, even though behind the scenes several copies were going out. In the early afternoon the sales rank appeared, but by that point it put a major dent into the totals. In the end, only thirty copies were downloaded.

3) The audio stories went online several weeks ago. From what I can tell, only a couple of people have actually listened to them.

So, um, yeah, that's where things are at. I'm hoping to actually do something in the next few weeks which could help, however. In short, I'm planning on advertising. This isn't a new idea to me, but I really have done a poor job of helping people find these books up until now. So I've started to put together a marketing plan for 2013, which will have to rely on creativity and unique ad placement. Having a shoestring budget is an understatement...but we'll see how things develop.